Wednesday, January 02, 2008

L.A. County Prepares for Psychological Aftermath of Disasters

The Los Angeles County Health Service recently published a training manual for healthcare personnel, to prepare for drastically increased demand for psychological services in the aftermath of a disaster.

This is not a well-defined area of study, so some of the recommendations are provisional. But it's a step in the right direction, as it seeks to provide "protocols, templates, and tools that clinic and hospital staff can use to better prepare their facility and to follow in addressing psychological casualties after an event."

The manual closely examines the psychological aftermath of previous events, such as the 2002 SARS outbreak, the 1995 sarin gas attack in the Tokyo subway, and the 2001 anthrax attacks in Washington D.C.

An important point for preparedness professionals: The psychological trauma of these events was in some ways more significant than the physical threat, with at least 4 times as many people suffering mental health effects, compared to medical effects.

Worthwhile reading...

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