When a critical incident occurs, it can feel like an emotional earthquake to the survivor, disrupting his or her overall functioning. In cases of prolonged trauma (e.g., childhood sexual abuse or war), there is no immediate “clean-up” effort, resulting in prolonged exposure to trauma. In other cases, such as natural and human-made disasters and acts of terrorism, there are often large-scale responses to intervene immediately following the event. The impact of crisis, trauma, and/or disaster on the mental health of the survivor is dependent upon the type of critical incident, the available resources, the actions of the responders, the physical and emotional state of the survivor, and the survivor’s support systems.
For this Assignment, read the case study Sam located in this week’s resources. Think about the impact of crisis, trauma, and/or disaster on the individual in the case study. Think about a crisis, trauma, or disaster that you have experienced. Reflect on the impact it had/has on your mental health and the mental health of those around you.
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Case Study: Sam Sam has been a disaster volunteer for the last 3 years and has served on his local critical incident stress team for a year and a half. In total, he has responded to 12 critical incidents. He has served as a secondary witness to three school shootings, five train and/or car wrecks, three tornadoes, and one hurricane. Sam has seen devastated neighborhoods, grieving survivors, and distraught emergency responders. Sam sought help for himself when he started to experience burnout. He has been seeing a professional for the last several months as a result of what he calls “responder exhaustion.” He doesn’t think he can handle seeing another firefighter break down in tears when recounting his latest effort of carrying a dead body from a burning house while the grieving family members watched, hear another terrorized account from junior high school students who witnessed a classmate shot down in the hall, or see more vacant expressions on mothers who lost their entire homes in a matter of minutes.
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