While not exactly first aid, during an emergency or survival situation some psychology may need to be employed. A person who is overcome with grief at the loss of a loved one, shocked by the effects of a disaster, or otherwise in a debilitating frame of mind is at far greater risk than someone who is focused and determined. Having a basic understanding of how to get someone to "snap out of it" or otherwise rapidly deal with a psychological issue could save lives. A professional psychologist can help a person "deal" with their issues in a more complete way later, during a disaster it is more important that they keep functioning.
Mitigating Stress following a Disaster
What can survivors do to reduce the risk of negative psychological consequences and to best recover from disaster stress? Researchers are beginning to conduct studies to answer this question. Observations by disaster mental-health specialists who assist survivors in the wake of disaster suggest that the following steps help to reduce stress symptoms and to promote postdisaster readjustment.*
Protect: Find a safe haven that provides shelter; food and liquids; sanitation; privacy; and chances to sit quietly, relax, and sleep at least briefly.
Direct: Begin setting and working on immediate personal and family priorities to enable you and your significant others to preserve or regain a sense of hope, purpose, and self-esteem.
Connect: Maintain or reestablish communication with family, peers, and counselors in order to talk about your experiences. Take advantage of opportunities to "tell your story" and to be a listener to others as they tell theirs, so that you and they can release the stress a little bit at a time.
Select: Identify key resources, such as FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, or the local and state health departments, for clean-up, health, housing, and basic emergency assistance.
Taking each day one at a time is essential in disaster's wake. Each day is a new opportunity to FILL-UP:
Focus Inwardly on what's most important to you and your family today; Look and Listen to learn what you and your significant others are experiencing, so you'll remember what is important and let go of what's not; Understand Personally what these experiences mean to you, so that you will feel able to go on with your life and even grow personally.
- The construct "Protect, Direct, Connect, Select" was developed by Diane Myers, unpublished manuscript.