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Disaster, PTSD, and Psychological First Aid

Insights on Psychological First Aid

Psychological first aid includes strategies designed to help and support children, adolescents, and parents exposed to disasters and terrorism. The approach recognizes children and adolescents as more vulnerable to trauma and related stress due to their resilience weakness (Friedman, 2015). Psychological first aid is designed to help patients recover from initial traumatic distress and assure the patients short-term, midterm, and long-term coping with the traumatic events. Psychological first aid should be consistent and evidence-based, practically applicable in the field, appropriate, and culturally flexible.

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In executing psychological first aid, individual responders must make a keen observation before asking the affected children about the kind of help. Moreover, they should be careful prior to giving practical assistance such as food, clothing, shelter, and water (Fowler, 2015). After disasters, some affected people may require more help than others, and thus the aid should target the right individuals. Survivors should be spoken in a polite, sensitive, and patient way. While some needy remainders may avoid assistance, others who are undeserving will want to gain from the service (Fowler, 2015). Clear and interpersonal communication with these individuals will help to determine the exact problem they face.

Description of a Natural Disaster I followed on the Media

The flood disaster I followed was in Plano’s town within Collin County in Texas. Over 55% of the city was covered with water despite the city being located hundreds of miles from the ocean (Samuels, 2018). As I watched on television, the flood was occasioned by Lavon Lake’s overflowing, apparently due to low water absorption in the area. The flood swept through the town resulting in over 4,000 households displaced (Samuels, 2018). Notably, the event was especially destructive and led to vast loss of property.

Significant challenges for the survivors were lack of clean water and access to food. Children, women, and the disabled were the most affected category of people in the flood. A lady named Linda, caught up in the disaster, narrated how she had to relocate her children to friends until the situation calmed down. She also recounted how she experienced difficulty explaining to her fourteen-year-old daughter what was happening to them. The teenager elegantly took a long time to stop reflecting on the episodes, which made her vulnerable to trauma. Psychological first aid was manifested by the rescue team, which included professional specialists for providing psychosocial support. Survivors decried the need to support children and the most vulnerable psychologically.

According to the news, much of the help granted in the disaster was offered by the Red Cross. Some needy people were reluctant to register with the Red Cross for assistance. Although no lives were lost in flood, properties were destroyed. In addressing the problem, the Red Cross personnel first rescued the survivors to a safer area after identifying the most vulnerable people. They were provided with food, clothes, and alternative housing within the flood period until the water levels went down and they returned to their homes. While the Red Cross officers attempted to protect children from trauma, the psychological Aid was not enough. Arguably, the disaster response concentrated on saving the people and forgot to address the psychosocial support needed. A long-term psychosocial support program was required. Extended-lasting financial support could also boost the psychological healing process.

How First Responders Should React to Future Disasters

In the event of a disaster, the responders’ first action should target minimizing the hazards occasioned by the calamity. According to Friedman (2015), the affected people usually need rescue and emergency relief. Next, the responders should try to normalize the situation by allowing medical care, temporary houses, and grants. Responders should identify the most vulnerable people, such as children, and give them psychosocial support.

Children should get enrolled in short and long-term psychological healing programs. During the mitigation phase, parents should talk to their children about the disasters and involve them in planning for the catastrophes (Fowler, 2015). They should see the effects of disasters in other parts of the country. Involving children enables them to acquire resilience, cope with the situation, and prepare them psychologically, thus, avoid the psychosocial shock that leads to post-trauma depression.

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Fowler, S. M. (2015). Measuring the correlation between risk knowledge and comfort utilizing online medical data (Publication No. 1597628) [Master’s thesis, Purdue University]. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.

Friedman, M. J. (2015). Posttraumatic and acute stress disorders. (6th Ed). Springer.

Samuels. K. (2018). Plano residents report flooding from freak February downpour. Plano star courier. Web.

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