Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Educate Employees Before Trauma Takes A Toll

Trauma in the workplace. It's a very scary time for victims and helpers. You can actually feel of sense of panic and responsibility and fear all at the same time. Will you...can you...respond to help people, and also impress management with your capabilities. I've been there. Listen, no matter how prepared you are, that shock hits your system. My last EAP served the fire department unit closest to the Pentagon on 9/11 (100 feet away on the helicopter pad!) so, I know that feeling of "oh man...." First, second, third...go here. You go there.''

But, here's the point: Periodically I get urgent emails from people asking if I have a handout on trauma. These requests frequently come after a critical incident when the urgent need of the caller is to help employees or affected persons understand traumatic stress, motivate victims to take advantage of support services like CISD groups, or participate in effective self-care, like getting enough sleep, eating correctly, laying off the alcohol to get to sleep, and anticipating "normal" symptoms associated with traumatic stress after witnessing a critical incident.

It would better I think to educate new first responders immediately upon hiring about traumatic stress and participating in CISD help after a critical incident and a heck of a lot more about why. A lot of these first responders are mentored, not by buddies who are savvy on critical incident stress, but a work culture that heads out after a shift with a six-pack in tow to "process the bad call". This is a prescription for PTSD or at least lowered productivity from the affects of traumatic stress over time. What can be done about this problem? Consider education about traumatic stress as part of an orientation session. Train employees in other workplaces and industries too where trauma is possible--like industrial settings, etc. Help employees understand and be psychologically prepared for the aftermath of trauma so they understand it as a wound or injury to the psyche that should be managed. Take a look at this product on "Facing a Traumatic Event" from WorkExcel.com and see if could help you accomplish these goals.