What Is Emotional First-Aid?

Defining Emotional First Aid

We start the journey by defining one of the most important concepts in crisis care, emotional first aid. You will learn how to respond after a crisis event and to help someone take the next steps to find hope and healing in the process.

  1. Aftermath of large scale event
    • Clean up Process
    • How Do You Cope
    • Prioritize the Thinking Process
    • Psychological Truths That Give You Hope for Tomorrow
      • Give them opportunities to talk without judgment
      • Support and provide a path back to hope

What is emotional first aid?  Have you ever taken a CPR course? Most people have. But if you ask how many people have actually performed CPR in an emergency situation, the number is very few. Now think about emotional first-aid. Can you imagine how many people that you could help by just having the tools needed to respond to those that are in crisis? What we’re trying to do is prevent a secondary crisis.  So the event takes place. Your child’s in a car accident.You go to the emergency room. There are people running all over there, trying to save the life of your child. But what happens next? You’re pushed to the side. So they’re doing the life-saving event. You spin out of control.  Wouldn’t it be great to have that person that walks alongside of you, comes in it, says, “Everything else is taken care of. Your other daughter’s been picked up from school, all’s good. I’m here to help you.” Providing that emotional first-aid prevents a secondary injury which can magnify the experience of your current crisis.

So emotional first-aid comes into play when you come into the aftermath of a catastrophic, large-scale event and walk alongside those people to help them. What do we look for? Where do you do with insurance? How do I cope? What’s the cleanup process? All of those things are overwhelming when you first walk in. But when you have someone that’s trained, and they walk alongside of you, they take notes, they prioritize, they keep you thinking in the right process.  That person is the one that’s going to be your support system. It’s going to help you stay balanced and focused, and be able to help you get the answers you need so that you can take care of your child that’s your primary concern. That’s emotional first-aid. When that walks alongside you to keep you balanced, to give you hope. That’s the whole idea. Coming up with psychological methods along with God’s Word that’ll give them hope for a better tomorrow. You see when we walk alongside people and we give them the opportunity to express their emotions in a safe place where we’re not judging, where we’re not coming up with things you should do, advising, but we’re just there… we call the ministry of presence. That is your safest, your most loving gift that you can give someone that is in crisis. You’re the one that’s there to support them and provide them with a path back to hope.


Living in a Broken World

We live in a broken world. That should be obvious. Things are hard. There’s financial struggles, there’s housing collapses, there’s floods, there’s fires, but there’s also the death. How do we cope with those things? Knowing what to do when people are stressed, when they are emotionally on edge, is an amazing gift. The Good Samaritan story from the Bible tells us that we’re to assess and look at those situations, to recognize those that need help. That’s what we’re doing here. It is the biggest gift that you can give someone. Acknowledging that they’re in pain, being there ready to listen, being open, and being available. And that doesn’t mean just physically being there. That means looking at them. Really truly, opening up your heart. Allow the Holy Spirit to come through and be their cushion, be their safe place. That is what we’re trying to do and that’s what teaching does for us.


Emergency Vs. Crisis

Let’s look at the difference between an emergency and a crisis.

An emergency is something that happens that needs immediate attention. So your kid’s broke his arm. That’s gonna cause a little bit of a disruption of your life. But it’s not a long-term event. The difference is, yes we have to take care of it immediately. We have to go. You had it X-rayed. There’s going to be a cast. There’s going to be some inconvenience. But it doesn’t disrupt every single moment of your life for right now. The difference is a crisis does. If someone dies, you’re looking at that as a long-term effect. That person now is no longer in your life. When that happens… How do I pay the taxes? How do I do grocery shopping? Whatever their tools and their tasks were, now those have to be taken up by someone different. So a crisis is a long-term impact on what life is going to be like where an emergency as a short-term situation that needs to be taken care of immediately but it’s not going to affect the rest of your life.

