Other positive results were: Responders covered all persons who might be affected by the crisis, including responders and community members as well as victims and families.
Mental health referrals were long lasting and included nontraditional mental health approaches, such as canine therapy and massage therapists.
Also, preparedness includes ongoing recruiting of new members and providing frequent low-cost or free training, which keeps all responders up to date and familiar with other team members. Homish points out that these interactions provide essential skills training and increase efficiency during a deployment.
The report also discusses some areas in need of improvement. It points out that during a crisis one person may need to be assigned to focus entirely on administrative services, such as scheduling and coordinating the emergency mental health functions, to increase efficiency.
An additional recommendation noted the importance of integrating emergency mental health personnel into the overall command structure from the beginning.
"The emergency mental health function was not represented initially during command briefings," says Homish.
"For the first 24 hours, command staff made decisions about mental health needs of the community without having an expert available to provide consultation and direction. This resulted in a slight delay in the delivery of a comprehensive response to those affected by the disaster."
A final recommendation emphasizes that employers of volunteer responders need to be prepared to release emergency team members quickly from their jobs.
"It's also important to note that traditional mental health services such as therapists, and complimentary approaches, such as canine therapy teams, are available to everyone
|Contact: Lois Baker|
University at Buffalo