Categorized | National News

NEMA and PAHO Conduct Psychological First Aid Training

The National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organization, PAHO, held a Psychological First Aid workshop to equip residents with stress relieving skills following a disaster, man-made or natural.

The purpose of the workshop held at the operations centre on NEMA’s Way and Gladstone Road last Thursday was to provide training for disaster responders in the current mental health context of The Bahamas.

Director of NEMA Captain Stephen Russell said over the past two decades he has seen a number of disasters namely hurricanes, floods, boating and plane accidents, shanty town fires, hurricane shelter management, during which people were distressed following an impact.

“NEMA aims to build a core group of people who can learn the concepts of psychological first aid, to share and use what they learned when called upon during an emergency,” he said.

Furthermore, NEMA intends to keep a database or implement a call-up system so those trained can go to the specific impacted areas and administer help, similar to first responders work.

Experts in the disaster management and health fields describe Psychological First Aid as a human response to a fellow human being who is suffering and who may need support. It involves providing practical care and support, assessing needs and concerns, helping people to address basic needs (water, food, information) comforting people and helping them to feel calm, protecting them from further harm, amongst other things.

Experts also observe that individuals, families or entire communities may be affected. People may lose their homes or loved ones, be separated from family and community or may witness violence, destruction or death.

And, although everyone is affected in some way by these events, there is a wide range of reactions and feelings each person can have. They can feel overwhelmed, confused or very uncertain about what is happening. They can feel very fearful or anxious, or numb and detached. Some may have mild reaction while others may have more severe reactions, according to experts.

The course participants were: Trevor Basden, Bahamas Department of Meteorology; Samantha Miller, Bahamas Environment Science & Technology (BEST) Commission; Judith Scavella, Department of Public Health; Damario Barton, Public Hospitals Authority; Exanna Dormeus, Wellington Fergson, Debbie Lightbourne and Alison Prince, Bahamas Red Cross; Patrice Curry, Deborah Duncombe, Careb Forbes, Mike Holmes, Orson King, Tina O’Brian, Department of Social Services; Chief Petty Officer Ian Morley; Chief Petty Officer Ralph Gibson, Petty Officer Carlton Mackey, Woman Petty Officer Fredericka King, Leading Woman Marine Kimberly Bain, Leading Woman Marine Tiffany Forbes, Leading Seaman Kevin Smith, Lisa Deveaux, Royal Bahamas Defence Force; Lisa Deveaux, Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre; Clane Knowles, Department of Civil Aviation; and summer students Kellie Capron, Aprial Deane, Keino Stubbs and Ashl’ee Stubbs.

The overall purpose of the workshop was to provide information and train disaster responders on the following:

• PFA Definition and Framework
• PFA Action Principles
• Good Communication
• Case Scenarios and Role Plays
• Self and Team Care

The facilitators were: Dr. Claudina Cayetano, Mental Health Regional Advisor, Pan-American Health Organization/World Health Organization, Sherlin Brown, Administrator, PAHO Bahamas; and Luke Bethel, Operations/Training Officer, NEMA.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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