People Recovery Should be Key Focus for Crisis and Disaster Management

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I have been a frequent and persistent advocate for the importance of providing psychological as well as physical aid for people who have endured traumatic hyper-stress experiences. I think that such post-disaster care should be integral aspects of any crisis management or disaster recovery planning.

A recent CNN report on the horrific devastation inflicted by floods in Texas (Race to Find Survivors after Texas Flood) describes the emotional and psychological toll experienced by the survivors. The agony of those who lost homes and businesses is even more severe for those whose family, friends and even pets are among the injured, missing or killed in the floods. Events such as this natural disaster result in physical and emotional devastation for a wide range of people. Obviously, it will take time for those injured to heal, for those grieving to mourn and for business to get back to some semblance of normalcy.PTSD

For crisis management and disaster recovery, focus on facilities, operations and property is certainly an important aspect. However, one important aspect of recovery from these tragic events which should not be overlooked is the emotional and mental recovery of those affected psychologically and emotionally.

Shock and disorientation are typically the initial reactions in traumatic experiences. Research following the 9/11 terror attacks as well as the Boston Marathon bombings revealed that emotional and psychological effects even affected people who were great distances removed from the epicenter points. Such negative effects have been attributed to extensive media coverage as well as personal sympathetic “identification” with those who were suffering physically and emotionally. However, this psychological damage severely impacted those closer to the event including survivors, first responders and health care providers.

Full recovery for those impacted by traumatic crisis events will require diligence to monitor and assess the psychological impacts of this event, appropriate self-help, intervention strategies and long-term emotional and psychological recovery. Crisis managers can help mitigate the results of such a disaster by initiating established support systems that provide comfort, aid and recovery efforts which provide psychological first aid. Affected individuals should be encouraged to remain connected with others, avoid isolation, be empowered to acknowledge and accept their feelings, and maintain a balance between work and rest. As individuals and families begin to heal, this is also an appropriate time for businesses to evaluate their own plans for resiliency, continuity and support for when the next tragedy inevitably occurs.


Image copyright Katarzyna Bruniewska-Gierczak – used by permission, 123RF

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