The recent tornado tragedy in Oklahoma has been in our thoughts recently. Our attention has been focused on the suffering of so many individuals in that area. This disaster helps us remember that our lives can be so quickly disrupted by the capricious forces of nature. As the news media has focused our attention on the recovery efforts there, we have also been made aware of the essential role of the American Red Cross in providing support during such disasters. When so many have been rendered homeless, without the basic necessities to survive, including much needed medical care and mental health support, the American Red Cross is mobilized immediately to provide the needed resources.
Many psychologists are not aware that the American Psychological Association, in partnership with local state associations, has established a Disaster Response Network. This is a network of psychologists or other mental health professionals who have received training from the Red Cross to provide basic support services at disaster sites. Psychologists who join of the network become qualified to be deployed to disaster sites. Their crucial duties include providing basic care, comfort, and support to people who are experiencing disaster related stress. The disaster mental health worker provides kind, calm, compassionate support; active listening; accurate and timely information; realistic reassurance; and connections to social supports and resources. This service is often perceived as invaluable to the disaster victim. I can tell you from personal experience that the work is very rewarding.
OPA is in the process of expanding the Ohio based portion of the Disaster Response Network. This means there is a need for more psychologists to join the network by going through the brief Red Cross training. The Ohio Disaster Response coordinator is Dr. Margie Kukor. I urge anyone who is interested in finding out more information about becoming a volunteer to contact her. More information can also be found on the APA website.