On November 2nd and 3rd, George and I attended these classes as offered through the Austin Disaster Relief Network. We were honored by Melissa Slagle presenting us with her knowledge, experience, and her great teaching abilities to create an environment that made it fun to be in a class for 13 hours between Friday and Saturday.
At first, you would think that it is all about being able to help the survivors move forward, but it is more than that. At a crisis event, one may not have time to provide an in-depth “counseling” type of situation, but one can help even more so by being a first responder in order to effectively “break the ice” (my words) to help the survivors break through that initial shock and numbness at the scene of the accident and assist them and/or escort them to a variety of resources that may be there, along with some initial breakthrough techniques. As volunteers, we wouldn’t necessarily be expected to offer therapy at all (in fact, that is left to the licensed professionals); however, we can show them that there are people who care and who are interested in seeing them through the crisis situation and help facilitate moving them forward — even just with the initial contact.
Besides the initial contact, the tools given this weekend allow me know to facilitate a debriefing process for those primary and secondary (friends and family members of the survivors too) survivors of the traumatic event; again, to help facilitate them being able to move forward with their lives. The debriefing may be done either at the scene (in a separate area from the direct scene), within hours, days, or weeks, or even months after the said event — because grieving processes and coping processing are different for different people.
The tools that I learned with this training are invaluable and I would have loved to have received these training tools long time ago to make me an even better advocate than I was before. I always knew that I was a great advocate (I would count the “God bless you”s that I would receive each day/night that I worked and cherished each one of them knowing that I had made an exception mark on that particular victim/survivor’s lives); but, I always knew that I could be an even better advocate. With these tools learned this weekend, I have a means to make myself an even stronger advocate and I think the Austin Disaster Relief Network for offering this class and making it possible that we had such a great teacher to learn from, Melissa Slagle.
I know that there is always still more to learn, and I’m looking forward to take more classes through the Austin Disaster Relief Network, as well as through Melissa Slagle and Living Solutions Crisis Management Training and Consulting. I know that I can’t wait until Austin Disaster Relief Network brings Melissa Slagle down to offer also the Chaplaincy Academy (a 3 part series) and I am presuming that the Academy won’t be brought to us (here in Austin, Texas) until after the new year as they aren’t teaching any classes in December; however, I am knowing that I should definitely be within that program.
If you are ever presented with the option to take a CISM class, I would encourage you to do it. Our curriculum was supported by the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation.
We are exhausted from the wealth of information and tools, but feel that everything we have learned has been an invaluable experience. Look forward to the periodic refresher courses being offered in the upcoming months and years to come, as well as the other classes we have signed up for in this month alone through the Austin Disaster Relief Network — ADRN’s DRC (Disaster Relief Coordinator) and DB (database) training, Psalms 91:1 (The Protection of the Lord) spiritual training, and the Call Center training.
In December, while there is no training per se, we are looking forward towards the UrbanShield opportunity which give us opportunity for some field training experience. If you haven’t looked into that, they are needing 1000 volunteers to participate in helping to train folks in responding to disasters.
UrbanShield Day #1 — facebook event page with details – https://www.facebook.com/events/526496890711571/
UrbanShield Day #2 — facebook event page with more details – https://www.facebook.com/events/272783989508649/
What does all of this have to do with my future experience up at the United Nations in Spring. While seemingly unrelated, it will better prepare me for self-wellness techniques as well as tools when working with others. The preparedness that I am working with the ADRN, provide me tools to handle any potential difficult situation that I might encounter, and provides me the confidence that I am as prepared as prepared as I can be.
Additionally, it will translate nicely to other advocacy roles that I have. 🙂
- Preparedness for Peace (unitednationsdelegate.com)
- Anger: A natural response to disaster (mercurialmind.com)
- Montana firefighters, incident commanders joining superstorm Sandy cleanup (billingsgazette.com)
- Stress Recognition and Mitigation for Emergency Responders (d4h.org)
- The Psychological Damage From Superstorm Sandy (npr.org)
- Crisis counseling, support hot line set up (whptv.com)
- After Sandy, communities mobilize a new kind of disaster relief (wagingnonviolence.org)
- Pressure on the front lines: Dispatchers at risk for PTSD (missoulian.com)
- When Everything Changes (psychologytoday.com)
- Managing traumatic stress: Tips for recovering from disasters and other traumatic events (wisewolftalking.com)