Disaster can strike at any time – often because of natural disasters such as those seen above, or because of actions designed to hurt other people such as those seen on the photo page.
We find those times hard to understand and world wide people strive to help in times of crisis – but what they should be doing is a subject of much study and debate. Naturally people want to help – but how do we know what helps?
There has been much study over the years to try and decide what is most helpful – ideas that have changed in line with research.
The most current views on psychosocial care are in a sense quite logical and simple – at times of crisis and danger people want to feel safe and want to know what they are feeling is normal – so that they can begin to take control of their lives.
Psychological First Aid is an approach that seeks to normalise reactions, educate people about how they are and contain them psychologically by linking people to what helps them feel safe normally. It might be different for each one of us – but family, friends, work colleagues, sports friends or some religious bodies all have a part to play. This approach reminds us to tap into our own world to rediscover what is safe.
At times of crisis people cannot cope with too many words and therefore this practical approach works well – to be assisted by people who are good communicators ( who can come from all walks of life ) and who can help you find what makes you feel safe is a quick way of gaining understanding.
For those who may be interested in looking at this more there are two links on this page. The first to a detailed publication that is a Psychological First Aid Manual – a lenthy document but worth reading , and the second recent guidance published by the UK Government ( July 2009 ) to do with disaster and emergency planning and responses ( which also uses psychological first aid ).
As outlined above to know what helps requires an understanding of trauma generally.
Specialising in Post Trauma Psychosocial Care, Stress Management, and other Interpersonal Skills training, Gerry has wide ranging experience of providing support, consultancy and facilitating training and workshop groups in commerce, industry, local authorities and emergency services both nationally and internationally.
He is also an experienced counsellor specialising in similar areas to those above with a wide variety of clients including emergency services personnel and staff from commercial organisations.
Gerry has proven skills in identifying training needs, designing and delivering innovative and interactive courses and workshops in all aspects of management, stress, interpersonal relationships and related fields.
He served 30 years in the Metropolitan Police leading teams of uniform and detective officers operationally and with responsibility for their appraisal and personal development. Gerry trained at the National Police Staff College in management issues and skills. He has a wide experience of change management and conflict resolution. He trained as a trainer in the Police and managed a team of 7 training staff identifying training needs, designing and delivering innovative training for 500 operational police officers and civilian staff.
Gerry has personal experience of attending the scenes of many major disasters, leading a team of body recovery personnel, including Lockerbie, Kegworth and the Marchioness Riverboat Disaster and those experiences give him a unique ability to share his knowledge and understanding with others in a wide variety of training groups.
He has many years experience of providing support for people following major disasters, including rail disasters, aviation disasters, the tragedy in Warwickshire when 12 children died in a minibus crash and many less serious traumatic incidents. Together with this experience he is careful to keep himself at the leading edge of theory and practice in the field. This includes the very recent guidance documents from NATO, the European Union and the NHS.
He has provided Trauma Support training for a number of Fire Brigades and Police Forces and the Police Service of Northern Ireland and other police forces in providing training for their body recovery teams. Again that experience gives him a useful familiarity with some of the problems facing emergency services personnel and others working in major incidents.
He has also recently provided training for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Virgin Trains, Dudley and Birmingham Councils and the British Association of Airline Pilots.
Events for which he has provided support, both for primary victims and rescuers and workers include:
- Minibus crash on the M40 involving the death of 12 children and their teacher, 1993
- Southall and Ladbroke Grove train crashes, 1997 and 1999
- British Airways crash at Heathrow Airport, January 2008
- Helicopter crash in the North Sea, when 18 oil workers died, April 2009
- Various fire-fighters after a variety of incidents Bank raids, accidents, robberies etc