On October 24, ten Bainbridge Island Emergency Medical Responders attended a two-hour Psychological First Aid (PFA) class at City Hall. The class was taught by Britt Gonsoulin, M.D., M.P.H., one of the leads for the emergency hubs’ PFA team. As the BIEMRs in attendance learned, PFA is a skill that comes in handy for everyone on an emergency team.
The plan is that, during a large-scale emergency, when people go to their local emergency hubs for medical care or other assistance, PFA-trained volunteers will be on hand to offer support and help victims deal with the aftermath of a crisis. The PFA volunteers will also be able to help other emergency volunteers, as they, too, may be in need of psychological first aid during a disaster.
All BIEMRs and all other emergency hub staff are required to obtain PFA certification. The reason is that these volunteers need to know how to handle their patients’ emotional and psychological needs during a crisis, in addition to attending to their injuries.
Gonsoulin emphasized three key principles during the class: (1) observe, (2) listen, and (3) link. The link part refers to making connections among people and between people and services to facilitate coping with a crisis situation.
The other PFA Team leads are Mary O’Leary, Ph.D., Linda Semlitz, M.D., and Gina Wind, Ph.D.
The next training opportunity is a Stop the Bleed class being offered by the Bainbridge Island Fire Department. For more information and/or to register, click here.
Photo by Christina Aitchison.