Tuesday 26 September 2023
Select a region

FOCUS: Helping our emergency heroes to recover from tragedy

FOCUS: Helping our emergency heroes to recover from tragedy

Friday 17 February 2023

FOCUS: Helping our emergency heroes to recover from tragedy

Friday 17 February 2023

The whole island was left shaken in December when a sudden explosion collapsed Haut du Mont flats, claiming the lives of 10 people... but perhaps few more so than Jersey's emergency first responders, who bravely entered the scene of the tragedy to bring safety and support to survivors.

Gone are the days when a stiff upper lip was the expectation, even in the wake of horror. Today, emergency services workers are supported by specialist wellbeing officers to ensure that they too can recover.

 Express spoke to one of them, Jessica Pinel, who started in the role with Jersey Police two years ago...

The owner of Humankynd Nutrition, Jessica worked in medical health as a clinical physiologist for several years.

During that time, she developed an interest for preventative health as she realised a lot of issues could be targeted before people reach the medical phase.

Preventing health crises

“Schools, workplaces and communities are places in which we can target actions to educate people and support people in preventing health crises that we are now seeing,” she explained. “When you talk about medical health, there’s physical and mental health and we do not want to reach a crisis in either.”

When she saw the role of Wellbeing Officer at the police advertised, she was keen to apply, especially as it included the development of health and wellbeing strategy for the force - something she had practised during her masters in nutrition.

“I think it’s really important to have a wellbeing strategy in the workplace, you need to set out your goals and intentions and how you are going to make it better,” she said.

“We talk about the onus being on the employee, but we need to realise that there’s things to do as an employer. Our workplace is a community and we do not always realise how much it influences us. We have to make sure it is a supportive environment to encourage good behaviour.

"There’s a phrase that says, ‘You are made up of the five people you spend the most time with’ - we do spend a lot of time with our colleagues so they have an influence on our lifestyle.”

"Use what you know works"


Pictured: Jessica was hired to develop a wellbeing strategy for the police.

In addition to providing one-to-one support and signposting to police officers, along with another Wellbeing Officer, Jessica designed a wellbeing strategy and education, as well as collecting data on the wellbeing of the workforce.

The strategy, which is based on the Blue Light Framework used throughout the UK for blue light services and sets the force’s intentions for the next three years, includes several key areas, some of which could be considered in other workplaces. As Jessica explained, strategies will look different from one organisation to the other.

“Use what you know works,” Jessica recommended to employers. “There is no point reinventing the wheel and you can adapt things to your specific needs.”

The police’s strategy involves providing clear guidance and understanding of workplace wellbeing at various levels of leadership, protecting the workforce through resilience training with Mind Jersey, and creating a work environment that promotes wellbeing – officers have access to break rooms and a gym, and Jessica is working to make sure the food served in the canteen abides by UK nutritional standards.


Pictured: The strategy used by the police is based on a framework used by blue light services in the UK.

As part of the strategy, Jessica also looks for trends in the physical and mental wellbeing of officers.

“If you have high cases of musculo skeletal injuries, for example, you can look to create interventions to support that,” she said. “You may want to assess people at their desks and make sure they sit properly.”

Trauma Risk Management 

The document has also seen the introduction of 'Wellbeing Champions' - officers who are trained in mental health first aid to support people who are struggling, and better absence management.

“We have a health management group where we discuss how best to support staff who are off on long term sickness,” Jessica said.  

One of the things that have proved the most useful recently, in the wake of the Pier Road explosion, has been TRiM, a Trauma Risk Management process approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

The development of the TRiM network, which includes practitioners, members of staff who have been trained in the process, and managers, such as Jessica, had started a year before the strategy was drafted, which meant it was already established when the major incident happened.


Pictured: All police officers involved in the Pier Road incident were given the opportunity to get involved in the TRiM process.

“As soon as the incident happened, we were able to initiate the TRiM process,” Jessica explained. “24 hours after the incident, we go to the staff who were involved, if they have been pulled away from the incident, and we normalise what would be described as an ‘abnormal response’.

