Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in Air Crash Victims

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in Air Crash Victims

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Accidents occur unexpectedly and the effects they bring about may be severe depending on their nature. The effects that are brought about by accidents vary in severity, and duration within which they affect individuals either directly or indirectly attached to the incidence. Air crash is one of the most fatal accidents and in most of the reported cases; there have been more casualties than survivors. The effects that are brought about by an air crash may be classified as either physical or psychological. In the physical effects, air crash brings about death, disability and injuries.
The effects from air crash are determined by among other things, the cause of the crash, the altitude and its speed at the time of crash. In addition, whether the aircraft catches fire or not after crash is another issue that determines severity of air accidents. There have been situations when survivors of air crash succumbed to fires erupting upon hitting the ground. Since the crash limits mobility, most of the victims succumb helplessly before the arrival of rescue teams. Among the different categories of persons affected by air crash, there are the survivors, family members and friends, members of the rescue team and the health practitioners handling the victims.
While the survivors may be affected by both physical and psychological aspects, most of the indirect victims suffer from psychological problems. After crashing, there are individuals who manage to remain arrive and in some instances leave the airplane before fire eruption. These persons are mostly partially hurt but get to experience the others burning helplessly inside the aircraft. The experiences by either direct or indirect victims lead to development of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (Epstein, Fullerton & Ursano 1998). This is a serious condition that affects persons having disturbing pasts, and who might have experienced shocking incidences.
The problem is manifested within an individual after the scenes from past experiences starts top recur, and they disturb the peace and rational aspect in an individual. Such persons may start to hallucinate, experience strange and horrifying dreams and if not monitored in time, the disease can get worse. Physical defects that may be experienced after air crash differ according to the impact and the nature of the crash. While to some it may be worse, there are those who manage to escape with slight injuries.
The survivors of air crash first develop stress and depression, coupled with fear.

