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Psychological First Aid
Employers and Supervisors

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  • Encourage employees to engage in physical activities and to combine these activities with useful tasks.

Take care of yourself

  • Get enough rest and eat healthy foods.
  • Pay attention to your own stress responses.
  • Seek out family and friends for support.
  • Try exercising or other physical activity to relieve stress.
  • Engage in helpful, productive activities that are satisfying and useful in the situation.
  • Follow the advice you would give others.
  • Manage your own reaction when faced with emotional outbursts from others by:
    • Remaining quiet and calm.
    • Avoiding the temptation to engage in a shouting match.
    • Acknowledging the personís point of view.
    • Disengaging and respectfully walking away from the person if you are being insulted or threatened.
    • Contacting law enforcement personnel if you feel that you are in danger.

For more information about Emergency Preparedness and Psychological First Aid Psychological First Aid, refer to www.ready.govLeaving OMH site and Leaving OMH site.

When Disaster Strikes
Itís the middle of the day. Your meeting is disrupted when you hear the fire alarm. From your location, you cannot tell what is happening. Some co-workers are ignoring the alarm; others are trying to find out what is happening.

man receiving medical care
Robert Kaufmann/FEMA Photo

Then, you hear an explosion somewhere within the complex. Security is clearing your building and you are running to the nearest exit. Outside itís cold and dreary. The sky is dark from the billowing smoke.

You think about the people you know who may be trapped and notice the distressed looks and tear-filled faces of your co-workers. You feel you must do something useful. But what can you do?

Psychological First Aid in the Work Environment
You can provide comfort care and assistance to co-workers and their family members by using Psychological First Aid (PFA).

PFA is a way to give emotional support and help to people of any age, ethnic and cultural heritage, and social and economic background in the immediate aftermath of disaster.

You know that the scene before you is only the beginning. The immediate effects of this tragedy will be felt by employees for weeks. The loss of co-workers, reductions in productivity, and difficulty managing and paying the workforce will critically affect your company.

Robert Kaufmann/FEMA Photo

You can use PFA to meet the basic needs of people in stressful situations, no matter what the differences are among them. PFA will provide you with basic strategies to help people cope with their pressing concerns and needs in the days and weeks after the disaster.

Reach out to those who need help and provide comfort care.

Jocelyn Augustino/FEMA Photo

Recognize basic needs and support problem-solving.

Validate feelings and thoughts.

Provide accurate and timely information.

Andrea Booher/FEMA Photo

Connect co-workers with support systems.

Provide education about stress responses.

Reinforce strengths and positive coping strategies.

Lief Skoogfors/FEMA Photo

Project Director/Subject Matter Expert: Jack Herrmann, MSED., NCC, LMHC

Reviewer/Subject Matter Expert: Valerie Cole, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist

Designer/Writer: Antonia Messineo

© University of Rochester, 2007. These materials were made possible by funding provided by the New York State Office of Mental Health and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control, Public Health Preparedness and Response for Bioterrorism grant, Cooperative Agreement No. U90/CCU216988 administered by the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) and Health Research, Inc. (HRI). The content is solely the responsibility of the project director and does not necessarily represent the official views of DHHS, CDC, NYSDOH, or HRI.