DTAC Bulletin: Supporting First Responders


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Resources for Supporting First Responders

First responders—police, fire, and emergency medical services personnel—are often exposed to traumatic and high-stress events in the course of their duties. It is important that they not only have the skills to deescalate and safely manage crisis situations, but also that they possess the skills needed to cope with the behavioral health issues they may experience around a crisis.

The following resources focus on first responders' specific needs—to help them better assess crisis situations and respond in the safest way for all involved. Also included are resources to recognize the signs of traumatic stress caused by responding to disasters, tips for managing stress, and tips for getting back to daily life after a disaster.

Creating Safe Scenes Training Course
Creating Safe Scenes is a free online training course that helps first responders work with individuals experiencing a mental health and/or substance use crisis. This course is designed to help first responders understand more about mental health, mental illness, and substance use disorders so they can better assess risks and apply the safest strategies for taking care of themselves and the individuals they are called to serve.

Disaster Behavioral Health Information Series (DBHIS): Disaster Responders
This part of the SAMHSA DTAC DBHIS includes resources first responders can use to respond effectively, restore survivor well-being, and care for themselves, so that they can continue to serve. Intended for responders in a wide range of fields—police, firefighters, emergency medical services personnel, humanitarian aid workers, public officials, and emergency managers.

SAMHSA DTAC offers several tip sheets to help first responders after disasters and traumatic events. Several tip sheets are also available in Spanish.

Psychological First Aid for First Responders
This brochure adapts traditional psychological first aid (PFA) to be used to help first responders manage their reactions during and after a disaster. It offers strategies for coping with the psychological aspects of a traumatic event such as managing intense emotions, and includes resources such as treatment locators. Using PFA for first responders can promote an environment of safety, calm, connectedness, self-efficacy, empowerment, and healing.

Emergency Responders: Tips for Taking Care of Yourself
This Centers for Disease Control and Prevention webpage includes important self-care steps responders should take before, during, and after a traumatic event.

Check Out These New SAMHSA DTAC Products

Tips for Health Care Practitioners and Responders: Helping Survivors Cope With Grief After a Disaster or Traumatic Event
Provides health care practitioners and disaster responders with guidelines for communicating with survivors experiencing grief. Background information about the grieving process and what happens when the grief process is interrupted and complicated or traumatic grief occurs is included as well as helpful resources for additional assistance.

Tips for Survivors: Coping With Grief After a Disaster or Traumatic Event
This tip sheet contains information about grief, the grieving process, and what happens when the process is interrupted and complicated or traumatic grief occurs. It also offers tips and resources for coping with both types of grief.

Questions About the SAMHSA DTAC Bulletin?

The SAMHSA DTAC Bulletin is a monthly newsletter used to share updates in the field, post upcoming activities, and highlight new resources. For more information, please contact:

Captain Erik Hierholzer

Nikki D. Bellamy, Ph.D.

The views, opinions, and content expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or policies of the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Reference in this email to any specific commercial products, process, service, manufacturer, or company does not constitute its endorsement or recommendation by SAMHSA. SAMHSA is not responsible for the contents of any "off-site" webpage referenced in this email.

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