Psychosocial Emergency Preparedness and Response
During an emergency or disaster, the Canadian public looks to their leaders or government for protection and assistance. We expect our elected leaders to be ready to deal with the possible risks from:
- natural events and disasters such as outbreaks of disease, floods, earthquakes, fires and tornadoes;
- emergencies such as transportation accidents, large chemical spills, nuclear incidents, power outages and terrorist threats.
All levels of government in Canada help to protect the health of Canadians from these threats as part of their efforts to promote health and prevent disease. For more information, please visit the Emergencies and Disasters section.
For infomation about how to set up an effective emergency response plan for your organization or if you have questions relating to EAS' emergency response capacity in the case of emergency, please contact EAS' marketing line at 1-888-366-8213, fax: 613-948-8531 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Role of Employee Assistance Services
In the context of the Government of Canada's Public Security and Anti-Terrorist Response, Health Canada has established a national psycho-social responder team (an extension of Health Canada's national network of Employee Assistance Services counsellors) to tend to the needs of federal employees and responders exposed to traumatic stress due to an emergency or a disaster.
Prior to an event and upon request, the national Psycho-Social Emergency Responder Team (PSERT) can provide pre-event/ resiliency building training for employees and/or managers to prepare them on how to mitigate the risk of longer-term psycho-social impacts while responding to a traumatic event.
During a traumatic event, a team of mental health professionals of more than 20 experienced and trained PSERT team responders supported by 100 trauma counsellors and over 500 Employee Assistance Program (EAP) counsellors are available to deliver psycho-social intervention (support, guidance, triage) to federal employees involved in the response to an event. Based on their assessment of the situation, these professionals will use the appropriate clinical approach for the population's needs, i.e., Critical Incident Stress Management, Psychological First Aid, or any other appropriate intervention. The intervention can either take place in a group setting or one-on-one.
Upon request, the team can also serve as surge capacityFootnote * for provincial and municipal authorities in providing advice, information and support to them and their employees. When and where required, follow up and referrals to additional psycho-social services are offered to employees to allow them to effectively manage the psycho-social effect of the event.
EAS has developed resources for Public Service employees and managers in general:
- Preparing for and Responding to Workplace Trauma: A Manager's Handbook
- Preparing for and Responding to Workplace Trauma: A Manager's eGuide
To obtain a paper copy of the document, Preparing for and Responding to Workplace Trauma: a Manager's Handbook, please contact Trauma@hc-sc.gc.ca.
EAS has developed resources for Federal Emergency Responders:
- Preparing for and Responding to Threatening / Stressful Events: A Self-help Guide for Employees
- Preparing for the Stress of Disasters and Mass Emergencies - Federal Emergency Responders: Employees Action to Reduce and Manage Stress
- Preparing for the Stress of Disasters and Mass Emergencies - Federal Emergency Responders: Organizationnal Actions to Reduce and Manage Stress and Support Employees
You will also find resources dealing specifically with Pandemic Influenza:
- Pandemic Influenza: Psychosocial Care Planning
- Pandemic Influenza: Fact Sheet and Care Plan
Performance Track Record
EAS has been involved in helping organizations effectively cope in a wide variety of critical incidents including:
- Swissair Airliner Crash Disaster, Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia (1998)
- OC Transpo multiple shooting tragedy, Ottawa, Ontario (1999)
- Whitney Pier Community Services, Sydney, Nova Scotia Tar Ponds (2001-02)
- Kananaskis G8 Pre-Incident Training and on-site services, Calgary, Alberta (2002)
- Interventions for various federal clients: Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT), Health Canada, Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), Parks Canada, etc.
- Sommet de la francophonie, Quebec City (2008)
- Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, Vancouver, BC (2010)
- G8 Summit, Muskoka,Ontario (summer 2010)
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