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Emotional First Aid

Emotional First Aid: A set of life skills used by lay citizens and emergency responders to provide the support a person who is emotionally shocked needs immediately following a crisis event.

How to Help the Emotionally Injured After Tragedy Strikes

Reach Out Physically

  • Position yourself at the victims side and at his level.
  • Touch - unless the victim pulls away
  • Use a soft voice
  • Use the victim's name

Reach Out Emotionally

  • Ask the victim how he is feeling
  • Acknowledge the victim's experience
  • Don't minimize the victim's experience (i.e. "You'll be O.K.")

Don't Overlook the Quiet Victims

  • Many victims after a tragic event are stunned and may appear unaffected.¬† Remember that many people can be affected by a tragic event - witnesses,¬†rescuers, children....Don't overlook these invisible victims.
  • When you suspect someone is affected by a tragic event, reach out with Caring Curiosity - How are you?

Protect: Protect the victim from making impulsive decisions. Most major decisions can wait until the victim is thinking clearly

Reassure: Many victims have an urgent need for information after a tragic event - "What happened?"; "Why?" Assist the victim in getting the information he needs. The victim may need an Information Advocate.

Organize: Victims are often paralyzed after a tragic event and often lose their capacity to deal with all the new demands created by the tragedy. Assist the victim in developing a simple plan. Suggest - Let's focus on what needs to be done now."

Reinforce: the actions which the victim is taking or wants to take to emotionally survive the tragic event. The victim will struggle to find something or someone to hold onto in the first few hours. You may need to "clear the way" so that what the victim wants to do he is able to do.

Summary: In the first few hours after a tragic event, the victim is often surrounded by people who have "a job to do" or who have opinions about what the victim should or shouldn't do. The primary goal of the person providing Emotional First Aid is to enable the victim to act according to his wishes, values, and beliefs and not according to what others think should be done.

Emotional First Aid Training

What is the TIP National Emotional First Aid Course? An 8-hour course which teaches the skills necessary to help others in the first few hours following a tragedy. Topics presented in the course include:

The TIP National EmotionalFirst Aid Course is based on the lessons learned by TIP volunteers in 1,000's of tragic situations. Who Should Attend?