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Disaster Stress Tips for Rescue Workers

by Dr. Kathleen Hall

Disaster rescue workers can be paralyzed by survivor guilt and live with the constant fear that the next time they are called to a disaster, they too might not return. They must keep an eye out for future signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which is not uncommon in situations such as this. Common PTSD symptoms include dissociation, nightmares, substance abuse, panic attacks, rage, anxiety, and depression. There are ways for mine rescue workers and miners to reduce the effects of disaster stress. Some of the tips for rescue workers are listed below

Disaster Stress Tips for Rescue Workers

  1. Limit your hours. Limit on-duty work hours to no more than 12 to 18 hours per day, if possible.
  2. Make work rotations from high stress to lower stress functions. Rotate from higher stress jobs to lower stress jobs to balance your stress levels. Use counseling assistance programs whenever possible.
  3. Stay in touch with family and friends. Let your family and friends into what you are experiencing. They will provide a listening, supportive ear for you. Having a strong support system can make all the difference in your line of work.
  4. Renewal Rituals®. Stop every couple of hours to take some deep breaths and say a short mantra or phrase with your deep breaths. This will help restore your mind and body.
  5. Participate in memorials. These rituals can help you deal with grief. Memorials are a symbolic way to express feelings.
  6. Use the buddy system. Pair up with a responder so you may monitor each other’s stress.

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