Psychosocial first aid by volunteers

Red Cross Relief Service volunteers are often confronted with people who find themselves in a difficult situation or have recently experienced a traumatic event. These experiences can be very intense and leave a powerful impression on all concerned.

To enable our volunteers to offer initial psychosocial support, we have for some years provided practical training in psychosocial first aid called ‘Schokdemper’ (literally ‘shock absorber’). In 2012, we revised this training based on new insights into psychosocial support. The new training, which is aimed specifically at Relief Service volunteers, focuses primarily on promoting self-reliance and resilience among victims. Contact between Relief Service volunteers and victims is usually quite brief and geared mainly to the provision of medical care. We therefore teach our volunteers to do as much as they can to boost victims’ morale and so help them to move forward independently.

The course also works on the strengths and resilience of volunteers themselves to help them cope with traumatic events. In this way we aim to make our own volunteers more self-reliant.

Related items:

Self-reliance advice for the public
Coaching and informing victims