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Our Story

The History of The Academy-NICRT

The Academy - National Institute for Crisis Response Training (NICRT), first began in the foothills of North Carolina. It was established by co-founders Mike Futrell and Dr. Tina Brookes in 2008 and was located in Lincolnton, NC where El Bethel Baptist Church hosted the courses. Mike serves as the pastor of El Bethel Baptist Church and recently retired as the local Fire Marshall. His administrative contributions and the provision of a host facility were very instrumental to the long-term success of The Academy-NICRT. Much Appreciation!


With the goal of providing quality and affordable training in the full scope of the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation's ( courses in Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM). Our target students were individuals in Western North Carolina whom we envisioned would be equipped and enabled to build local CISM teams that actively support and promote the emotional resiliency of local emergency responders following a critical incident.  We are pleased that this goal has been met and surpassed!


Students at The Academy-NICRT have a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences in the areas of Emergency Response/Public Safety (Law Enforcement, Fire, EMS, Hospital and Healthcare Centers), Schools, Non-Profit Ministries, Community Agencies, Chaplaincy, Hospice, Churches, Military, Businesses, Pastors, Mental Health, etc. Many of the students at The Academy-NICRT participate in disaster relief work with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association Rapid Response Team or HOPE-Animal Assisted Crisis Response Teams .


All students at The Academy-NICRT are encouraged to build a critical incident support team or program in their own ‘corner of the world’. They are challenged when they complete a course through The Academy-NICRT to ‘pass the torch’ and carry the light of crisis response into an often hurt, lonely, dark world. Students are encouraged to collaborate together as the network of well-trained CISM responders continues to grow and promote healing and resiliency on a global level!

Dr. Brookes originally served as the Chief Training Officer. In this role she taught the majority of the courses, recruited students nationwide, and invited guest instructors to offer specialty CISM courses. In 2016, Dr. Brookes then became the CEO of The Academy-NICRT and began hosting courses at various locations to better meet the needs of the students.

Dr. Tina Brookes’ passion to equip compassionate, well-trained, highly qualified, and experienced CISM responders was contagious and word-of-mouth endorsements for The Academy-NICRT soon expanded  beyond the foothills and mountains of North Carolina. Since 2008, The Academy-NICRT has trained over 2,500 students from 25 U.S. states and 3 countries. 

In May of 2023, Dr Brookes handed the role of CEO over to Chaplain Fran Graham, a highly qualified instructor and published author with extensive global experience in crisis intervention education, crisis management and international disaster relief. She has been a consultant for both governmental and non-government agencies, to establish emotional health intervention support systems in times of war, refugee crises and following natural disasters. With an extensive background in Law Enforcement, International Disaster Relief, Fire and Police Chaplaincy, Peer Support and Critical Incident Stress Management, Fran provides a wealth of knowledge and expertise to support those in crisis and psychological trauma.  Fran's unyielding faith and passion has and will continue to guide others to acknowledge, manage, and process the serious and unforeseen impacts of crisis and trauma, and the plan now is to not only expand the courses we offer, but also to expand The Academy-NICRT globally, to provide greater training opportunities in many nations who don't have access to this invaluable kind of education! 

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