Episode 12: Peer Support

Author: Eoghan Colgan    @eoghan_colgan
Special Guest: Angela Lewis   @PSA_ltd



Podcast 11 Angela Lewis

Guest Bios

Angela Lewis

Angela pic.jpg

Angela is the founder and director of PSA, a company that delivers training in the principles and practice of Human Factors (Crew Resource Management for the aviation industry).  Her goal is to optimise human performance by considering the behaviour of people and how they interact with each other and their environment.  A CAA accredited CRM instructor, Angela brings people to a better understanding of their own limitations in order to minimise human error and mitigate its negative consequences in high pressure situations.

Angela served 16 years in the Royal Navy in the Fleet Air Air, where she was an aircraft commander in Sea King Helicopters with primary responsibility for the mission and safety, in addition to the duties of navigation, winch operator/winchman and emergency medical technician.  She saw operation in the North Arabian Gulf in 2003 and spent 12 years based at HMS Gannet undertaking Search and Rescue duties.  In 2015, alongside her crew, she was awarded the Prince Phillip Helicopter Rescue Award for leadership, courage and professionalism for a rescue from Tower Ridge, Ben Nevis on one of those Scottish Winter nights.

She has a specialised interest in the effect of traumatic incidents on teams and individuals, and trained in Trauma Risk Management (TRiM) implementing and managing it at her SAR Unit where it delivered considerable results.  Also trained in Critical Incident Stress Management, she has a wide understanding of peer support and has trained Mountain Rescue Scotland in creating a team of MRT volunteers in order to do exactly that.  In the last few years she has been working with ScotSTAR Emergency Medical Retrieval Service as well as West Yorkshire Police, the British Association of Ski Patrollers and Airport Fire Officers Association as well as adapting the principles for use in an education environment.

Show Notes

Eoghan and Angela discuss the effects of stress and the benefits of developing a culture of peer support in the workplace.

Take Home Points

  1. Pressure can be good for performance but too much pressure can negatively impact on our jobs and our physical and mental health
  2. How we can tell:
    • Changing attitudes towards job and life
    • Finding things more challenging
    • Personal habits change
  3. How others can tell:
    • Change in appearance such as tiredness
    • Normal habits or approach changes e.g. late for work when never previously
    • Gut instinct
  4. Natural (normal responses)
    • Sad, frightened, angry
    • Guilty/ashamed
    • Flashbacks
  5. Advantages of addressing stress:
    • It is a legal requirement to look after physical AND mental health of your employees
    • Morally it is the right thing to do
    • People tend to work better if you invest in them and care for them
    • You will probably attract and retain more/better staff
    • There will probably be less time lost to sick leave
  6. Managing an Incident:
    • In the moment:
      • SAFETY – of patient and individual
      • Remove them from the situation and provide water/tea
      • Provide the calm
      • Acknowledge that something has happened
      • Ask what you can do and listen to what they need
      • Consider if there is a better staff member to provide support at that time
    • Later that shift:
      • Are they safe to return to shift and do they require mentoring/shadowing?
      • Where should they go and are they fit to drive?
      • What are they going home to and are they better staying at work until a more appropriate time?
    • Advice on leaving work:
      • Advise them on the normal response (point 4)
      • Advise to eat and sleep well
      • avoid alcohol
      • Do something enjoyable
      • Don’t overload them (4 points enough)
      • Shared experiences are good but don’t make it about your story
    • Next few days (can be very lonely)
      • Small amount of contact (text/email/phone etc)
      • Offer some time to chat if they need it
      • Discuss their feelings and help normalize and process them
      • Don’t trivialize it or dismiss it
      • Enquire about contributing factors/stress outside of work and encourage support for these
      • Consider any systemic reasons in the dept that contributed to the error
    • Next few weeks (back at work):
      • Explore what they require
      • Regular contact and guage when they don’t want to discuss it anymore
      • Look out for clues that they aren’t coping (point 3)
    • Not coping:
      • be aware of the limitations of your role and refer for professional help
      • Consider local spiritual care teams, chaplaincy teams or other support networks







PERSONNEL SUPPORT AVIATION - http://www.psa-ltd.com

LUFTHANSA STIFTUNG MAYDAY - http://english.stiftung-mayday.de

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