Handling trauma

The Rural Health Education Foundation (RHEF) produced a DVD recently as part of its professional development program on managing trauma.  It is an introduction for rural medical practitioners on how to identify trauma and how to advise on management.  The video was produced in conjunction with the Australian Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health and is unavailable at the moment due to a lack of funding.  However, the video, and others, are available online through a free registration at the RHEF website.

Trauma DVD 002Health and safety practitioners rarely prepare themselves adequately for handling a traumatized worker whether it is from a work experience or an issue outside the workplace.  OHS practitioners often have a linear perspective where an incident occurs, the personal damage is handled or referred on and the avoidance of recurrence is prevented.

The cycle of incident, rehabilitation and reintegration to the workplace is not widely understood in the OHS field.  The “Recovery From Trauma: What Works” video illustrates the personal and psychological cost of an incident.  Through a case study it also shows the early signs of trauma, when a worker may “not be himself” – the clues to a possible bigger problem.  One case study, John, specifically includes the impact of his situation on his work performance.

In the early stages of trauma, around a week after an incident, the video advises that people avoid

  • Alcohol and drugs
  • Keeping overly busy
  • Involvement in stressful situations
  • Withdrawing
  • Stopping yourself doing things you enjoy
  • Taking risks

If the worker is out of sorts for longer than a week, professional assistance should be sought.

The video was broadcast in February 2009 so the information is current.

The program continues with issues of post-traumatic stress disorder with additional case studies including a policeman talking about his counseling and the therapy he undertook after a traumatic event.

RHEF does not try to do everything by itself and draws upon subject matter experts on trauma and recovery.  The video is a very professional production and RHEF should be supported in its initiatives.  Readers are encouraged to watch the videos online and, if you can, consider supporting RHEF financially so that these important resources can be made available to medical professionals throughout Australia.

Kevin Jones

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