Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Emergency mental health lessons learned from Continental Flight 3407 disaster

Date:
March 1, 2011
Source:
University at Buffalo
Summary:
When a disaster's physical evidence is gone -- debris removed, shooter arrested, ashes cold -- the psychological effects of the disaster on emergency responders and civilians involved still may burn. Emergency mental health, a field often overlooked in the chaos, is a vital component of any disaster response, but may not be well-represented in emergency preparedness planning.

When a disaster's physical evidence is gone -- debris removed, shooter arrested, ashes cold -- the psychological effects of the disaster on emergency responders and civilians involved still may burn.

Related Articles


Emergency mental health, a field often overlooked in the chaos, is a vital component of any disaster response, but may not be well represented in emergency preparedness planning.

Trained mental health responders to the Continental Flight 3407 disaster outside Buffalo in 2009 share their lessons learned on mental health preparedness in an article that appears in the current issue of Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness.

Gregory G. Homish, PhD, assistant professor of community health and health behavior at the University at Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions and a specialist in emergency preparedness, is first author.

"We hope our lessons learned will be useful to others to help them prepare for future disasters," he said.

"Although it is a gross understatement, the crash of Flight 3407 was a tremendous loss for the families and friends of those on the aircraft, on the ground and for the community at large," Homish continues. "However, pre-disaster planning, training and evaluations of previous responses help to ensure a coordinated approach to providing mental health services to all of the individuals in need."

The assessment found several key successes. Perhaps the most important was that authority and relationships among responders were clearly identified in advance.

"Each emergency mental health team was assigned to a specific population, and leadership from all three teams communicated regularly by telephone or in person to ensure adequate coverage and no duplication of services," says Homish.

"Many first responders are members of multiple teams in which they play different roles. For Flight 3407, responders chose a single team and had to stay with that team for the duration. This requirement was a lesson learned from a previous disaster, when it wasn't clear which team the individual was representing. This creates communication and coordination problems."

Other positive results were: Responders covered all persons who might be affected by the crisis, including responders and community members as well as victims and families.

Mental health referrals were long lasting and included nontraditional mental health approaches, such as canine therapy and massage therapists.

Also, preparedness includes ongoing recruiting of new members and providing frequent low-cost or free training, which keeps all responders up to date and familiar with other team members. Homish points out that these interactions provide essential skills training and increase efficiency during a deployment.

The report also discusses some areas in need of improvement. It points out that during a crisis one person may need to be assigned to focus entirely on administrative services, such as scheduling and coordinating the emergency mental health functions, to increase efficiency.

An additional recommendation noted the importance of integrating emergency mental health personnel into the overall command structure from the beginning.

"The emergency mental health function was not represented initially during command briefings," says Homish.

"For the first 24 hours, command staff made decisions about mental health needs of the community without having an expert available to provide consultation and direction. This resulted in a slight delay in the delivery of a comprehensive response to those affected by the disaster."

A final recommendation emphasizes that employers of volunteer responders need to be prepared to release emergency team members quickly from their jobs.

"It's also important to note that traditional mental health services such as therapists, and complimentary approaches, such as canine therapy teams, are available to everyone, families as well as responders," Homish adds.

Additional contributors to the "lessons learned" report are Bonita S. Frazer, emergency mental health planning coordinator, Metropolitan Medical Response System; Daniel P. McCartan, Program Coordinator, Western New York Regional Resource Center for Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Response, Erie County Medical Center Corporation; and Anthony J. Billittier IV, MD, commissioner of the Erie County Department of Health and director of UB's Office of Pre-hospital Care.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University at Buffalo. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Homish et al. Emergency Mental Health: Lessons Learned From Flight 3407. Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness, 2010; 4: 326-331 [link]

Cite This Page:

University at Buffalo. "Emergency mental health lessons learned from Continental Flight 3407 disaster." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 March 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110301160935.htm>.
University at Buffalo. (2011, March 1). Emergency mental health lessons learned from Continental Flight 3407 disaster. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110301160935.htm
University at Buffalo. "Emergency mental health lessons learned from Continental Flight 3407 disaster." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110301160935.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) A scandal involving bogus classes and inflated grades at the University of North Carolina was bigger than previously reported, a new investigation found. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) Feast your eyes on this gorgeous family-friendly resort. Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
What Your Favorite Color Says About You

What Your Favorite Color Says About You

Buzz60 (Oct. 22, 2014) We all have one color we love to wear, and believe it or not, your color preference may reveal some of your character traits. In celebration of National Color Day, Krystin Goodwin (@kyrstingoodwin) highlights what your favorite colors may say about you. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins