Given the likelihood of an increased volume of natural disasters, technological catastrophes, pandemics, and terrorist events it is time to reconsider our existing first aid training model. At present, the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association, routinely offer first aid training to first responders as well as to the general public. However, this approach is no longer enough. A key challenge is the small number of people who are trained to provide both medical and psychological intervention. We would be well served by using an effective training model use in public schools by local fire departments.A first aid training program should be incorporated into upper middle school curriculum with yearly recertification required. The proposed model should not be solely limited to medical first aid, but should also include training in psychological and mental health first aid. A basic premise of first aid is that appropriate, early intervention can mitigate functional impairment and reduce the potential for more serious and enduring health problems that require formal treatment. A comprehensive first aid program is critical as most natural and human-caused disasters result in a high incidence of psychological and not physical casualties. Just as medical first aid may save lives or offset more serious medical complications, psychological first aid has the potential to mitigate serious mental health consequences and build resilience. Moreover, delivery of psychological first aid in tandem with medical intervention would not only be feasible but highly desirable.
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