It is important to have policies and procedures that ensure people impacted by a crisis are put in contact with the crisis response team or local support services.
It should be the nature of the incident that activates this contact, not the reactions of those affected, as the need for help is difficult to assess immediately following a traumatic incident.
Psychosocial follow-up should be an integrated part of the emergency services’ work. This means that personnel from police, ambulance, fire and medical all need to know the basic principles of psychological first aid.
Nils Petter Reinholt – Special Adviser, RVTS East
At the scene or immediately following the incident, emergency responders need to assess the need for acute psychosocial care. The following questions can aid in this assessment:
- Are the reactions of the impacted individuals reasonable?
- Can the social network provide support?
- Are children and adolescents adequately cared for?
- Have the emergency responders the resources and knowledge to provide adequate psychological first aid?
- Are local support services such as a GP or psychiatric health providers available?
- Are impacted individuals feeling adequately cared for?
If a rapid response from the crisis response team is required, emergency services can establish contact. If the situation is less critical, emergency responders should obtain consent from those affected to facilitate contact the next working day:
“We will contact the local crisis response team and they will contact you tomorrow to see how you are going and whether you need support. Is this ok with you?”
To ensure efficient co-operation, emergency action cards for the emergency services and crisis response team can be coordinated.
To ensure continuity, the number of people responsible for follow-up in the first period after the incident should be limited. This makes it easier to assess progress and identify which support measures may be necessary.
The recovery process is individual and support measures should be based on the affected person’s needs. However, proactive follow-up is recommended to ensure possible needs are met. The responsibility for follow-up lies on the professionals, not on those impacted by the crisis.