Reports of natural and
human-caused disasters are ever present throughout our country. We hear the
stories of seemingly insurmountable challenges faced by families,
neighbors, businesses, communities, and sometimes entire states or
territories. The one constant we can rely on before, during, and after a
disaster is the support and service given by first responders. But what do
first responders need for their own recovery from traumatic events?
This issue of The Dialogue from SAMHSA’s Disaster
Technical Assistance Center (DTAC) highlights the challenges first
responders experience throughout all phases of disaster response—the
visible and obvious and the veiled. The authors provide insight into the
unique culture of the first responder community. This awareness is
significant to providing effective behavioral health services in a manner
that is valuable to and accepted by first responders.
What have you found
to be essential to the care of your first responder team or community? Are
there important lessons learned from your field experiences that could be
highlighted by SAMHSA DTAC in future issues of this newsletter? Please
share your experiences via email to DTAC@samhsa.hhs.gov.
Selected reader comments will be printed in a future edition of The
Fit To Protect and To Serve: A Police Officer Talks About Posttraumatic
Stress Disorder (PTSD) A police officer shares his story about
developing PTSD after being shot in the line of duty. He discusses the
physical and psychological pain of PTSD while relaying the importance of
knowing the signs and symptoms and the value of talking through issues, especially
with others with similar experiences.
Is Reality for Disaster Survivors A rescue specialist with Massachusetts Task Force 1 (MATF-1)
relates the importance of first responder training and self-care to
better manage survivor reactions to disaster. Including a behavioral
health professional as part of the response team is discussed as a
proactive approach to fostering team resiliency.
Trauma in First Responders Following Disaster Response The author discusses first
responder care, as part of disaster planning, to address the unintended
mental burden that can develop from long-term exposure to disaster
response. Understanding the culture of the responder community is key to
identifying and providing effective behavioral health support services.
First Responders Experience and Cope With Trauma? The author provides a
description of possible physiological and psychological responses that
first responders may experience during a traumatic event. Coping
mechanisms and ways to foster resilience as a first responder are also
Dialogue, a quarterly technical assistance journal, is an
arena for professionals in the disaster behavioral health field to share
information, resources, trends, solutions
to problems, and accomplishments. Read previous
issues of The Dialogue.
The views, opinions, and content expressed in this
publication do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or policies of
the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), the Substance Abuse and
Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), or the U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services (HHS).
We value your input.
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