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Psychological First Aid
Teachers and Educators

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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, refer to www.ready.govLeaving OMH site, Leaving OMH site,and www.nctsn.orgLeaving OMH site

When Disaster Strikes
School violence and natural disasters happen in other teachersí schools. You just canít see it happening in your school or on your campus. Then the day comes and you find yourself in the middle of a crisis.

One minute itís a typical day. The next youíre trying to move students and others to a safe location.

Robert Kaufmann/FEMA Photo

Students are depending on you, and you feel the responsibility in a way you never could have imagined. Every second counts. You speak words of encouragement to keep students and colleagues calm. The danger has finally passed.

Your school has been transformed; itís nothing you recognize. You orient yourself; lead your group away from the building. Itís then you realize some are injured, some of the students and your colleagues are stunned into a strange silence, and some are shaking and crying.

Parents are arriving on the scene and frantically looking for their children, and children are searching for their parents, siblings, and friends.

Spouses of school faculty and staff members are also trying to locate their loved ones.

The situation is heart wrenching and you feel you must help. What can you do in the minutes, hours, and days following such a tragedy?

Psychological First Aid in Your School
In the face of such a tragedy, you can offer comfort care and assistance to those around you by using Psychological First Aid (PFA). Think about the diversity before you with so many people from varying life circumstances all faced with the consequences of the disaster they share in common.

PFA is a way to give emotional support and help to people of any age or background in the immediate aftermath of disaster.

You know from day-to-day teaching experiences that each person has unique characteristics. Despite this, 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 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.

Mark Wolfe/FEMA Photo

Recognize basic needs and support problem-solving.

Validate feelings and thoughts.

Provide accurate and timely information.

Mark Wolfe/FEMA Photo

Connect children with support systems.

Provide education about stress responses.

Reinforce strengths and positive coping strategies.

children next to bus
Andrea Booher/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.