When Tragedy Strikes 

Emotional First Aid

Emotional First Aid: A set of life skills used by lay citizens and emergency responders to provide the support a person who is emotionally shocked needs immediately following a crisis event.

How to Help the Emotionally Injured After Tragedy Strikes

Reach Out Physically

  • Position yourself at the survivors side and at his level.
  • Touch - unless the survivor pulls away
  • Use a soft voice
  • Use the survivor's name

Reach Out Emotionally

  • Ask the survivor how he is feeling
  • Acknowledge the survivor's experience
  • Don't minimize the survivor's experience (i.e. "You'll be O.K.")

Don't Overlook the Quiet Survivors

  • Many survivors after a tragic event are stunned and may appear unaffected.¬† Remember that many people can be affected by a tragic event - witnesses,¬†rescuers, children....Don't overlook these invisible survivors.
  • When you suspect someone is affected by a tragic event, reach out with Caring Curiosity - How are you?

Protect: Protect the survivor from making impulsive decisions. Most major decisions can wait until the survivor is thinking clearly

Reassure: Many survivors have an urgent need for information after a tragic event - "What happened?"; "Why?" Assist the survivor in getting the information he needs. The survivor may need an Information Advocate.

Organize: Survivors are often paralyzed after a tragic event and often lose their capacity to deal with all the new demands created by the tragedy. Assist the victim in developing a simple plan. Suggest - Let's focus on what needs to be done now."

Reinforce: the actions which the survivor is taking or wants to take to emotionally survive the tragic event. The survivor will struggle to find something or someone to hold onto in the first few hours. You may need to "clear the way" so that what the survivor wants to do he is able to do.

Summary: In the first few hours after a tragic event, the survivor is often surrounded by people who have "a job to do" or who have opinions about what the survivor should or shouldn't do. The primary goal of the person providing Emotional First Aid is to enable the survivor to act according to his wishes, values, and beliefs and not according to what others think should be done.

Emotional First Aid Training

What is the TIP National Emotional First Aid Course? An 8-hour course which teaches the skills necessary to help others in the first few hours following a tragedy. Topics presented in the course include:

The TIP National EmotionalFirst Aid Course is based on the lessons learned by TIP volunteers in 1,000's of tragic situations. Who Should Attend?