But how do we define the magnitude? Research tells us that when a catastrophic event takes place, a flood or fires, earthquakes. Those types of things that affect a large-scale amount of people is when a disaster is at its worst. You see when catastrophic events happen, there’s a very small percentage that are physically injured or that have died compared to the amount of emotional impact that it takes on people.

The other thing that makes an incident more impactful is when children are involved. If a child is killed in an incident. In a critical crisis incident, not only is their parents involved but also the firefighters that are trying to save them. The police department, the onlookers, the children that are in school with that child, the teacher, the soccer coach. Everyone is affected when a child’s involved. You’ll find that the services for children are significantly larger than for a middle-aged or even an older person. Why? Because we can all think back to ourselves, ‘What if it was my child?’ And you feel so bad for those people. So as a trained professional in crisis intervention, and knowing God’s promises, you walk alongside those parents. You walk alongside those teachers, those other children, to help them cope with what they’re doing and what they’re going through. How do you respond to that classroom? How do you respond to that soccer team? How are the other brothers and sisters doing? As someone who’s trained to go through that, which we’re going to explore, you can make a difference. You can help them understand that what they’re going through right now is normal and give them tools to cope with the next day.


Shelly's Story

In this video we will cover:

  1. My own story and how I learned about Crisis firsthand.

So how did I get here? Why did I become a chaplain? Why did I get involved in trauma care in the first place? For me, we have to travel back to Christmas of 2011.

We get a phone call in the middle of the night. It says, “Your sister’s been shot. Can you come to the house?”
My response is “Of course, yes”. Hanged up the phone, dash out, get to my parents’ house. But only my mom is there, dad’s not there. Where is he? What’s going on? “We don’t know,” that’s what she says. “We don’t know where the boys are,” my nephews. My dad’s gone to the police station. We’re waiting.

The police said to wait, so we’re waiting. We’re confused, we have no idea what’s going on. Phone calls start to come in, going, “Why are you there? Why aren’t you here? What’s going on?” We don’t understand, people are screaming at us on the phone wanting to know what kind of parent you are, what are you doing? So we just get in the car and we go to the police station.

I guess I should have looked back on what was going on. But I was in trauma, we were in the middle of a crisis. You can’t think, you don’t understand, you don’t know, life is spinning out of control.
Seems like hours have gone by and yet it’s only been minutes and sometimes I think something just happened and it happened hours ago.
We get to the station, we’re asking for help, we’re asking for support, we want to know what’s going on, no one’s around to help us and those that do come, they cry. They go “oh my gosh, we’re so sorry.” At this point we don’t even know what they’re sorry for. You see media was involved, it was all over social media and yet us, the family, the intimate family had no clue that my sister had been murdered. She had been brutally tortured, taken captive and murdered. We didn’t understand, we didn’t know, we were screaming, literally, for answers in the police station. “Somebody come talk to us, somebody tell us what’s going on.”

Finally someone came down and said “How can I help you?”
“How can you help us? You’ve told us to be here, you need to tell us what’s going on.”
“Oh, well, you know she’s dead, right?”

That was how we found out. There had to be a better way. I watched my family collapse literally on the floor. You know the stories of foaming at the mouth? They’re true, it’s real.
My nephew’s actually had been found, they forgot to tell us. They were in an interrogation room trying to figure out what they knew and what they didn’t know. They finally come running down the stairs. We had told the police, “We want to tell them ourselves that their mom’s dead.” They forgot. We were still wandering around saying “Help us, tell us what’s going on, can you tell us how to tell the boys? Can you tell us how to respond?”
He said “Well, we, we could find you some help.” “Make them be here, please. Give us somebody to talk to.” They didn’t, they couldn’t, it wasn’t available.

It took about 18 months for me to get through the trial, get through other things, help support my family. But, not feeling like I had the tools necessary to give them hope, to tell them what was going on. It’s bad enough that this took place, but the way people treated us, the way they responded to us…it’s not because they didn’t care, it’s because they didn’t know. They didn’t understand what we were going through.

