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A Simple, Effective Way to Offer Psychological First Aid in an Emergency

Posted by Maya Frost on


 

icon from flaticon. Reaching out to help others. Psychological First Aid (PFA) can reduce the emotional trauma experienced by those involved in an accident, crime, natural disaster, man-made disaster, earthquake, tsunami, hurricane, tornado, mass shooting, or other emergency situations. Even if an individual is uninjured, there is a high likelihood that the experience will result in psychological trauma. In fact, for every one physical injury in a disaster, there may be 4 - 5 psychological injuries. Bystanders who approach calmly and offer comfort can help those struggling to handle the situation. Disaster preparedness, first aid, comfort, compassion, outreach, assistance, kindness

In our last post, we talked about the easiest way to stay up to date on first aid techniques. 

Now, let's look at a different type of first aid. It's called psychological first aid (PFA), and it's exactly what it sounds like: responding to those who may be distressed by an emergency of any kind.

According to the Johns Hopkins Center for Public Health Preparedness, for every one physical injury that occurs in an emergency situation, there may be 4 to 5 psychological injuries.

This is isn't surprising given what we know about emotional trauma and its lasting effect on the brain. 

But a soothing voice and a calming presence can be very effective in reducing the psychological effects of trauma. Research shows that "a little help, rationally directed and purposely focused at a strategic time, is more effective than extensive help given at a point of less emotional accessibility." (Rapaport, 1965--yes, that long ago!)

As a compassionate helper, you can assist anyone who is not injured physically but shows signs of emotional distress by approaching calmly.


1) Say, "I can see that you're upset. How can I help?"
{Or: "Honey, are you okay?" or "You seem really scared. Can I sit here with you for a minute?" Say what feels right to you.}
2) If the person doesn't respond, add, "I'm a good listener." 

Sitting quietly beside the person might be the right thing at that moment. A touch on a shoulder or a hug can be very comforting, but offer this only after asking, "Do you want a hug?" Listen, offer calm words, and stay where you are until other help arrives.

Your act of compassion can have a profound effect in reducing trauma at a critical moment.

You might find yourself in the best position to offer psychological first aid to a child or adult in an emergency situation. If so, be calm, go forth, and offer comfort.

Does this all seem like second nature to you? That's because you're a natural helper!

We need more natural helpers like you to be prepared to reach out to others.

Find out what your Helper Profile is by clicking below.

Pick Your Helper Profile

Thank you for caring about others.

Love and safety,

Maya Frost is the founder of Compassionate Survivalist, a social enterprise empowering women to stay safe and help others. The company gives a big percentage of its profits to local community organizations offering disaster relief services in communities across the United States. Percent discount icon: flaticonxo

Maya Frost is the founder of Compassionate Survivalist, a social enterprise empowering women to stay safe and help others. The company gives a big percentage of its profits to local community organizations offering disaster relief services in communities across the United States. Percent discount icon: flaticon