Manchester Municipal Risk Management Authority


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10.06.20 DPS Advisory Committee Meeting
10.16.20 Parks & Recreation Committee Meeting
10.20.20 Fire/EMS Advisory Committee Meeting
10.20.20 Facilities Management Committee Meeting
11.05.20 Lower Peninsula Law Enforcement Committee Meeting
11.10.20 Technology & Cyber Security Advisory Committee Meeting

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10.13.20 Effectively Managing Problem Employees
10.15.20 Effectively Managing Problem Employees
10.20.20 Managing Generational Differences in the Workplace
10.22.20 Managing Generational Differences in the Workplace


What's New/Hot Topic From MMRMA to You
MMRMA Updates Water/Beach Safety, Community Property Rental/Use Resources
Documents aim to help member parks and recreation departments manage risk.


August 2020 Risk Journal
RAP/CAP grant update. Applications welcome; next deadline is October 2. Plus virtual public meeting tips from a member and a parliamentary expert, and exploring direct supervision in jails.

June 2020 Risk Journal
Developing, Communicating Plans to Reopen During and After Pandemic; Managing Inmate Expectations a Key Component of Effective Jails

Managing Team Anxiety and Promoting Well-Being During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Posted: Wednesday, April 8, 2020

by Cindy C. King, Director of Membership Services and Human Resources

The MMRMA team has been working remotely for two weeks now, and we know many of our members began managing office closures and remote work arrangements at the same time or even earlier in this unfolding crisis.  We recently posted a Remote Work Primer on our coronavirus webpage to assist members in maneuvering through what could be uncharted territory. 

While it has been an adjustment, MMRMA is pleased to be able to provide the bulk of our services remotely.  However, some functions do not lend well to a remote work environment. In accordance with state guidelines allowing employees onsite for basic operations and to support remote workers, a few MMRMA employees are going into the office each week to address technology matters, process vendor and claimant payments, collect incoming mail, and obtain paper files.

Members Provide Critical Services

We know that many MMRMA members employ emergency first responders (police, fire, and 911 dispatchers); many other members, including health departments, community mental health agencies, and inpatient medical care facilities, also provide critical services to the citizens of Michigan. Member courts may also be operating in some capacity. Collectively, these critical infrastructure workers are experiencing a situation unlike any for which they have trained or have prior experience.

For all member employees – whether working remotely, not working at all, or working on the front lines and being exposed to COVID-19 patients – it is safe to assume that every single person is facing some form of anxiety or stress related to the coronavirus. 

Fortunately, there are some ways to help manage these concerns, for ourselves and for those in our organizations.

Change and Uncertainty

First, it is important to recognize that the underlying factor influencing these stressors is change.  Almost overnight, everything that was familiar changed or disappeared.  People everywhere are no longer working in the manner to which they were accustomed. What’s more, they are worried about COVID-19 infecting themselves and their loved ones. They may feel helpless, as if they have no control over these circumstances, which are unprecedented. The situation features many unknowns, even to the professionals who are managing the crisis, and those unknowns are also changing each day.  Employees are afraid.

As leaders, coworkers, and colleagues in your organizations, what can you do to help alleviate these feelings of stress, anxiety, lack of control, and fear of the unknown?  The American Psychological Association (APA) has a page on their site dedicated to this topic: www.apa.org/research/action/speaking-of-psychology/coronavirus-anxiety

One big takeaway: managers and coworkers are encouraged to communicate with each other, regularly and frequently.  For managers, it is critical that your communications are timely, accurate, and honest.

Seeking Reliable Information

The APA also suggests you provide resources and encourage team members to seek information from trusted organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at www.cdc.gov and the World Health Organization at www.who.int.  Social media is good for connecting with family and friends, but it is not a reliable source of information, as the content of many memes and links is inaccurate and/or designed to incite fear or panic. 

The website www.helpguide.org provides a wealth of useful guidance. It states: “Constant monitoring of news and social media feeds can quickly turn compulsive and counterproductive fueling anxiety…” Help Guide suggests relying upon local public health authorities for accurate information, and staying away from media if it leads to feelings of being overwhelmed.

The site also says everyone should use caution when sharing news and links; it recommends Snopes’ Coronavirus Collection as a means to verify the accuracy of data about COVID-19.  Additionally, Help Guide suggests people focus on the things we can control, such as staying home, washing our hands, and other recommendations from officials on how to prevent exposure and spread of the coronavirus.