They didn’t know the behaviors that we were exhibiting were normal in this horrific abnormal situation that we found ourselves in.

That’s why we need to be trained, we need to understand what emotional first aid is.
To be able to walk alongside someone, provide the support, to give them the hope that they can get through the next minute, the next hour, the next day.

So what do we do? Me being who I am…there’s gotta be a better way.
If there’s any good that can come out of this, if God really does answer those prayers, “Direct me, Lord, show me the way.”

So after seven years now I’ve become a chaplain, I’ve gotten trained. I have a tendency to go overboard and find out as much information as possible and realized there’s biblical truths and there’s psychological, true hard evidence truths, but they weren’t together. So, I brought them together, to provide hope, to know that God’s promises are real and that we can survive.
Yes, my sister was murdered in cold blood and tortured. My families forever changed, but not all families have to go through that.

We’re going to make a difference just by being trained to walk alongside someone and say, “You’re not going crazy. There is support. There is help. Let’s find a way.”


Introduction

Here at Seeking Hope, we have the CARES model. That’s what we use to go through all the steps to understand how we care for someone. Christ asked us to care for his children. But how do we do that? This model will help break down the steps and what we look at to care for those in crisis.

You’re gonna find a download here on this page that will give you the opportunity to review it. Hold on to a nice quick reference, so that it helps you remember how to go through the process when you’re caring for someone in need. So let’s take a look at your downloaded card.

The ‘C’ stands for confused, and what we want to get to is connecting. Let’s see, there’s two columns there. The client or the person that’s in crisis is in a confused state whether emotionally, physically, their environment. It’s all confusing. You’re there to help connect the dots for them. Get them to a safe place. Help them respond and give them the support that they need. That’s the CARES model ‘C’.

Let’s take a look at the letter ‘A’ in the CARES model. It’s anxious and what we want to do is assess. So your client, the person in crisis is anxious. They are faced with an anxiety level that’s off the charts. They’re in unknown surroundings and things are running wild around them.

We’re there to assess not only them, but the situation and the environment that we find them in. By assessing these things we can move forward, create a plan, and help them to know that there’s going to be balance and that they can find hope moving forward. That’s the ‘A’ in the CARES model.

The ‘R’ in the CARES model. For our client, it’s unrealistic, for us it’s reassuring. Our client is facing some unrealized and unrealistic expectations. They want a dead person to come back to life. They want this to be different. They want a job that disappeared to show up again.

Their expectations are not realistic at all. How do we help find them? By reassuring that they have an opportunity to find balance in the circumstance that they find themselves in. It’s not easy, but by reminding them that there is hope, there is a tomorrow, and how to get there, we’ll make it happen. Our presence alone creates an environment of strength, stability, and balance. That’s what reassuring does. That’s our ‘R’ in the CARES model.

The ‘E’ in our CARES model is disengaged and enduring. When a client is disengaged it’s like just checking out. They don’t want to be a part of this process. They don’t want this to happen. That’s where you hear the,  “Just pinch me and I’ll wake up. This was just a dream.” They don’t want to be a part of answering questions, even when they have to. As we help them to endure, it gives them hope, finds their psychological balance that they can move forward, they can make decisions. We give them a time pace, so they don’t feel rushed. But show them that they can endure this horrible tragedy and still come out tomorrow. That’s our ‘E’ in CARES model.

The final in CARES is the ‘S’. For the client it’s selfish, but for us it’s spiritual. A client who is being selfish doesn’t even realize it.  But their world right now is all about them, what has happened to them, what has happened to their immediate family, or the situation they find themselves in. It’s how it’s affecting them. They don’t mean to be selfish, but we come along as the spiritual guide. We bring God’s hope, his promise and give them the sense that they can move forward. That’s the ‘S’ in CARES.

