SITKA – A natural disaster, violence, suicide, and other catastrophic events can seriously affect not only individuals but also an entire community. Survivors often feel traumatized and are unprepared to deal with the emotional fallout that comes immediately after a crisis. The trauma may last quite a while or resurface weeks or years later.

A proven technique designed to assist those dealing with the physical or psychological symptoms associated with trauma exposure, known as “debriefing” allows those affected to process the event and reflect on its impact. Debriefing is ideally conducted on or near the site of the event and aids in short-term and long-term recovery.

Ten SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) staff recently trained as members of a Crisis Response Debrief Team to support the community if the need arises. In a 2-day event led by SEARHC Behavioral Health Division Director, Mary Teachout, and via teleconference sessions with Dr. Richard Nongard, LMFT. The group learned skills that include working with the Incident Command in charge of coordinating the emergency response to identify those most directly affected by the crisis and conduct a debrief session with them. The multi-disciplinary SEARHC team can deploy at a moment’s notice to help those impacted to begin healing and provide referrals to ongoing counseling as needed.

SEARHC is proud to collaborate with others in our community in response to a crisis by providing debriefing sessions that will help our neighbors recover emotionally after a major traumatic event. To request deployment of SEARHC’s Crisis Response Debrief Team call 966-2411, or toll-free, 1.844.5.SEARHC (1.844.573.2742).