Each month, we will be featuring a different Bainbridge Prepares team so you can get to know them and their mission. Today’s spotlight is on the Psychological First Aid (PFA) Team lead by Linda Semlitz, MD and Mary O’Leary PhD, LCP.
The PFA team is focused on promoting safety, connectedness, and self-empowerment for the citizens of Bainbridge Island to calmly care for themselves and others in the event of a disaster or crisis. In fact, elements of PFA were regularly practiced by trained Bainbridge Prepares volunteers at our COVID vaccination clinics during the height of the pandemic.
As we have become increasingly aware, mental and physical health play dual roles when considering a person’s entire well-being, particularly in times of crisis. This balance is top of mind in the disaster response world as across the globe rapid action teams are staffed with mental health professionals alongside traditional emergency responders.
The PFA leadership team, in addition to Linda and Mary, also includes Lauren Storck, PhD and Kelsey Lynch, BIPD Community Health Navigator. The team meets monthly, attends the Bainbridge Prepares Team Leads meetings, and stays abreast of materials helpful in training community members and first responders.
The PFA team offers an “Introduction to PFA” training that lays the foundation for volunteers to become officially certified by completing an excellent online PFA training provided by the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health https://www.jhsph.edu. To date, there are now more than 45 Bainbridge Prepares volunteers trained in PFA.
Accomplishments and Objectives
The PFA team provides training at CERT classes and offers regular trainings to many Bainbridge Prepares teams. The PFA team strongly encourages certification for all Bainbridge Prepares team leads and Map Your Neighborhood (MYN) leads and is currently exploring how PFA training can become a regular curriculum item in both CERT and BIEMR training, as well as in the larger MYN program.
Additionally, the team has created PFA materials for the hubs, materials for documentation of services rendered, brochures, and provided official Field Manuals in PFA. The PFA team has recently enhanced its training materials by adding role play simulations, and will be part of the Cascadia Rising 2022 multi-state disaster drill.
Additional information on the PFA team, along with videos and graphics can be found on the team’s home page at Bainbridge Prepares https://bainbridgeprepares.org/psychological-first-aid/.
Photo: Linda Semlitz and husband Ed Gilbert staffing a Bainbridge Prepares COVID vax clinic