“We say to them, ‘If you are having bad dreams, if you are feeling anxious, if you are more irritable than usual, it’s a normal reaction to an abnormal event’. Some people will feel worried that they display these symptoms, they need that reassurance that it’s normal.”

“60% of people will experience that - after a week that drops down to 50%, after a month to 10%,” Jessica continued. “We are looking for those people who are in the 10%, as they are most likely to develop post-traumatic stress.”

"Extra levels of support"


Pictured: Officers are matched with a TRiM practitioner.

After the TRiM incident briefing, officers are invited to opt in, as the process is on a voluntary basis. If they do choose to opt in, they are matched to a TRiM Practitioner, who will see them for an initial chat, then a one month follow up, and if they feel they need it, a three-month follow up.

“It works via a series of scoring process, it’s a structured chat,” Jessica explained. “If their score is quite high, we flag them and offer them support. It’s up to them if they want that support or not.

“At the moment, we have got counselling through AXA, an occupational health service. We also have an amazing charity on island, Rock 2 Recovery, which supports ex-military and service people. We also have the option to refer people to specialist help, we have got counsellors on our books as well as a psychologist.

“We make sure our staff are very well supported. It’s a difficult job and you want to have these extra levels of support in place.”

Manchester terror attack Ariana grande

Pictured: TRiM was also offered to officers involved in the Manchester bombings.

Implemented with the help of the health department’s own TRiM network and a contact who provided the TRiM process to those involved in the response to the Manchester bombing, it was well received among the local force.

“People speak highly of it and recommend it to other staff,” Jessica said. “They have been very complimentary of the process. I think it just proves that if you need to have a wellbeing strategy in place because, over time, you are going to need those things.”

“I am very proud of the team and everything they have achieved and the support from other areas of government has been great,” she added. “It really helps when you have got good leaders, we have a great Chief and Deputy. People have worked really hard in the police and other emergency services, they have all worked extra hours. It just shows it’s a caring profession. They are there for the people of Jersey and that just really shows in the response. Everyone went above and beyond.”

Wellbeing action plans


Pictured: A wellbeing action plan lays out what an employee can do to make themselves better, but also how their organisation can support them.

Whilst most organisations will not experience an incident of the same magnitude as Pier Road, Jessica believes there are still things that can be put in place to ensure staff wellbeing.

“One of the things employers can use is a wellbeing action plan, Mind Jersey give resources on those,” she said. “It is specific to member of staff, who may struggle with anxiety or depression and come to a new workplace. If they are happy to talk about this, they might tell their boss ‘I have this, it might not affect me at work but I just want to make sure something is in place in case it does’.

“The plan lays out what you can do to make yourself better, but also how the organisation can support you. It can be being understanding and not overloading you with work, regular check ins with your boss, making sure the work environment is not overwhelming and that you are sticking to a normal routine.

“It’s about working with the individual to help them get better, whilst having that balance between the individual and the organisation.”

"Nurture and nourish"

office work

Pictured: Your workforce is "a key piece to your business".

Whilst some employers might not see the importance of having a wellbeing strategy in place, Jessica encourages them to look at the research.

“The research says there are so many links between wellbeing and productivity,” she explained. “If your workforce is satisfied and supported, it will benefit the productivity. Your workforce is important to your business outcomes, it’s like the furniture or the software. It’s a key piece to your business, so why not nurture it and nourish it, and build it up like you build the rest of the organisation?

“We really need to level up here, we live in a country where we are really affluent so why are we not investing in our staff?”


Express previously spoke to Police Chief Robin Smith about how officers were coping in the wake of the island's twin tragedies...

This article first featured on Bailiwick Wellbeing, your free guide to wellness in work and island life to help you start the weekend - and week ahead - in the right way. Sign up now here.

Sign up to newsletter



Comments on this story express the views of the commentator only, not Bailiwick Publishing. We are unable to guarantee the accuracy of any of those comments.

Once your comment has been submitted, it won’t appear immediately. There is no need to submit it more than once. Comments are published at the discretion of Bailiwick Publishing, and will include your username.

To place a comment please login

You have landed on the Bailiwick Express website, however it appears you are based in . Would you like to stay on the site, or visit the site?