Learn psychological first aid with this practical guide

The first aid approach in healthcare has a long history and developments in recent times. Not so psychological first aid, a newer term that is used more and more because it recognizes the importance to the person can have an emotional impact.

Anyone can be affected (as a victim or a witness) by a natural disaster, accident or terrorist act of some magnitude. It is therefore essential to have at least some minimum guidelines for action, the ideal being to include this content in the educational context or, if not, to carry out specific training in order to have effective intervention tools.

    Phases of a traumatic crisis

    There are several phases of a traumatic crisis: impact, reaction and post-event. However, we will focus on this article in the first phase, perhaps the most relevant in the field of psychological first aid to be the first. It has the following characteristics:

    • This is the phase that occurs immediately after the traumatic experience and can last for several minutes, hours, or even a few days.
    • The person is generally emotionally impaired, with limitation when it comes to thinking or acting. There is also a loss of sense of time and reality (feeling that this is not happening) and reactions ranging from hyperactivity (walking constantly in a certain direction) to stillness or paralysis.

    Intervention with the person concerned

    • First of all, the person acting as a stakeholder must identify, Ask the victim for her name and let her know that she is there to help.
    • It is essential to remove the victim from danger if that was the case.
    • The intervenor should remain calm and transmit it more, because he will serve as a model in front of the victim (s). In addition, he will try to rationalize the action and, in the event that the situation exceeds him, will call for help if possible.
    • Regarding verbal communication, it is advisable to speak in a calm and calm tone, giving clear and concise information, avoiding comments inappropriate for this situation and with an attitude of active listening.
    • For the non-verbal, it is necessary to maintain contact and adopt a comfortable but attentive posture.
    • It is equally important to provide basic necessities: water, food, blankets, etc. Also allow the victim’s emotion to flow by combining this action with others, such as distraction, to avoid continuing to draw attention to what happened.
    • A separate issue, and in many cases of equal relevance, is to avoid the curious. It is sometimes useful to assign tasks to these people to help them in the process and to promote greater confidentiality for the victims.

    Communication of bad news

    This is an important task of psychological first aid and although information harms the recipient, the good or poor performance of the responder in this communication can minimize or maximize the psychological impact of the recipient.

    It is important to know that there are factors that will determine the degree of impact of the bad news such as the personality of the recipient, the existence of previous losses, the relationship with the victim or the predictability or unpredictability of the bad news. new.

    On the other hand, it is relevant to distinguish in the action protocol three phases within this communication:

    1. Before starting the conversation

    • If possible, it is necessary to determine who is most qualified to deliver the bad news.
    • The sender or responder must have all the necessary information on what happened, when and where, on the person (s) affected, etc.
    • It is vitally important to have the identity of the victim or the deceased confirmed.
    • Adequate physical spaces must be provided with the necessary instruments and items (water, handkerchiefs, etc.).

    2. During the information

    • Whenever possible, information should only be given to the family once, to avoid giving it multiple times, which increases the impact.
    • The worker introduces himself and asks the family member if he knows the reason he was called.
    • The message should be short, avoiding to prolong it too much, in an understandable and delicate way, explaining what happened, the people affected and their condition. False hopes or incorrect information will always be avoided.
    • From this moment, different reactions will appear: tears, incredulity, silences, cries …) that must be allowed.
    • If no information is requested and there is more than one parent, the person giving the news withdraws and allows family expression, remaining in the background always attentive.

    3. After giving the bad news

    • Relatives should not be left alone if they retire.
    • Show empathy for feedback and cover basic needs.
    • Offer other sources of support.
    • Finally, analyze how the situation affected the person involved.

    Final tips

    As one can see, it is essential to have action protocols in the face of normally unforeseen events due to their consequencesThey involve emotional pain in victims and families.

    As we mentioned at the beginning of the article, given the importance that professionals and people not related to the field of health (each of us can attend such an event) have the tools to act in this area, training in this area becomes necessary.

    If you want to know more, do not hesitate to consult the distance course on psychological first aid that Psychological Training organizes from its website.

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