You probably are familiar with medical first aid, the immediate but limited care provided to survivors suffering a medical emergency. Medical first aid usually is employed at the scene of disasters, crises, and traumas to help survivors who have been physically injured. For example, an army medic will try to stop the bleeding of a wounded soldier before removing him or her from the battlefield for further treatment. Psychological first aid is similar to medical first aid in that early intervention is provided at the scene, immediate needs are addressed first, and the likelihood of recovery improves as a result.
In the aftermath of a disaster, crisis, or trauma, the use of psychological first aid can lessen the negative psychological impact of the event on survivors. Crisis workers employing psychological first aid might start with making connections with survivors, enhancing their safety, and providing them with physical and emotional comfort. They might also offer practical assistance, such as helping survivors complete paperwork, providing information about community support resources, and explaining effective coping strategies. All of these actions can have a powerful influence on how well survivors cope during the aftermath of a disaster, crisis, or trauma.