The Effects Of Traumatic Events On The Emergency Response Teams And Medical Staff

The Effects Of Traumatic Events On The Emergency Response Teams And Medical Staff

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Hurricane Katrina was one of the deadliest hurricanes to hit the USA, with fatalities reaching 1833. Katrina developed on the 23rd of August 2005 and reached peak strength on the 28th of August after being categorised as a ‘category 5’ hurricane the previous day. Several areas across Eastern North America were affected, however, the highest number of fatalities and the most widespread destruction was in Louisiana and in particular New Orleans. From the dates of the 26th – 28th August, over 1.2 million people were evacuated from Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama as part of voluntary and mandatory evacuation orders. As with all traumatic events, there are several communities that are affected. Vast research has been conducted researching the affects that traumatic events such as Hurricane Katrina can have on the evacuees, and the wide community as a whole. However, there is considerably less research investigating the psychological effects of traumatic events on the emergency response teams and medical staff. In this argument, the extent to which Hurricane Katrina affected emergency response and medical staff psychologically will be evaluated and compared with the general community. Furthermore, questions will be asked as to whether both communities received intervention strategies to improve these effects. Finally, if interventions were implemented, how successful were they at ameliorating these effects.

Although mental illness has been strongly regarded as an important issue in psychological and medical circles for over a century, only recently have the psychological effects of traumatic events been studied. In the 1980’s the DSM included Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in its diagnostic manual and it is described as a d...


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...ssful interventions for first responders. Psychological first aid involves developing a safe environment, maximising efficacy in the community and individuals, teaching the affected individuals to be calm, to remain connected, and to foster hope. This was most successful for first responder communities when administered by mental health care professionals in a Critical Incident Needs Assessment Team (CINAT). The researchers also outlined that psychosocial interventions such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) should be administered for those of the community who need it. This has been successful at alleviating PTSD symptoms for victims of rape; however, less is known of its affects with those affected by a traumatic event. Furthermore, this paper displays the effective interventions that should have been administered immediately after and during Hurricane Katrina.

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