Module 1: Impact awareness of natural disasters and emergency response
In this module, you will visit the following topics: pre-crisis preparation, stress management education, stress resistance, crisis mitigation training; disaster or large-scale incident, as well as, school and community support programs; one-on-one crisis intervention/counselling or psychological support; etc.
Module 2: Crisis Interventions in Depression and PTSD
Crisis is defined as a sudden event in one’s life that disturbs homeostasis, during which usual coping mechanisms cannot resolve the problem.
Module 3: Blue Light Mental Health and Trauma Awareness
how people can learn to self regulate so that they can function more effectively mentally, emotionally and physically (regulation of the brain: neuroscience; physical - self regulation thermometer; mindfulness) (Kate King)
- Wellbeing and mental health support in the emergency services
- Blue Light Research
- Blue Light Research (2)
- Blue Light Research (3)
- Types of trauma
- How trauma changes our physiology – flight, fight or freeze response
- What happens after trauma
- Advice to traumatised individuals
- Advice to friends and family
- Signs of burnout
- Check your knowledge!
Module 4: Disaster management
- Why is this important?
- Who are first responders?
- How First Responders Develop Mental Health Complications?
- What are the most frequent mental health complications which first responders develop?
- What barriers do first responders face to looking for mental health treatment?
- How can we help?
- EMDR Therapy
- Check your knowledge!
Module 5: Communication and Stress
The aim of this module will be to learn about communication problems and stress that people with PTSD are struggling with. It will lead to greater understanding how to effectively work with such people and how to recognize the symptoms. It will help to implement this topic in teaching practice to ultimately widen participation and increase trauma awareness, emotional self regulation and preparedness for response to any traumatic event. The topics covered: PTSD, Communication and PTSD, How to communicate in a PTSD relationship?, How Is PTSD Unlike a Normal Stress Response?, Stress – Physical symptoms, Stress – Psychological symptoms, Stress – Behaviours.
Module 6: Psychological First Aid; CPR and emergency first aid
- Training Objectives
- Learning Outcomes
- What is Psychological First Aid?
- Key Stages in PFA Training
- How Do People Respond in Emergencies ?
- How Does Trauma Impact Mental Health?
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Components of PFA
- Steps in PFA
- PFA is NOT
- Be Prepared
- Signs of Distress
- Social & Physical Reactions
- People with Additional Needs and Trauma
- Secondary Stressors
- Long Term Effects
- Distress & Mental Health
- Mental Health Problems
- Resilience & Coping
- Psychosocial Resilience
- Social Support & Coping
- Dos & Don’ts’s
- Action Principles
- Communication Skills
- People Who Need More Than PFA Alone
- How to Link People for Support & Guidance
- Self Care & Ending Assistance
- Check your knowledge!
Why is this important?
There are two instruments which illustrate most effectively the fact that first responders constitute a vulnerable group with regard to their mental health in view of their professional occupation. Data and personal testimonies can serve complementary to illustrate this. On the one hand, data communicates the gravity of a problem and can serve as a basis for policy solutions. On the other hand, personal testimonies build empathy and emotional awareness about the challenges first responders face. For this reason, a training should include both at its outset. Hereby, we include a set of stories and data which can be used for this purpose.
I remember my first call on an accident site as a psychologist in assistance of fire fighters. There was little we could do to help and we left the site in silence. A week later we were doing training and during the break the TV was on. The newswoman started reading out the names of the accident victims and showing their photos. Two of the fire fighters immediately left the room, one anxiously looked for the remote, the captain said the break is over and ordered everyone to resume training. Nobody wanted to talk about what just happened. Everyone behaved as if the incident hadn’t taken place at all. I learned quickly that in this culture you do not talk about it: you just get up, get back and keep working.
Sara G. Gilma
California Southern University School of Behavioral Sciences
I started work as a 112 emergency hotline dispatcher. One day I got a call about a bus crash on the highway. The bus was full of children and many had died on the spot, some were heavily injured. I had to contact all the families and inform them about the accident. It was one of the worst experiences in my life and I remember it to this day.
One of my worst calls as a paramedic was in 2016. I recognised one of the cars as I approached it. I tried to distance myself from this as I was stationed to assist the passengers of the other car. I did what I could and went back to the station. My mom called me and asked if I was ok. I said “Yes, but don’t tell me what I think you will tell me”. My mom said that my uncle Robin was in the other car. I was lost. I kept asking myself what would have been different if I had assisted him. Could I have stopped it? I had nightmares about it. I couldn’t eat or sleep.
Ashley Neubauer, Paramedic
Trainers can also play Ashley’s video where she talks more extensively about her experience:
The purpose of including data in the training is to illustrate that first responders constitute a vulnerable group with regard to their mental health as a result of their professional occupation.
- 2015, US: Out of 1027 retired firefighters 46.8% shared they had contemplated suicide; 19.2% that they had planned it and 15.5% that they had attempted it.
- 2012, Germany: 16.8% of emergency physicians had probable PTSD.
- 2012, Germany: 3.1% of respondent paramedics had clinical depression.
- 2017, US: at least 103 firefighters and 140 police officers died by suicide, while 93 firefighters and 129 police officers died in the line of duty.
- 2017, US: 50% of sample male firefighters share that they engage in heavy substance abuse (alcohol) once a month.
This data can be substituted with figures relevant to the national or regional context of the training without prejudice to its international transversal aspects.
It is important to underline that it is not always single highly grave events (such as terrorist attacks or natural disasters) which lead to mental health complications. It could be also that constant and cumulative exposure to grief or death leads to the development of such complications.