February 6, 2019

Here is your Wednesday Wisdom series from the Family Assistance Foundation, reminding you that a fully-integrated approach for assisting survivors of traumatic loss involves a balance of head and heart. Wednesday Wisdom is written and copyrighted by Carolyn V. Coarsey, Ph.D., and distributed by the Family Assistance Education & Research Foundation Inc., www.fafonline.org . Reprint is available with written permission from the Foundation.
Perfect Partnerships
The outcome of a crisis is influenced by the help or hindrance which the individual receives from family, friends, informal caregivers and the professional caregiving agents of the community during periods of disequilibrium, while he is trying to work out a pattern of adjustment and adaptation to the upsetting circumstances.
-Gerald Caplan, M.D., Father of Crisis Psychiatry                                                                                 

The Foundation’s up-coming Americas Member-Partner meeting, April 4-5, 2019, in Burbank, CA will focus on how an organization can best integrate their individual plan into the larger community response. Two recent shootings where multiple agencies and organizations came together collectively to support and care for innocent victims who were confronted with overwhelming trauma, will form the backdrop for the learning experiences. As with all Foundation meetings, the attendees will learn from survivors and family members of both tragedies, as well as responders who did their best to assist them.

The Pulse Nightclub located in Orlando, FL was the scene of a shooting on June 12, 2016, where 49 people were killed, and 53 were injured.

On October 1, 2017, in Las Vegas, NV, a lone gunman opened gunfire at a music concert, killing 58 people. A total of 851 people were injured, 422 of gunshot wounds, with the others injured in the aftermath of the shooting.

History of Preventive Psychiatry

Ironically, the scene of a nightclub fire in 1942 where 492 people were killed led to the first study of its kind on the effects of sudden and traumatic loss and how a community can best assist those impacted by grief in these circumstances. British born and educated psychiatrist, Gerald Caplan is regarded by many as the father of crisis psychiatry—and his teachings form the basis of the Human Service Response™ training and approach for supporting survivors, practiced by the Family Assistance Foundation. 

When trauma strikes the workplace of one of our member organizations, much of what was learned from that original study is applied. Dr. Caplan became known in the US when he joined with another psychiatrist, German-born Eric Lindeman, to study the effects of grief and trauma on the victims of the Cocoanut Grove Nightclub fire, 1942. A total of 492 people died in the fire, and their work together is regarded as one the most significant events that led to the development of crisis intervention as we know it today, and greatly influenced the field of community psychology.

HSR™ follows Dr. Caplan's principles of preventive psychiatry which states that when adverse circumstances following a crisis are held to a minimum, this dramatically lowers the number of cases of psychiatric disorders. In HSR, this is known as preventing second assaults, and is greatly enhanced when all responding agencies and members of the organization join together, helping victims restore a sense of control and order to their lives more quickly.

While local community leaders bring order to chaos with law enforcement where needed, and medical assistance, along with spiritual and counseling professionals, the business organization helps with material resources. In the HSR model, the company whose customers, employees and their families directly experiencing the crisis are provided practical support, i.e., information, transportation, accommodations, food and money needed for medical treatment, and other related costs. 
Certain pre-existing factors may load the dice as to the impact of the crisis on an individual, but what happens to the survivor at the time of the crisis may lead to a bad or good result. A major goal is to train people on the spot at the time of the crisis to tip the balance over to the side of emotional health.
-Gerald Caplan, M.D .
Corporate emergency managers and those in leadership positions today are challenged to meet the demands of their daily operations, including routine exercises for testing the readiness of their internal response capability. But, to ensure the best possible results for those impacted by a tragedy involving their company, it is advisable to ensure that local agency responders are invited to exercise as part of the corporate plan, as often as possible.

The 2019 Americas Member-Partner Meeting will demonstrate how to incorporate an organization’s plan into the broader context involving local authorities and other agencies who bring valuable resources to the response. To follow Dr. Caplan's advice, to train all helpers engaged in a response to "tip the scales" toward emotional health; this is best accomplished when the entire community response is well-rehearsed, and all involved are committed to functioning together as one large team.
© 2019 Higher Resources, Inc./Aviem International, Inc.