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These free classes will teach participants how to cope with emergencies and learn how to prepare, respond to, and recover from trauma. THE AMERICAN RED CROSS OF THE CHESAPEAKE REGION OFFERS FREE COMMUNITY PSYCHOLOGICAL FIRST AID CLASSESClasses Open to the Public and Taught by Red Cross Disaster Mental Health VolunteersThe American Red Cross of the Chesapeake Region invites community members to participate in a FREE, half-day training to learn how to better improve your mental health!
Buddy Care PFA Mental Fitness is the teaching and enhancement of natural human common-sense principles of support to promote normal recovery from traumatic events, such as helping people to feel safe,connected to others, calmand hopeful, with access to physical, emotional and social support; and importantly, also able to help themselves and co-responders. Resilience Building Life Skills – These life skills are carefully chosen to support the individual’s ability and confidence to utilise and implement the PFA component.
Psychological First Aid – Psychological first aid is based on the principle of “first do no harm”.
An important aim of Buddy Care Mental Fitness is to build care givers and survivor’s capacity alike, to recover by helping them to identify their immediate needs, and their own strengths and abilities to meet these needs.
The key words are “access to”: It is important to remember that not everyone who experiences an emergency will have emotional distress or problems during or after the crisis.
In the after math of a disaster the psychological “footprint” greatly exceeds the size of the medical foot print – possibly by ten times. Unaddressed stress and mental health needs, including those from exposure to violence and other potentially traumatic events, increase dropout rates, lower academic achievement, disrupt peer relationships, and impact overall well-being. A growing body of research shows that there are brief, effective interventions that have a long-lasting positive influence on students’ and staff members’ trauma-related distress. Schools are where children spend a majority of their day and where they receive substantial support from teachers and other staff members, and some schools are the primary setting for psychosocial support and child mental health services.
Students look to their teachers and to school administrators for leadership and guidance, while parents expect and demand that school personnel respond competently and appropriately in such situations. Buddy Care PFA Mental Fitness, in the context of schools, is intended for students, school personnel, and their familieswho wish to be part of an organised team prepared to deal with a disaster or other emergency involving their school, or neighbouring schools. Buddy Care mental fitness “first aid” helps you save lives by enhancing your own natural powers of recovery from unexpected disasters and traumatic events - just like the immediate appropriate attention you would give to a wound or burn. Emotional wounds might be less apparent than the physical losses of lives and properties, but take much longer to heal.
After the earthquake on 12 May, Gita Aryal from Gorkha district of Nepal is one of the 60 volunteers who have received psychological first aid training by the Nepal Red Cross Society, with the support of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). After the earthquakes, the Nepal Red Cross Society developed a plan to provide psychosocial support to earthquake survivors through capacity building for Red Cross staff and volunteers in a sustainable manner. Volunteers were selected from targeted districts to receive training on stress and coping mechanisms, psychological first aid, gender-based violence, the referral system, children and child-friendly spaces, and psychosocial support for volunteers and staff. Pabitra Basnet, a Nepal Red Cross Society volunteer of nine years from Lalitpur district and facilitator of one of the volunteer trainings, received similar psychosocial training by the Red Cross a year ago. Immediately following the earthquake on 12 May, Pabitra and about ten other Red Cross first aid volunteers participated in rescue efforts and first aid.
After the training, Gita, Pabitra and other trained volunteers will provide psychosocial education and information on health and hygiene, and water and sanitation for others within their community. In addition to training volunteers, the Red Cross is also coordinating with the IFRC and partner National Societies to organize trainings on school-based child-related activities for 20 teachers from each targeted district. The Nepal Red Cross Society has around 150 psychosocial first aid volunteers and 3 psychosocial support trainers. La Federacion Internacional de Sociedades de la Cruz Roja y de la Media Luna Roja es la mayor organizacion humanitaria del mundo, con 190 sociedades miembros.

