Chaplain Tom McCullagh has been an employee of the RCMP since March 12, 2008.
Chaplain Tom is not your average chaplain. His involvement in the RCMP reaches far beyond what people would consider “traditional” roles for a police chaplain.
He always makes himself available, no matter where employees are located in the province. He doesn’t hesitate to make the necessary travel arrangements to meet with RCMP employees and their families to provide the necessary personal, relational, emotional or/and spiritual support.
He is involved with a number of different programs in the RCMP in F Division:
He oversees a group of 21 volunteer chaplains across the province of Saskatchewan who assist in providing care to our RCMP employees and their families. To ensure they have all the tools they require to effectively carry out their roles, he arranges/provides training opportunities for them to bolster their skills and abilities. He has arranged for some of his volunteer chaplains to receive Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) training so that they can be used during Critical Incident Stress Debriefings (CISDs) when our employees have been exposed to potentially traumatic, impactful events.
Chaplain Tom also coordinates the Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) Team. In 2018, F Division had 36 debriefings and he assisted in the delivery of 19 CISDs for the division either in the role as a gatekeeper or facilitator. When there is an event in the province that falls within RCMP jurisdiction that is potentially traumatic, he coordinates a CISM response through effective collaboration with other team members.
He volunteers with the F Division Search and Rescue Team (RCMP SAR) which is typically deployed for missing persons/overdue travelers, but can also be called upon to assist in the search and recovery of evidence in criminal investigations. As part of that team he has been trained in Search and Rescue techniques, All Terrain Vehicle operation, First Aid/CPR, and wilderness survival. There is annual training each fall to maintain national standards. He is trained as a team leader and regularly takes on leadership roles during deployments. He acts as a second in command if the team lead is away. He will often lead large groups of volunteers (20-30 people) in the field in sometimes adverse and/or high stress situations.
He has put forth ideas for training courses, and also took the initiative to procure new coats for the team which improved health and safety of the team in harsh weather conditions.
Chaplain Tom volunteers as a driver for the Emergency Service Unit (ESU) under the Critical Incident Command Program. In this role, he drives the Incident Command Vehicle to scenes requiring some level of Emergency Response Team Deployment. Duties include prepping the vehicle, having the required equipment, getting the vehicle set up in the designated staging area and ensuring everything is operational so that specialized teams can carry out their functions. Chaplain Tom said this is another role that provides him with insight as to who members are in the division, what the common issues are that members are facing, provides a safe environment to foster new relationships as well as insight on how to provide more improved support to employees. He gets to know “the boots on the ground”.
Chaplain Tom wants to be a positive influence and convey a positive attitude. He is “always willing to serve”.
Chaplain Tom lives the Core Values of the RCMP: Honesty, Integrity, Professionalism, Compassion, Accountability and Respect in everything he does. He contributes to the wellness of F Division employees in as many facets as he can and leads by example.
There is an annual Craven Country Jamboree in one of our local Detachment areas. Chaplain Tom works shifts at the command post, which is located on the Jamboree grounds. He provides support and a place for members to take a break from patrolling the grounds. This provides him another avenue to foster good relationships with RCMP employees. He also has opportunities to interact and provide support to the public when they go to the command post looking for police assistance.
He has been involved in many different training opportunities as a facilitator over the years, including the Road to Mental Readiness Course (both Employee and Leadership), Respectful Workplace, and Slander/Gossip/Bullying. He has organized CISM training for new team members, a National Conference for the various police chaplains across the country and co-coordinates annual training with the Peer to Peer Coordinator to provide new learning opportunities for current CISM team members.
In the words of Warren Bennis, “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality”.
Chaplain Tom has a vision of how he wants to see his chaplaincy program and the other programs he is involved in flourish. He is a forward thinker, a team player and always looks for new, improved ways to support employees. Chaplain Tom has the trust, support and respect of a lot of employees in the province and truly makes a difference in the lives the people who have had the privilege of working with him.