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Psychological First Aid
Healthcare Professionals

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  • Encourage individuals 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. Petty Officer Second Class Paul Roszkowski/U.S. Coast Guard Photo
  • 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 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, refer to www.ready.govLeaving OMH site and Leaving OMH site

When Disaster Strikes
Influenza is reaching epidemic proportions throughout your county. The local public health director has declared a health emergency, placing all hospitals, clinics, and medical providers on high alert. With the national concern and publicity about influenza, you know that your healthcare facility will be overwhelmed with people, some with actual flu symptoms and many who are worried that they have been exposed to the flu.

man receiving medical care
Andrea Booher/FEMA Photo

Individuals who are sick will be encouraged to stay home from work and social activities. Parents will stay home to care for their children or older family members who are sick. Many doctors, nurses, and healthcare staff will be exposed to the sick and dying and may get sick themselves. Staffing levels will be reduced; resources will be stretched; stress levels will be high. You know that it will take more than medical expertise to maintain an effective and organized environment and to perform essential job tasks.

Psychological First Aid in Healthcare Settings
Your background and training tell you that in times of crisis it is imperative to keep people calm and to provide support to co-workers, patients, and family members who are experiencing high levels of stress and uncertainty.

People may find themselves overwhelmed by the magnitude and complexity of issues and problems they must face in trying to work, care for family members, understand the treatment options available to them, and get effective medical services, all within a healthcare system that is overwhelmed by the demand placed

Psychological First Aid (PFA) can play an important role in helping people cope with stressful situations. 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 or in the midst of a public health emergency. Since situations like this make no discriminations among victims, you can expect people from all ages and life circumstances to experience stress responses that will test your patience and fortitude.

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 and throughout the public health emergency.

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

Petty Officer Second class Paul Roszkowski/U.S. Cost Guard Photo

Recognize basic needs and support problem-solving.

Validate feelings and thoughts.

Provide accurate and timely information.

Connect individuals with support systems.

Provide education about stress responses.

Mark Wolfe/FEMA Photo

Reinforce strengths and positive coping strategies.

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.