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ATTC Region 2: Preparing and Managing Natural Disasters



Robert Peralta De Jesus, MA, MHS

Northeast & Caribbean ATTC

The Institute of Research, Education and Services in Addiction at the Universidad Central del Caribe, School of Medicine has provided various trainings for first responders, community leaders and healthcare providers. In early January of this year, with the atmospheric events that occurred in Puerto Rico, being impacted by earthquakes, we developed a series of trainings in order to train first responders, community leaders, and healthcare providers to be able to cover the needs of citizens who were directly and indirectly affected. The first training was Psychological First Aid, based on scientific evidence to help children, adolescents, adults and families to face the immediate consequences of disasters or acts of terrorism. It was designed to reduce the initial distress produced by traumatic events, promote adaptive functioning and coping skills. We then provided a training in Psychological Strategies for disaster recovery so that the trainees could acquire skills in managing distress and coping with the stress caused by the events that occurred. Given the situation that the first responders and healthcare providers were going through, we decided to provide them with the tools and training they would need to avoid Compassion Fatigue. This series of trainings were offered in both languages ​​(English and Spanish) for both Puerto Rico and the USVI, and they were also modified to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As part of our commitment to educate and train during the pandemic, we offered a training titled; Skills for managing the isolation period among people recovering from substance use disorders. This was aimed for first responders, to offer tools to people who are in the recovery process with a substance use disorder, in the face of stressors that can cause social isolation due to the pandemic. Understanding the impact that this can have on the family, we also offered a training titled; How to prepare the family to offer support to a family member who is recovering during isolation.
This training was aimed at mental health workers to provide tools for the families of those still in treatment for substance use disorder during COVID-19, in which everyone must remain at home.

Given the uncertainty of what might happen in the future, we set out to offer training based on TAP 34; Emergency Response Planning: Behavioral Health Services for People Using Psychoactive Substances. Emergency response planning is an institutional standard, as it enables the continuity of essential services for communities in critical circumstances. The effectiveness of a plan depends on its consistency with the needs of the population it serves. This webinar is intended to integrate behavioral health services for people who use psychoactive substances as an essential part of a comprehensive emergency response plan.

It is our expectation to continue to provide trainings to all first responders, community leaders and healthcare professionals so they can provide quality service to all that are in need of there assistance.

Published:
08/05/2020
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The opinions expressed herein are the views of the authors and do not reflect the official position of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), SAMHSA, CSAT or the ATTC Network. No official support or endorsement of DHHS, SAMHSA, or CSAT for the opinions of authors presented in this e-publication is intended or should be inferred.

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