New Guide Shows How to Provide Psychological First Aid After Terrorist Acts or Natural Disasters

Spanish language version of "Psychological First Aid Field Operations Guide," 2nd edition: creating CDs and printing the guide

During 2006 and 2007, staff at the National Center for Child Traumatic Stress Network and the National Center for PTSD designed, printed and distributed the second edition of the Psychological First Aid Field Operations Guide.

The guide provides a rigorous, systematic, evidence-informed protocol for the provision of psychological assistance to children, adults and families in the immediate aftermath of a terrorist incident and a natural disaster. Project staff also produced a PDF version of the document, available on CD and online, after sign-up.

The National Center for Child Traumatic Stress, based at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Duke University, seeks to improve access to care, treatment and services for children and adolescents exposed to traumatic events.

The national center and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration developed and maintain the National Center for Child Traumatic Stress Network and provide technical assistance to grantees within the network, oversee resource development and dissemination, and coordinate national education and training efforts.

The National Center for PTSD, based within the federal Department of Veterans Affairs, works to advance the science and promote understanding of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Key Results:

  • Project staff from the National Center for Child Traumatic Stress collaborated with staff from the National Center for PTSD to design, print and distribute the second edition of the Psychological First Aid Field Operations Guide. Working under a subcontract, the National Center for PTSD contributed strategies for assisting adults with PTSD, while the National Center for Child Traumatic Stress focused on issues concerning children and traumatic stress.

    The second edition—4,000 copies of which were printed—includes new sections on:
    • Supporting survivors whose loved ones are missing.
    • Helping those who have suffered the death of a loved one.
    • Helping parents talk to children about death and attending funerals.
    • Working with the elderly and disabled, as well as very young children.
    To inform the revision, project staff used a Web-based survey and feedback from hundreds of individuals who used the earlier version of the guide.

    In addition, on March 31–April 1, 2005, project staff used a grant of approximately $35,000 from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to convene a panel to review the guide and make suggestions for final revisions. The panel included researchers, frontline providers and survivors of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
  • Project staff also produced a PDF version of the document, available on CD-ROM and online.
  • Project staff distributed almost all of its 4,000 printed copies of the guide, along with 7,500 CD-ROM copies, to organizations working to address post-traumatic stress in children, including:
    • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Disaster Technical Assistance Center.
    • National Association of the State Mental Health Program Directors.
    • State mental health agencies.
    • State disaster mental health coordinators.
    • Other agencies and organizations across the Gulf Coast and nationally.

    In addition, there have been over 25,000 downloads of the online version of the guide from the center's Web site as of March 2008.

Under a second grant (Grant ID# 064764), the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior Center for Community Health created and disseminated a Spanish version of the guide.

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