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Since most air crashes are horrifying, survivors carry the horrifying scenes along even after recovering from the physical injuries. Although the stress may not develop immediately, the victims start comparing certain incidences with the specific crash, and its then that stress emerges. Hallucinations may start, with victims hearing cries and calls for help from those who perished in the crash. These experiences make the individuals unable to concentrate in their work and depression slowly sets in. This problem is also related to issues such as age, sex, and health status of the victims. While middle-aged persons fair better than the aged, the young workforce seems to be at a greater risk of developing post traumatic stress disorder (Epstein, Fullerton & Ursano 1998).
The post traumatic stress disorder is therefore one of the key issues that arise among survivors and other victims of air crash. The recurrence of the incidence and exaggerated horrifying images and incidences are some of the main issues after air crash. The other persons that are affected by the air crash are members of the rescue team. Whether rescue comes from professionals or volunteers, the scenes present at the crash site may be too bad to watch. Body parts and trapped individuals are some of the scenes that may haunt the helper. Although it may seem like a normal life-saving task, the images and incidences at the crash site may be too bad for the rescue members. In addition, the healthcare professionals who attend to the victims and survivors are also affected by the conditions of the survivors (Epstein, Fullerton & Ursano 1998). The images that are recorded by the medical professionals and other individuals connected to the crash are the ones that generate stress and depression.
Fear and avoidance of certain places and activities are other effects that are developed after surviving plane crash. Traveling and especially by air starts to bother some individuals and they therefore struggle to defeat the fear, but finally gives up. The withdrawal aspect is very dangerous since it increases the vulnerability of the victims to other psychological problems. According to Epstein, Fullerton and Ursano (1998), the risk factors depend on various other external issues like age of the patient, duration and degree of exposure, social support offered, gender, intelligence and the social class within which the victim belongs.
Severity of the victim’s conditions continues even after being admitted to a health facility. The experiences of the survivor are worsened by the hospital’s atmosphere and the many cries and even deaths that are witnessed. Research by Alexander (1990) associated social class with victims’ susceptibility. The research had findings that associated the conditions of the survivor after the crash with whether their social backgrounds were well-off. Unemployed persons as well as those with unstable backgrounds were found to be more vulnerable than those with stable social and financial backgrounds. The flashbacks and the physical deformities are some of the worst effects that survivors must live with (Chung et al. 2001). Although the physical deformities are confused for the visible regions only, the internal organs are also affected and in most cases, injuries to internal organs lead to lifetime support, or death.
Coping with damaged spleen, kidneys and other important body organs is a factor that may lead to lifetime medication and this may be financially and socially unbearable. The physical injuries are therefore largest influence to psychological problems. The scars that are left serve as reminders to the horrifying effects and coupled by the injury’s strains, post traumatic stress disorder sets in. children of the victims are also known to be affected by the condition even if born after the accident. This is due to the scars present on the parent and the stories existing about the crash. The victims also feel guilty of having survived and the condition gets worse, if the duration for protracted exposure to the horrifying scenes was long.
To reduce the effects, a counseling program should be introduced immediately after the crash. Although the program is expected to start immediately after recovery of the patient, it’s at times integrated with the healing process for severe cases. The focus of counseling should be on inspiring hope to those affected. This is especially to those left with deformities. A normal and healthy person, who later can’t walk perform certain tasks must be given the hope to live and be assured of prosperity through other means (Johnson et al. 2009). In addition, the counseling program is also meant to ease the feelings that haunt victims after recovery. The feelings lead to stress, which lead to depression; helping in identification and coping with the aftermath is very important.
Educating the victims and identifying the problems facing them is another important aspect that counseling should focus on. With the objectives properly laid out, the implementation process should be properly initiated. The implementation process should never worsen the situation; instead, it should be encouraging to the victims and serve as a beacon of hope. The approach of the counselors to the victims may increase the feeling of guilt. It is essential that the victims are notified in advance and in the appropriate way possible. Despite the essence of the counseling program, it can never be forced down an individual.
The counseling sessions should be voluntary, but also inspired by the counselors. Despite the alienation of the survivors and unwillingness to cooperate, counselors should ensure that victims are aware of the consequences and encourage them to participate. It should therefore start in hospitals, where the practitioners should state how normal their conditions were and the various ways of dealing with them. This is meant to give the patient positive feelings and trust. Eventually, the patients are expected to trust the counseling program to join in (Alexander 1990).
The counseling session should help the victims to live comfortably for the rest of their lives and remain available to them, even after showing signs of full recovery. They should inspire hope and assure the victims that they are safe, while encouraging every individual to dispel memories of past and focus on the bright future ahead. The helpers also require psychological counseling. This is due to the exposure to disaster and to some extent guilt of something they feel they should have done. The counseling program should be coupled by a debriefing measure that seeks to ease the feelings’ expressions. In addition, it’s meant to review the roles and responsibilities of the helper through identification of the positive gains available.
The debriefing program should also be a solution-seeking initiative, with focus being on the victims. It should therefore be more focused on making the helpers more vibrant in their work and always work with positive dedication. They should also ensure that the most affected are given the support they require, and that all accept their roles for increased efficiency. Respecting the success or any eventuality of the rescue teams should be encouraged as it gives the helpers assurance and removes the feeling of guilt. The practice is therefore very important in ensuring that the survivors lead a normal life, while the helpers carry on with their responsibilities without being affected by scenes from the past.
While the survivors are the most affected especially those that sustained physical deformities, the helpers are equally affected and it’s only through proper medication and counseling that the individuals can cope (Johnson et al. 2009). Social and family support is also important as it encourages openness and builds trust from the victim. With assurance of a better future, survivors tend to slowly forget the past and attain full recovery and experience speedy adaptation.

Works Cited

Alexander, DA 1990, ‘Psychological intervention for victims and helpers after disasters’, British Journal of General Practice, vol. 40, pp. 345-348.

Chung, MC, Easthope, Y, Chung, C & Clark-Carter, D 2001, ‘Traumatic stress and coping strategies of sesternary victims following an aircraft disaster in Coventry’ Stress and Health vol. 17, no. 2, pp. 67–75.

Epstein, R, Fullerton, CS & Ursano, RJ 1998, ‘Posttraumatic stress disorder following an air disaster: A prospective study’, The American Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 155, no. 1, pp. 934-938.

Johnson, M, Ken, L, Harris, L, Gillespie, M, Pusateri, A & Holcomb, C 2009, ‘Mortality associated with injuries sustained by aircraft accident burn survivors’, Internet Journal of Rescue and Disaster, vol. 8, no. 2, pp. 1-10.
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