AUSTIN'S LINKAGE OF EMERGENCY RESPONSE
Like individuals, whole communities suffer trauma in the aftermath
of disasters of particularly gruesome crimes. The community may
immediately experience a sort of paralysis, followed later by
a wide range of debilitating emotions.
The caregivers in the community may themselves be immobilized
with shock. For these reasons, victims, survivors, families and
neighborhoods need trained Crisis Interveners to mobilize a mental
health response to the distress within the community and to provide
debriefing to rescue workers, including Fire, Police, EMS, Red
Cross, and Mental Health personnel.
While survivors will indeed survive, the catastrophe will leave
a residual stress in its victims; all are at risk of having old
horrors triggered by new crises, and many are at risk of experiencing
long-term reactions. Immediate, on the scene psychological consultations
have a great potential to substantially reduce or eliminate long-term
psychological and physical symptoms.
This approach has been endorsed by the disaster relief sections
of the National Institute of
Mental Health. Additionally, it has been recommended by the
National Organization for Victim
Assistance that every community disaster plan incoporate trianed
Crisis Interveners who hlep conduct debriefings and other mental
health services after large and small disasters.
In 1989, the Victim
Services Division of the Austin Police Department developed
a Mental Health Plan tha was implemented as part of the City Emergency
Operations Plan for the Austin/Travis county area. In January
of 1993 te plan was expanded to include the city and county wide
respoonse through ALERT Austin/Travis County Linking of Emergency