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Trainers teach psychological first aid to first responders in Santa Barbara

SBA plane crash response
Posted at 9:16 AM, Sep 29, 2021

It isn’t therapy but psychological first aid that helps first responders in crises as well as the people they’re helping.

Psychological first aid includes eight core actions and self-care techniques.

Jina Carvalho, the director of the Santa Barbara Response Network and a trainer who works with the first responders assigned to the Santa Barbara City Emergency Operations Center, said there has been a lot of trauma recently – COVID 19, fires and so on, so the techniques are used to help someone feel safe after they have been hyper-alert and scared.

Psychological first aid helps to stabilize during but especially after a crisis as well as help prevent post-traumatic stress disorder.

“We've had a lot of first responders be trained, but also offer. One of them said 'it's like having one more tool in your toolkit.' It's like being able to be with the person when they're in crisis, and you yourself can be there more fully having the skills to be able to calm down that person. As a first responder, you're in high alert situations, but also it gives the response respond are the skills to be able to help themselves,” said Jina.

Carvalho said psychological first aid includes self-care in the training, so people have the ability to help others, and for first responders in those crises to regulate themselves while helping simultaneously.

First responders with the city of Santa Barbara participated in a training on Saturday and there is another one offered in November.