Facing Fear Head On

As leaders, it can be quite helpful to acknowledge that employees’ fear has merit.  Like all of us, they do not know when the coronavirus will be under control, when cases will start to diminish, or what course this pandemic will take.  Many team members have been sent home, whether to work or not, because it is the safest place to be.  Remind them that you care about their safety and well-being, and that you, too, look forward to things returning to normal.

Whatever circumstances an employee might already have been facing, such as financial problems, family difficulties, health issues, or substance abuse, have not gone away simply because we are all coping with a global pandemic.  All of those issues continue to coexist along with the fear, anxiety, and uncertainty of the coronavirus.

Supporting Those on the Front Lines

For our first responders and medical care workers, their levels of anxiety and stress are likely even higher.  As with at-home workers, the other stressors in their lives continue, even as these professionals are facing the constant fear of contracting COVID-19.

Member police and fire chiefs and HR directors know all too well the mental health illnesses an emergency responder could endure, from stress to depression to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

Encourage Fire and EMS operations to use the information compiled at www.usfa.fema.gov/coronavirus to address first responder behavioral health concerns. Resources on stress, first aid, and how to address PTSD, substance abuse, and depression among first responders is available at www.firstrespondercenter.org

Encouraging Self Care

Marie Trozzi, M.Ed., an O2X Human Performance Specialist, advises to “consider the marathon, not the sprint… Shortly, we will collectively feel as though we have hit a ‘wall of exhaustion’ … Taking care of ourselves now seems prudent.”

Trozzi reminds first responders of the benefits of eating a healthy diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and getting regular exercise, particularly outdoors during the day, which has the added benefit of exposure to Vitamin D. She also suggests taking a multivitamin and probiotics.

Trozzi also says it’s wise to steer clear of alcohol and junk food in large quantities, and strongly advises against smoking, vaping, and sharing food or drink with others.

The pandemic is affecting people all around the world, and this includes children.  Trozzi says: “children are paying close attention to their parents’ moods and actions.”  She encourages employees to be realistic but not to instill fear or anxiety in young children.  Children benefit from playtime, regular exercise, and predictable meal, nap, and bed times.

Staying Mindful and Observant

Another good resource for information to address mental health in emergency responders is www.policeone.com.  In their March 13, 2020 online publication, Amy Morgan, who possesses a Master’s degree in counseling and is Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) and Law Enforcement First Responder (LEFR) certified, notes: “Taking care of yourself is not an extracurricular activity, it’s a necessity so you can keep taking care of others.”  Morgan also encourages officers to remain optimistic and hopeful, “to keep calm and resilient mentally, emotionally and physically.”

According to Morgan, it is everyone’s responsibility “to watch for signs of increased agitation, anger, short tempers or feelings of stress or panic… and address these immediately.”  Use resources available to you, such as an employee assistance plan (EAP), peer support, and healthcare options provided through the employer’s insurance plan.  If an emergency responder is experiencing physical signs of illness, call the doctor immediately.  Morgan advises against delaying that call because one wants to act tough (or because your department is already short-staffed).  This is a decision to be as well as you can be, and also to potentially avoid getting even more people sick.

Members Share Expertise

Chief Greg Flynn of the West Bloomfield Township Fire Department is using the department chaplain as a resource to address stress and the toll it can take on relationships.  Chief Flynn has also trained two firefighters in advanced peer-support techniques; these individuals are available for calls and virtual meetings.  In Farmington Hills, Chief Jon Unruh has reminded his team of first responders of their EAP; the department’s Peer Support Teams for police and fire have emailed employees about ways of coping in this stressful environment.  Both Chief Flynn and Chief Unruh serve on the MMRMA Fire/EMS Risk Control Advisory Committee.

MMRMA has links and useful information about the coronavirus posted to its website: https://lp.mmrma.org/coronavirus.  The entire MMRMA team, including Membership Services and our Risk Control Consultants, are available to address specific concerns. Please email or call your individual contact(s) directly or call 734.513.0300. 

We also share two resources from the First Responder Center for Excellence with more tips to help with stress in these unprecedented times. Access at these links:

Promoting Well-Being During the Covid-19 Outbreak
Improving First Responder Well-Being During the Covid-19 Outbreak

We are all in this together. Let’s stay safe, stay healthy, and save lives!

 




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Michigan Municipal Risk
Management Authority

14001 Merriman Road
Livonia, MI 48154
734.513.0300
800.243.1324

MMRMA has been a leader in municipal risk since 1980 and remains committed to meeting the ever-expanding challenges faced by its membership. MMRMA's risk control services are designed to help its members identify, prevent, and mitigate losses through on-site surveys, training, and other services. MMRMA also provides its members with premier claims and legal services, sound financial management, and essential news on the latest developments in public risk management.


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