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Emergency Aftercare

The adrenaline of the emergency is over. The crisis has passed but why can’t we move forward? There is a need for “aftercare” in any emergency or traumatic event. This is the care for the person who performed CPR for 6 minutes waiting for an ambulance, the care for the employee who witnessed the amputation of a hand, or the care for the first aider who held the hand of the traumatized employee who was just assaulted.

Do you have an “aftercare” program? What does it look like? How long does it last? How frequently do you check-in with those who were involved or impacted? In the summer of 2020 (in addition to all of the other emotions in our lives), I experienced a new grandchild, COVID-19 hurdles and other business struggles, my first summer in a new home, and then I faced a “second-hand” dose of trauma that impacted a family members’ business. It had me wondering about our need for “aftercare” in the workplace.

What do we need to do beyond an Employee Assistance or victim’s program? These programs are very good and helpful, but often we find employers offering these programs or sending employees to them and then washing their hands of any further aftercare. Perhaps as we review our emergency preparedness and response plans, we can add some thoughts on aftercare. When do you stop “checking-in” with affected employees? At what point do you cross a line with your workers and put yourself in a position of unwanted interference?

I always struggle with offering too much counselling or opinions and never really knowing when enough is enough; but I also know there are many times when I have failed to recognize the consequences that an emergency has delivered to a worker or peer. Is it enough to have a line in a policy that says EAP will be offered, do we not need to design a program, suitable in the circumstances, to care for those who have suffered during the emergency?

A few ideas on what an “aftercare” offering would look like:

  • Opportunity to talk about what happened that is ongoing, with their supervisor or manager.

  • Support group at work for those who have also dealt with the effects of an emergency.

  • Owner/senior leadership to check in with those impacted by the emergency to offer support and to hear about the event.

  • Interview by Safety Committee on the emergency, to be part of any investigation or recommendations for prevention.

  • Those impacted are given an opportunity to review reports, investigations and any information that resulted from the emergency, so they are assured all precautions are being taken to prevent a re-occurrence.

So, what do you think? Is there value in discussing an “aftercare” program when we discuss emergency preparedness and response?

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