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Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention Advance Access originally published online on January 4, 2006
Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention 2006 6(1):66-78; doi:10.1093/brief-treatment/mhj004
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© The Author 2006. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:

Original Article

COP-2-COP Hotlines: Programs to Address the Needs of First Responders and Their Families

   William J. Ussery, MA, LPC
   Judith A. Waters, PhD, LPC

From COP-2-COP, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Piscataway (Ussery) and the Department of Psychology, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Florham/Madison Campus (Waters)

Contact author: William J. Ussery, COP-2-COP, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Piscataway, NJ 08854. E-mail: usserywj{at}

This article delineates the factors that have long contributed to the high rate of stress-related disorders in "first responders," those frontline professionals responsible for the safety and security of the public (law enforcement officers, firefighters, and emergency service personnel). It covers the rationale for COP-2-COP, a unique program designed to address the mental health needs of a high-risk population, its history, its components, and outcomes. This state funded program is a crisis intervention "helpline" for first responders, and their families, providing peer support, clinical assessment, referrals to mental health practitioners with relevant experience, and Critical Incident Stress Management. We begin with two newspaper reports of actual cases and end with four fictional case studies that reflect a composite of typical symptoms experienced by clients contacting one of the COP-2-COP hotlines. These cases are presented along with the special programs that were designed to address the consequences of the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001. Fortunately, COP-2-COP was already in place and prepared to act in response to the impact of a trauma of unprecedented magnitude.

KEY WORDS: trauma, stress, law enforcement, police, firefighters, emergency service personnel, September 11, 2001

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