Stopping the Emotional Bleeding Following a Disaster

by tnbutterfly Admin

2,986 Views | 7 Comments

Last week, our nation experienced two more tragic events. The bombings in Boston and the explosion in West, TX left many people dealing with feelings of anger, anxiety, and fear. There have been several catastrophic events over the past decade and a half, natural disasters as well as man-driven attacks. Katrina, 9-11, Newtown, Columbine, Aurora, VirginiaTech..........to name a few. Arm yourself with resources that will help you stop the emotional bleeding following a disaster.

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    Stopping the Emotional Bleeding Following a Disaster

    Last week, our nation experienced two more tragic events. The bombings in Boston and the explosion in West, TX left many people dealing with feelings of anger, anxiety, and fear. There have been several catastrophic events over the past decade and a half, natural disasters as well as man-driven attacks. Katrina, 9-11, Newtown Columbine, Aurora, Virginia Tech..........to name a few.

    The effects of a disaster, terrorist attack, or other public health emergency can be long lasting, and the resulting trauma can also affect those not directly impacted by the disaster. Exposure to traumatic events can have a major impact on our emotions, behaviors, cognitive functioning, and physical well‐being. People experience a range of reactions. It is common for them to report being more fearful, withdrawing from friends and family, feeling easily distracted or even frustrated by memory lapses, or failing to complete simple tasks.

    There are several resources available to victims, families, first responders, nurses, and doctors. Health care professionals can use these resources to help them assist their patients as they deal with emotional trauma as well as to help themselves cope with their own personal trauma. As nurses, we must remember that in order to take care of others, we must first take care of ourselves.

    Following is a list of helpful resources. These materials have been developed by various organizations on the basis of experiences in prior emergencies.

    Riverside Trauma Center - Practicing Self-Care after Traumatic Events
    Humans are resilient and most everyone will recover in a short amount of time – usually a few weeks. To speed our recovery, we need to remember self‐care is important and find ways to take care of ourselves on a daily basis. This article suggests a few things you can do to promote a return to normalcy.

    CDC’s “Coping with a Disaster or Traumatic Event”
    Lists resources that provide general strategies for promoting mental health and resilience.

    National Center for PTSD - Media Coverage of Traumatic Events
    Many people find it hard to resist news of traumatic events, such as disasters and terrorist attacks. Why is this kind of news so hard to resist? Whatever the reason, we need to understand the effects that this type of news exposure may have. This provides recommendations about viewing media coverage as well as tips for dealing with children and media exposure.

    SAMHSA Coping with Violence and Traumatic Events
    The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s clearinghouse of information on coping with traumatic events such as the Boston Marathon bombing, including resources for students, parents, teachers, caregivers, responders, and health professionals

    Self-Care for Disaster Behavioral Health Responders Podcast
    SAMHSA DTAC recently released a Self-Care for Disaster Behavioral Health Responders Podcast. The goal of this 60-minute podcast is to provide information, best practices, and tools that enable disaster behavioral health (DBH) responders and supervisors to identify and effectively manage stress and secondary traumatic stress through workplace structures and self-care practices.

    5 Tips on Talking to Kids about Scary News
    When tragic events flash across the news, parents might find themselves awkwardly fielding questions from their kids. How do you explain that scary events do occur while still making your children feel safe?

    How to Talk with Children about Boston Marathon Bombs
    Dr. Gene Beresin, a child psychiatrist and director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Mental Health and Media, offers some helpful information in this article on how to handle this with children from preschoolers to teens.

    National Association of School Psychologists’ Tip Sheet for Parents and Teachers
    High profile acts of violence, particularly in schools, can confuse and frighten children who may feel in danger or worry that their friends or loved-ones are at risk.


    Please feel free to add additional resources.

    For further discussion about the Boston Marathon Bombings, please read a corresponding article:

    Life after the Boston Marathon Bombings - Coping with the Trauma.
    Last edit by tnbutterfly on Apr 24, '13
    Blanca R, beckster_01, Blindsided, and 4 others like this.
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  4. About tnbutterfly

    tnbutterfly has been in nursing for more than 30 years, with experience in med-surg, pediatrics, psychiatrics, and disaster nursing. She is currently a parish nurse.....a position which she has had for the past 15 years.

    tnbutterfly joined Jun '06 - from 'TN'. tnbutterfly has 'More than 35 years' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'Parish Nsg, Disaster Nsg, Peds, Med-Surg'. Posts: 21,461 Likes: 11,077; Learn more about tnbutterfly by visiting their allnursesPage


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    7 Comments so far...

  5. 2
    Thank you for this very much-needed information. As a nurse, it seems that so many people turn to me for info, support, "counseling", ideas, etc. I answer/help/guide them as best as I can, but often run short.
    Esme12 and tnbutterfly like this.
  6. 1
    Quote from MessyMomma
    Thank you for this very much-needed information. As a nurse, it seems that so many people turn to me for info, support, "counseling", ideas, etc. I answer/help/guide them as best as I can, but often run short.
    You are quite welcome! I hope this is helpful.

    I was a disaster response nurse with the Red Cross following Katrina. It was an overwhelming experience, but I was glad to help. It was good to have lists of resources to utilize.

    Hopefully other resource links will be added.
    Esme12 likes this.
  7. 2
    Thank you for this resourceful piece, TNbutterfly. Acts of terrorism, natural disasters, and man-made destruction can wreak havoc on us emotionally, so it is important to know where to go for assistance in dealing with it all.
    Esme12 and tnbutterfly like this.
  8. 0
    I just found this, which will be good info to pass along to patients/victims of the bombing.


    Resources available to victims of marathon attack

    "In response to the Boston Marathon attack, Attorney General Martha Coakley and the Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance (MOVA) are providing information about the resources, services and financial support available to victims of the marathon bombing."

    "MOVA and the AG’s Office have provided several links on their websites to the many services available to those affected by this tragic event. Both are working together to coordinate with federal, state, and local providers to ensure consistent information about the growing resources that are available to victims. Those resources can be found on their websites at www.mass.gov/mova and at www.mass.gov/ago."

    The comprehensive services listed include trauma support, counseling, bereavement groups, financial resources, and many others. Services are free of charge, available to victims of any age, and services are located throughout the state. Eligibility for services will be determined by the service provider.

  9. 1
    FBI Victim Assistance

    "The FBI is the lead law enforcement agency responsible for investigating the bombings at the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. Crimes can have a devastating effect on victims and their families who may need assistance coping with the impact. Providing information and assistance to victims of the bombings is an important part of our work."

    "The FBI is legally mandated to identify victims of federal crimes that it investigates and provide these victims with information, assistance services, and resources."

    "If you were injured or witnessed the Boston Marathon bombings, you may be eligible for certain services and rights, including special funding to provide emergency assistance, crime victim compensation, and counseling."




    This website includes several great links to helpful resources.
    Esme12 likes this.
  10. 2
    Thank you for sharing these. They can be helpful especially with young children and even adults.
    Esme12 and tnbutterfly like this.
  11. 0
    Yes, I think all of us with children worry about how this all affects them. And as nurses, we can help guide parents.
    Last edit by tnbutterfly on Apr 25, '13


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