Self-care tips to use

Normal Reactions to a Disaster Event:

  • No one who responds to a mass-casualty event is untouched by it.
  • Profound sadness, grief, and anger are normal reactions to an abnormal event.
  • You may not want to leave the scene until the work is finished.
  • You likely will try to override stress and fatigue with dedication and commitment.
  • You may deny the need for rest and recovery time.

Signs That You May Need Stress Management Assistance:

  • difficulty communicating thoughts;
  • difficulty remembering instructions;
  • difficulty maintaining balance;
  • uncharacteristically argumentative;
  • difficulty making decisions;
  • limited attention span;
  • unnecessary risk-taking;
  • tremors/headaches/nausea;
  • tunnel vision/muffled hearing;
  • colds or flu-like symptoms;
  • disorientation or confusion;
  • difficulty concentrating;
  • loss of objectivity;
  • easily frustrated;
  • unable to engage in problem-solving;
  • unable to let down when off duty
  • refusal to follow orders;
  • refusal to leave the scene;
  • increased use of drugs/alcohol;
  • unusual clumsiness.

Ways to Help Manage Your Stress:

  • Limit on-duty work hours to no more than 12 hours per day.
  • Make work rotations from high-stress to lower-stress functions.
  • Make work rotations from the scene to routine assignments, as practical.
  • Use counseling assistance programs available through your agency.
  • Drink plenty of water and eat healthy snacks such as fresh fruit and whole grain breads and other energy foods at the scene.
  • Take frequent, brief breaks from the scene as practicable.
  • Talk about your emotions to process what you have seen and done.
  • Stay in touch with your family and friends.
  • Participate in memorials, rituals, and use of symbols as a way to express feelings.
  • Pair up with another responder so that you may monitor one another’s stress.

Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Knowledge Exchange Network, Rockville, MD.