Be sure to download the CARES card PDF as your quick reference guide when you’re helping someone in need.


Introduction

cares crisis training

Here at Seeking Hope, we have the CARES model. That’s what we use to go through all the steps to understand how we care for someone. Christ asked us to care for his children. But how do we do that? This model will help break down the steps and what we look at to care for those in crisis.

You’re gonna find a download here on this page that will give you the opportunity to review it. Hold on to a nice quick reference, so that it helps you remember how to go through the process when you’re caring for someone in need. So let’s take a look at your downloaded card.

The ‘C’ stands for confused, and what we want to get to is connecting. Let’s see, there’s two columns there. The client or the person that’s in crisis is in a confused state whether emotionally, physically, their environment. It’s all confusing. You’re there to help connect the dots for them. Get them to a safe place. Help them respond and give them the support that they need. That’s the CARES model ‘C’.

Let’s take a look at the letter ‘A’ in the CARES model. It’s anxious and what we want to do is assess. So your client, the person in crisis is anxious. They are faced with an anxiety level that’s off the charts. They’re in unknown surroundings and things are running wild around them.

We’re there to assess not only them, but the situation and the environment that we find them in. By assessing these things we can move forward, create a plan, and help them to know that there’s going to be balance and that they can find hope moving forward. That’s the ‘A’ in the CARES model.

The ‘R’ in the CARES model. For our client, it’s unrealistic, for us it’s reassuring. Our client is facing some unrealized and unrealistic expectations. They want a dead person to come back to life. They want this to be different. They want a job that disappeared to show up again.

Their expectations are not realistic at all. How do we help find them? By reassuring that they have an opportunity to find balance in the circumstance that they find themselves in. It’s not easy, but by reminding them that there is hope, there is a tomorrow, and how to get there, we’ll make it happen. Our presence alone creates an environment of strength, stability, and balance. That’s what reassuring does. That’s our ‘R’ in the CARES model.

The ‘E’ in our CARES model is disengaged and enduring. When a client is disengaged it’s like just checking out. They don’t want to be a part of this process. They don’t want this to happen. That’s where you hear the,  “Just pinch me and I’ll wake up. This was just a dream.” They don’t want to be a part of answering questions, even when they have to. As we help them to endure, it gives them hope, finds their psychological balance that they can move forward, they can make decisions. We give them a time pace, so they don’t feel rushed. But show them that they can endure this horrible tragedy and still come out tomorrow. That’s our ‘E’ in CARES model.

The final in CARES is the ‘S’. For the client it’s scared, but for us it’s spiritual. A client is scared after the crisis has occurred.  But their world is shaken right now, after what has happened to them, what has happened to their immediate family, or the situation they find themselves in. It’s how it’s affecting them. They don’t want to be scared, but we come along as the spiritual guide. We bring God’s hope, his promise and give them the sense that they can move forward. That’s the ‘S’ in CARES.

Be sure to download the CARES card PDF as your quick reference guide when you’re helping someone in need.


Shelly's Answer

So is this your calling? Is God calling you? I go back to Isaiah 6:8 when God asks, “Who shall I send?” That’s what I heard. Loud and clear. Who should I send to these people in crisis? How are we going to help them? And I read down farther and it says, “Send me Lord. Send me.” That’s what I heard. I couldn’t ignore it. You know after my situation, and in the murder and the pain that I went through, and more importantly what my family was going through, I seemed to be able to come out on the other side. But my family still struggled. Why? Because there was no one there in the immediate aftermath to help us. To tell us we were behaving normally, to help give us answers. I needed information. And if I could do that and prevent some other family from being in that position, then I had to do it. I heard God calling. And I answered, “Yes, Lord. Send me.” So I got trained. And now I’m a chaplain. And now I’m here with you, helping to give the information so that no other family has to go through the pain and suffering that we did. Now that you’ve accepted the calling, it’s time to really get to work. I’d like to give you a homework assignment. Take a look at the parable, the Good Samaritan from the Book of Luke. As you go through that make some notes, see how the CARES program really fits. You’re going to see that connecting. You’re going to see the assess, the reassurance, and the spiritual side of what God’s called you to do. You’ll enjoy it. You’ll see the magnification of what this calling is on your life. The examples are there, we just need to follow them. This is our calling. I’m glad you’re here. The training will help. You can step in now and help those in crisis prevent a secondary injury. You’re providing hope for a better tomorrow.


