Mass Emergencies and the Emergency Responder
Disasters as traumatic events are individual, interpersonal, community, and political events. This chapter reviews disasters in terms of their types and characteristics, size, duration, and impact on individuals and communities. The phases of a disaster include the pre-disaster warning or threat phase, the impact phase, the rescue stage, the disillusionment phase, and the recovery and reconstruction phase. Each phase of disaster brings unique challenges for first response professionals and in turn interventions require ongoing assessment, sensitivity, and appropriate application. Additionally, this chapter examines risk factors for adverse outcomes in relation to the psychosocial resources available to the disaster victims and emergency response professional. Effective peer support and mental health responses to first responders to disasters are far more than a collection of separate and individual interventions. Disaster mental health and peer support work requires knowledge of disasters and wide range of interventions with individuals, groups and organizations while having the tolerance if not “savvy” for the politics.
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