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article imageQuick Trauma Recovery Help Critical for All Catastrophe Survivors

By Carol Forsloff     Feb 14, 2009 in Health
A flood or fire sweeps into an area bringing destruction everywhere. The horror can be overwhelming. Recently Australians have been victimized by fire that psychologists say can cause lasting trauma.
They remind folks how important it is for survivors to be given immediate help.
Catastrophes, psychologists declare, can be especially traumatic. The after effect brings emotional responses that can go on for days, months or years. People say they relive what happened and have problems that include wakefulness, crying, depression, anger and fear. Some have problems coping with everyday living. They often need immediate help from other people. Even the hero pilot of the US Air Plane, Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, who calmly took controls of his plane, landing it in the Hudson River to save 155 lives, has reported having after effects emotionally. So have his crew and the people rescued.
Early support for survivors of catastrophes, according to the Australian Psychological Society, includes:
“1. promoting a sense of safety and control
2. helping people contact friends and loved ones, and connecting families
3. assisting people to get the help they need while encouraging them to get involved in their own recovery
4. allowing survivors to have their own reaction, and
5. instilling hope.”
In the United States Red Cross volunteers are among the first responders to an area. They moved folks to New Orleans and around the State of Louisiana to help the survivors of Hurricane Katrina. Afterwards they referred people for continuing counseling and support to private agencies, like Volunteers of America. The Red Cross has responded to victims of Gaza, earthquake survivors in Asia, and flood victims in Louisiana, such as from Hurricane Katrina, and counselors are among those who help.
Helping children recover from trauma requires special skill. One website details the techniques used by psychologists who help young children come to terms with what has happened. It is sometimes needed to provide counseling for a very long time because children may suffer problems in school, crying, nightmares and other reactions that can continue to cause hurt.
A form of debriefing is important for those who have gone through trauma. Experts say without having some support for victims of catastrophes caused by flood, fire, war, earthquakes and events like 9/11 is essential to help prevent long-term trauma reactions.
The author was a Red Cross volunteer mental health counselor, the only one on site in Natchitoches, Louisiana at the time of Hurricane Katrina and has had direct response with trauma survivors. She was on vacation to Louisiana from Hawaii at the time and decided to move permanently to the area to continue to help victims.
More about Catastrophe, Hurricane Katrina, Hero pilot
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