After The Crisis

So what happens following a crisis? The crisis is never over, it just changes us. But what happens after the big day? The funeral, or the notification of a death, the understanding that I don’t have a job anymore. What happens in those following days? That’s when it gets really rough. If you ask anyone who’s been through a funeral…after the funeral is over, everybody goes home, whether they’re flying, driving- even friends. It’s like the event, the thing, whatever it happens to be, it’s done. But it’s never done for the person that’s in the middle of that center of the crisis. It’s hard. So what do we do to help them in the days, the weeks, the months and even the year to come? That’s what’s most important for us to take a look at. Because that’s where that lasting impact is going to happen.

So what can we do to help them? The real thing is to continue to talk to them. Continue to use that person’s name. Continue to say, “Yes, you had a long career at that place, that employment,” whatever it happens to be. They had a part of that life. It didn’t just go away. You can’t just erase it. Acknowledge it. It was there. That person was a part of their life. Someone could have been married for sixty years. That sixty years doesn’t get wiped away just because they died. And a lot of people are afraid to talk about the death, about the loss of job, about a diagnosis. When in fact, that’s the reality.

What do we do? Use the person’s name. Tell them they had a long career. They had a lot of great, positive things that came out of that. Let them speak. We are to be silent and listen. But, use the person’s name. Use the name of the employment. Talk about the great things that happened. Allow them to continue their story. That will help the most.

Let me tell you about this single mom. She actually lost her husband to a long term illness. She didn’t think anything about it, but the trash kept getting emptied. And that was to be expected. Every time they’d take the trash out from the house and put it in the bin on the side of the yard, there was room. There was always space. She didn’t think much about it. But as the months went on and reality starts to set in and we’re trying to find that space, and coming up with our new normal in this very abnormal situation. Trying to find life again, she finally realized, “What’s going on with my trash cans. I don’t understand.”

So one day she had to actually go and find out what day her trash pick-up was. She hadn’t taken the trash cans to the curb in over three months. So, she looked at her bill, found out it was Tuesday. You see, it was her husband’s job. That’s what he did. He took the trash to the curb. She went out and looked out of her front window on Tuesday. She saw her neighbor was putting out his trash cans. Very similar to what everyone was doing that morning. But then she sees him cross the street. He goes to the side of the yard, takes her trash cans, puts them out at the curb. He goes, gets in his truck and goes to work. She had no idea. She goes, “That must be how my trash cans are getting emptied, but I’ve never seen them out at the curb.” So again that afternoon, he got home from work. She went out and was looking out her front window again. Sure enough, he got out of this truck, came across the street, put her trash cans back on the side of her house. Went back, put his trash cans away and went right back into his house.

He’d been doing this for three months and she had no clue. That is giving. That’s helping your neighbor. That’s doing the extra little bit. Realizing that three months had gone by but what a big difference that made for this mom and her sons.

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Helpful Phrases

One of the things we ask people is, what’s stuck with them? What just can’t
they shake about the incident? A lot of times we’ll get firefighters that… they’ve been to a drowning, to remove small child. And they really can’t get over it. It’s three or four days and they’re going, “Why is that one sticking with me?” Just kind of ask them, “What did they think? Why?” Well you know, it comes to find out, they’ve got a niece the same age as the drowning victim they tried to save. Makes sense once we start talking about it. So just by asking, “What’s stuck with you so much?” and let them go on, again practicing that silence. Asking them a little bit more, “How old is your niece? What’s going on with her? What’s her favorite toy it?” It allows them to talk, allows them to get the understanding of what they’re thinking and get it out. He remembered the pink bathing suit and that’s what triggered the memory for him, so asking someone, “Is there something you just can’t shake about this incident?” or “Something that bothers you the most above everything else?” Sometimes it’s the silliest little things.

