Team History

The Region J Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) Team was formed under the direction of the former Region J Emergency Medical Services Advisory Council to the Triangle J Council of Governments.  The Team has been operational since February 1989. The program is multi-dimensional and includes a corps of trained mental health professionals and emergency response peer support professionals that provide debriefing and other peer support interventions to emergency service providers. The Team is comprised of mental health professionals to oinclude psychologists, social workers, counselors, clergy and psychiatric nurses, and peer debriefers include emergency response personnel, who work within law enforcement, rescue squads, fire departments, ambulance and EMS services, hospitals and 911 emergency communication centers.

Training and Membership

All team members are required to undergo a certificate-training program approved by the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation (ICISF) which is designed to prepare team members to participate in CISM debriefings and crisis support interventions. Membership on the team is voluntary. There are no financial considerations for participation in interventions, ongoing training, or team meetings. Team members are rewarded with tremendous personal satisfaction that comes from helping to provide support, reassurance, and comfort to emergency services providers suffering from the physical and/or emotional aftershocks of providing emergency care.


The Region J CISM Team has held over one hundred debriefings and interventions since its inception. In 2001, the Team received national registry with the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation (ICISF). This recognition places the team on an on-call list to respond to national disasters. The Team responded  to the September 2001 (9/11) disaster in New York and Washington, DC; Hurricane Katrina in 2005; and had a major coordination and response role in the Eastern North Carolina flood of 1999 following Hurricane Floyd.

Region J CISM Team Members

Chief Matthew Sullivan, Lead Mental Health Professional
Served as Team Clinical Director the past 2 years


Dr. Peter J. Smith, Lead Mental Health Professional
Clinical Psychologist (Chapel Hill) with services to emergency service personnel and
their families. Approved Instructor for ICISF (since 1996), teaching emergency service
personnel (NC & TN), federal agencies, including USCG, USMC/USN, and US
Marshals Service, hospitals, universities and colleges, among others. Clinical Director
(~16 years this team, 4 more for Southern Maine team, 1991-95). Volunteer with this
team since 1996. Developing (with others) peer support team for Orange/Chatham
county responders. Volunteer consultant to Orange County Emergency Services.
Consultant to CISM teams in hospitals (current). Cell: 919-260-8393.
Peggy Handon, Lead Peer Professional
Retired from Triangle J Council of Government as the Region J Emergency Medical
Services Director. Currently employed with the NC Office of Emergency Medical
Services as Assistant Manager for the NC Hospital Preparedness Program. Have
served as the Region J CISM Team Coordinator since its inception in 1989.
Instrumental in the development of the team, training and operations. Also completed a
statewide assessment of CISM services in North Carolina which initiated the reestablishment
of the NC CISM Advisory Group and currently serve as staff.
Capt. Mary Blevins, Lead Peer Professional
Served 28+ years of professionally in Fire/Rescue, EMS, arson investigations and
safety education service. She was a fire operations captain and command staff officer
over 18 years and has been serving the Region J CISM Team since 1995. Deployments
include 9/11 Ground Zero, Hurricanes Katrina-Mississippi, Isabelle-OBX, MatthewLumberton,
NC in addition to numerous debriefings within the Region J service area.


Lesley Cates, Peer Professional
Volunteer Firefighter; B.S. Criminology, North Carolina State University; Serving Region J Triangle CISM Team since 2005


Marcus Orr, Lead Mental Health/Peer Professional
Over 13 years as a sworn law enforcement officer with experience in patrol, school resource and criminal investigations divisions; B.A. in History and Political Science, University of North Carolina at Greensboro; M.Div. with Counseling Ministry, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; M.A. in Liberal Studies, University of North Carolina at Greensboro; NAMB Endorsed Disaster Relief Chaplain, NC Baptist Men’s Disaster Relief Chaplain; Certified in Acute Traumatic Stress Management with the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress; Certified General Instructor, NC Criminal Justice Training and Standards Commission; Serving Region J CISM Team since 2006
Steven Moore, Lead Peer Professional
Former Police Officer with 14 years of patrol experience; A.A.S. Criminal Justice, Wake Technical Community College; B.A. in Biblical Studies in progress, Southeastern College at Wake Forest; Member International Critical Incident Stress Foundation; Serving Region J CISM Team since 2006


Steven A. Savia, Lead Mental Health/Peer Professional
37 years Fire-Rescue and EMS; Certified Mediator, North Carolina Dispute Resolution Commission; Managing Principal, The Sage Group; 32 year professional management consultant helping emergency services organizations identify and implement initiatives addressing future and immediate issues; Adjunct Professor Durham Technical Community College; B.A. (Government and Politics) George Mason University, M.A. (Political Science/Public Policy) Florida Atlantic University, doctoral study (Public Policy) University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Member of the American Bar Association Labor and Employment Law Section and Dispute Resolution Section, Member North Carolina Bar Association Dispute Resolution Section, Institute of Management Consultants, Member International Critical Incident Stress Foundation; Serving Region J CISM Team since 2005


Dr. Janet S. Savia, Lead Mental Health Professional
Psychologist in private practice in Durham, NC; Commissioned Stephen Minister and
Stephen Ministry Leader; M.A. and Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology, Regent University,
M.S. in Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, B.S. in Biology, Florida
Atlantic University; Member American Psychological Association; Member NC
Psychological Association; Member American Association of Suicidology; Member
American Public Health Association; Member International Critical Incident Stress
Foundation; Member Perinatal Support International; Instructor Fire Chaplain 101;
Member NC Fire Fighter Peer Support; Member Duke Hospice Patient Family Advisory
Council; Serving Region J CISM Team since 2005.


 Jim Huegerich, Lead Mental Health Professional
Senior Ombuds for the Town of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. M.Ed. UNC-CH (1975); Certified NC Criminal Justice Instructor since 1978; Certified Crisis Specialist with Southwestern Academy of Crisis Interveners since 1980. Serving Region J CISM Team and Duke Hospice since 1995.


  Jamie Ingram, Mental Health Professional


 Richard Brown, Lead Mental Health/Peer Professional


 Ralph THompson, Mental Health Professional


 Geoffrey Zeger, Mental Health Professional


 Sarah Furman, Mental Health Professional


 Amanda Smith, Mental Health Professional


 Helen Tripp, Lead Mental Health/Peer Professional


 Sandra Watson, Peer Professional


 Scott Wilkcos, Lead Mental Health/Peer Professional


 Susan Gillis, Peer Professional
 Over 25 years of service as a Telecommunicator, Supervisor, and Training Officer;
Certified General Instructor, NC Criminal Justice Training and Standards Commission,
North Carolina Justice Academy training staff, BLET instructor, School Director and
Curriculum Coordinator for the North Carolina Department of Justice and NC Sheriffs’
Education and Training Standards Basic Telecommunicator Training course, adjunct
BLET instructor for Fayetteville Technical Community College and Sandhills Community
College, Member International Critical Incident Stress Foundation.


 Bob Blackford, Lead Peer Professional


Attention Team Members

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