Destruction in Togowere village, Ra district, where many houses were destroyed or damaged by Cyclone Winston. Fiji Red Cross staff and volunteers debrief with psychosocial support delegate Holly Griffin, after a day working in the community following Cyclone Winston. Fiji Red Cross volunteers and staff travel to communities affected by Cyclone Winston to provide psychosocial support. Fiji Red Cross volunteers and staff from Lautoka branch, who have just been trained in Psychological First Aid.
Psychosocial support delegate Holly Griffin with children from Togowere village, where Cyclone Winston severely damaged many houses. The roof of the Naisua family home was blown away by Cyclone Winston during a terrifying night for the family of four adults and five children, who took shelter together in their truck. Fiji Red Cross volunteers from Vanua Levu training in Psychological First Aid and psychosocial support so they can help communities affected by Cyclone Winston.
Fiji Red Cross volunteers debrief after providing psychosocial support to communities affected by Cyclone Winston. IFRC is training Fiji Red Cross volunteers in psychological first aid, so they can help people in their own communities recover emotionally from the storm.
Psychosocial support delegate Holly Griffin discusses the psychological impacts of disasters while facilitating a Psychological First Aid training course for Fiji Red Cross volunteers. Psychosocial support delegate Holly Griffin talks to Fiji Red Cross volunteer Teresia Daurewa about how her family and community are coping post-Tropical Cyclone Winston. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world's largest humanitarian organization, with 190 member National Societies. Fiji Red Cross Society volunteers gave 75-year-old Makarita help through the training they have received on psychological first aid (PFA) from Holly Griffin.
Makarita Racani is 75 years old but never dreamed she would live to see the sea swallow her house. When two young Fiji Red Cross volunteers met Makarita four days after the cyclone, she was in a terrible state.
An expert in psychological first aid, Holly Griffin is training Fiji Red Cross volunteers to provide emotional support for their communities, using lessons learned at New Zealand Red Cross during the 2011 Christchurch earthquake.
Ms Griffin says the volunteers’ training revolves around the “3 L’s” – looking for signs of emotional distress, listening as people share their experiences, and linking them to the appropriate services.
During the follow up visit by the two young Red Cross volunteers Makarita holds tightly onto their hands, smiling at the pair she affectionately refers to as “my granddaughters”. However they have a stand-alone value that contributes to character building and community conscious behaviour. Research shows that one’s positive belief in our ability to cope can predict outcomes, so those who are optimistic, positive and feel confident that life and self typically, do better after experiencing mass trauma.
Thus, programmes such as Buddy Care are not only important for the well-being of children and school personnel, but are also critical for the central educational mission of schools. Buddy Care draws from the best available PFA evidence, identifying factors that promote improved student and staff functioning after disasters and other emergencies. Emergency events that often disrupt the learning environment, include transportation accidents, peer victimization, staff or student deaths, school stabbings and shootings, injuries on the playground or sports ground, suicides, criminal gang infiltration. In many ways, teachers and staff are the “first and last responders” for children in an emergency.

In a school-wide emergency, children’s “everyday” school personnel can provide much of the intervention needed to stabilize the situation.
Whether an emergency occurs on school grounds or in the community at large,schools can serve as a central location for professionals to assist the larger community when a large scale disaster strikes too.
Following the earthquakes in Nepal, apart from the thousands of lives and hundreds of thousands of homes lost, there are a countless number of people suffering from the trauma of losing their loved ones, and still fear returning to their crumbling homes. This also entails strengthening child resilience and developing the ability to cope with stress for staff and volunteers. Through activities such as the sharing of experience and feelings, group activities and role-play on active listening, the participating volunteers also get the chance to develop and practice stress coping skills for themselves as well as others. Its trained volunteers are participating in psychosocial support activities organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross for missing families in 26 districts and child-friendly space in 6 districts.
Siendo uno de los componentes del Movimiento Internacional de la Cruz Roja y de la Media Luna Roja, nuestra labor se rige por los siete principios fundamentales: humanidad, imparcialidad, neutralidad, independencia, voluntariado, unidad y universalidad. After the storm, local children found the Red Cross flag and decided to raise it as a sign of hope. Psychosocial support was identified as a need after the Category 5 Cyclone Winston, the biggest to ever hit Fiji.
Two weeks after the cyclone the children are all smiles as they talk about their hopes of returning to school in the coming week. As part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, our work is guided by seven fundamental principles; humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality. Her picturesque seaside village of Nukubalavu on Fiji’s Vanua Levu island sits along miles of white sand fringed by swaying coconut trees. The old woman shook and cried as she recalled the hours of terror spent sheltering in an evacuation centre as water swirled around her feet and window panes shattered in the 300kmh winds. So far she and her Fiji Red Cross counterpart have trained 104 volunteers in PFA, who have in turn reached more than 400 people in the community. People have memories and emotions connected to these places, so when they’re damaged or destroyed, part of rebuilding is not only rebuilding the structure itself but rebuilding those emotional connections and those memories, and making new positive memories on top of what has been a negative disaster experience,” Ms Griffin says. It’s also important for the volunteers to debrief amongst themselves at the end of the day, as the job can be sad and stressful. Daughter Luisa says the psychological first aid provided by the volunteers has been invaluable.
Psychological first aid content is integrated in the emergency first aid training and community-based health and first aid modules. Just as we arrived at the church we looked back and saw our house washed away by the waves. I want to help other children who were affected as well as other parents who have lost their child,” Gita said in tears. After completing the course, participants will also be able to share their knowledge and teach others in the community what they learned. This course is open to the general public (healthcare background is not required).Advanced registration is required.

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