We had a client that was on vacation and actually the cabin that they were staying in caught fire. It was Christmas time. She ran out with her robe and her slippers on and the only thing she remembered to grab from the cabin was a can of beans. To this day, she still says, “Why on Earth would I grab a can of beans?” She said, “I can’t believe it. A can of beans? That’s what I’m gonna walk out of the cabin with? We just opened all these presents. I got a designer bag for Christmas from my husband and I leave with a can of beans?” I looked at her and said, “Yeah, where were the kids?” “Well they were in front of me. I was shooing them up front.” I said, “That was your priority. You’re behaving very normally in that abnormal situation. The cabin was on fire, your priority was in front of you. Your children. You thought, “Well what else can I do?” and you just grabbed the closest thing to you. She goes, “That was it! That was it!” She says, “But it still sticks with me. A can of beans, Shelly. Really? I said, “Your priorities were right. You’re behaving normally in that situation. You can’t expect more out of yourself. You got your children out. They were in front of you. That was your concern. You did good.”

The phrases that we’re using are open-ended questions. It gives them the opportunity to talk but we have to remember to let them set the pace. They may take long pauses, they may give us different insights that we can ask them, “I don’t understand quite that. Can you explain that a little more in detail for me?” It gives them the opportunity to speak longer on something that’s probably causing them more concern than they even realize.

It’s very common to hear someone say, “I’ll never be the same again.” It’s true. They won’t. Something definitely has happened that’s gonna change their life forever. Acknowledge it. Tell them, “You’re right. It’s always gonna be different from here on out, but that doesn’t mean it has to be bad.” You’re there to help find a new normal for them. It’s scary. It’s not what they envision. It’s not what they wanted. It’s frustrating.They’re angry but that’s okay-that’s all normal. Help them to understand that by listening, acknowledging without judgment. The other thing that we can do is help them to see how far they’ve come. Let’s say you’re two or three days out, “Hey you got makeup on today. You’re looking real good.” Those little things help. Did they eat today? Acknowledge it. Are they drinking water? “Let’s go for a walk.” Any of those things are progress. The more we can tell them what they’ve done, the more they’ll see their progress and know that they have found hope. That they are actually moving forward. Sometimes we need to be reminded of the progress we’ve made, particularly in the crisis event. We can’t get over it at that time, but when we’re shown and demonstrated and acknowledged that we are making progress, we start moving actually faster.


God's Calling

So you may be asking yourself at this point, why am I doing this? It’s because it’s your nature. It’s you’re calling. God called me to take care of others. As I look back into my life, I realize I was kind of always that person.The one that people would automatically open up and talk to. They would tell you stories that you’re thinking, why are you telling me this? But you’re that person. You’ve got that ability. You’ve got that loving, that healing, that nature about you. God created you that way. That’s why I do what I do. And I’m sure that’s why you’re listening, here now. Being a giver, being a healer- that’s what this is about. Your spiritual nature comes out and we thank God for that.

When you’re working with someone in crisis, they’re being selfish. They actually can’t help it. Their entire world is falling apart. But you’re there. You’re bringing a spiritual sense to the entire situation. It’s your calling. You’re that person. You may be the fix-it in your family, perhaps the rock. It happens to a lot of us. But that’s why you’re here. You can reach out, you’re empathetic. You know what’s going on. You can help. It’s that spiritual side of you that’s countering the selfishness that’s going on right now. Remember they’re not doing it on purpose. They don’t mean to be, they’re hurting. But your spiritual part comes across and gives them hope.