25 January,2021 | Reading Time: 6 minutes
Psychological first aid or PFA is a humane initial disaster response intervention offered to fellow human beings in need of support. It aims at promoting safety, stabilizing disaster survivors, as well as responding to the psychosocial needs of individuals and families suffering the impacts of disaster and terrorism.
It can be offered to first responders as well as other disaster relief workers. One of the most important principles of psychological first aid is to take care of the immediate needs and concerns of individuals affected by a disaster and not offer on-site therapy.
What is it not?
The action principles of PFA do NOT include:
Based on the research on risk and resilience, field experience, and expert opinions, the following elements have been considered as the five basic components of psychological first aid. These components need to be the major focus while delivering PFA:
PFA is about helping people in distress and ensuring they receive immediate basic requirements, services, and support. There are four action principles of psychological first aid that lay down the way to approach people in need and aid them in fulfilling that need.
|Prepare||Before you enter a crisis site, know and learn about: -|
|The Crisis Event
|· What happened?
· Where did it happen?
· When did it happen?
· How many and who are affected?
|· Who is providing for basic needs (emergency medical care, food, shelter)?
· When and where can people access services?
· Who is helping, including community members?
|Safety and Security
|· Is the crisis over or ongoing (aftershocks, fighting)?
· What dangers may be in the environment?
· Are there places to avoid due to insecurity or because it is not permitted to be there?
· Scan for dangers
· Be there only if you can keep yourself and others safe.
|· If you are unsure of your safety, don’t enter that place.
· Communicate from a safe distance.
|People with obvious urgent basic needs||· Is anyone critically injured?
· Does anyone need a rescue?
· Does anyone have obvious needs? (e.g. clothes, blanket, food, water)
· Who may need help to access services or to be protected?
|· Know your role
· Try to obtain help for people who need special assistance
· Refer critically injured people for care.
|People with serious distress||· How many and where are they?
· Is anyone extremely upset, immobile, not responding to others or in shock?
|· Consider who can benefit from PFA and how best to help them.|
|Make contact||· Approach respectfully
· Introduce yourself by name & organization
· Ask if you can provide help.
· Help person feel comfortable (water, blanket)
· Try to keep them safe.
|Ask about needs & concerns||· Although some needs are obvious, always ask
· Find out a person's priorities – what is most important to them.
|Listen & help people feel calm
|· Stay close to the person
· Do not pressure them to talk
· Listen in case they want to talk
· If very distressed, help them feel calm & make sure they are not alone
|Basic Needs||· What needs do they request?
· What services are available?
· Don’t overlook the needs of
· vulnerable or marginalized
· Follow up if you promised to do so
|Help people cope with problems||· Help them prioritize urgent needs (what to do first)
· Help them identify supports in their life
· Give practical suggestions on how they can meet their needs (e.g. registering for food aid)
· Encourage them to cope better; this will help them feel better.
|· Keep children with their caregivers and families together.
· Help them contact their friends and loved ones.
· Provide them religious support. (e.g. Holy books, etc.)
· Make sure people know how to access services.