Psychological first aid training - Pirac

Psychological first aid training

07 February 2022

The Regional Intervention Platform for the Americas and the Caribbean (PIRAC), through the READY Together program, trained 51 members of the field teams of the Territorial Delegation and the French Red Cross establishments in Guadeloupe in psychological first aid.

Passing on good practices to volunteers and professionals in the field

The training aims at accompanying the intervention teams (staff and volunteers) to implement good practices in psychological first aid. These lessons are particularly useful when teams come to the aid of people affected by a crisis or disaster. These scenarios are often accompanied by social and psychological side effects such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and suicidal thoughts.

Mental health: an important role in disaster management

While response teams are often the first contacts with affected populations, psychological support is not adequately addressed in the humanitarian response. The READY Together program has developed this training so that teams working in the field understand how to implement psychological first aid practices and techniques. It also equips them with the essential resources and tools to protect themselves as field teams.

Strengthening the response capacity of National Red Cross Societies in the Caribbean

This training meets the READY Together program’s objective to strengthen the Caribbean territories’ preparedness for natural disasters and, in particular, to improve the response capacities of the National Red Cross.

Observe, listen, support: three key principles of action

The training modules for the field teams included methods to accompany affected people in dealing with traumatic events, complex situations and their stress reactions, including those in need of specific assistance, with an emphasis on putting into practice the principles of action – observe, listen and accompany.

This basic psychological first aid training was offered twice, from January 30 to February 1 and from February 3 to 4, 2022. It was attended by 33 people.

The psychological first aid training was divided into two separate sessions – field team training and supervisor training.

Special training for team supervisors

16 supervisors participated in the supervisor training, which addressed stress management and team support. The supervisor training, which took place on February 7, 2022, taught participants how to recognize and mitigate psychosocial risks when their teams are involved in potentially emotionally charged situations. In addition, this training highlighted supervisors’ responsibility for the well-being and mental health of their teams in general, and in particular following complex interventions.

Mental health professionals to train teams

The two psychological first aid training sessions were conducted by mental health professionals from the French Red Cross, who are well equipped to handle the strong emotions that response teams may encounter.

The participants, who included mediators, people involved in socio-medical work, emergency and rescue workers, benefited from exchanges around real cases with the trainers.

They also participated in various role-playing exercises, allowing them to understand the different perspectives in psychological first aid. The role of the rescued persons was particularly enlightening, providing insight on how to better respond to their needs.

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