National Preparedness Month

headshot of Dr. FreemanDid you know that September is National Preparedness Month? In 2004, September was declared National Preparedness Month to encourage Americans to prepare for emergencies in their homes, businesses, schools, and communities. September was chosen because September is the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season and is historically linked to the September 11th attacks in 2001. 

About the Disaster Response Committee: The IPA Disaster Response Committee was created in January 2022 to increase involvement by Iowa psychologists in disaster-related mental health issues. Initial committee efforts included establishing the committee, identifying goals and scope, and establishing partnerships with local disaster-response organizations as well as relevant IPA committees. Specifically, providing Iowa psychologists with training and education in disaster mental health is a key initiative of the committee. Over the past nine months, we have provided resources to members following the Winterset tornado, the Ames Cornerstone Church shooting, and the Uvalde shooting. To be more prepared for future events, the DRC compiled and published a comprehensive resource list covering several types of disasters. 

Are you prepared for when the next disaster strikes? Psychologists can better support clients affected by disaster by obtaining training in Psychological First Aid (PFA). PFA is an initial disaster response intervention with the goal of promoting safety, stabilizing survivors of disasters, and connecting individuals to resources. PFA is delivered to affected individuals by mental health professionals and other first responders. The purpose of PFA is to assess the immediate concerns and needs of an individual in the aftermath of a disaster but does not include providing on-site therapy. Click here to learn more about Psychological First Aid from APA's website. 

Several free trainings on Psychological First Aid are available:

  1. Free, one-hour webinar on Psychological First Aid (PFA) facilitated by Dr. Jerry Walker of the Nebraska Psychological Association. Click here to view.

  2. Free, five-hour Psychological First Aid Training offered by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. Psychological First Aid (PFA) Online is 5-hour interactive online course that helps participants learn the core actions of PFA and describes ways to apply them in different post-disaster scenarios and with different survivor needs. 

  3. Psychological First Aid for Schools (PFA-S). This webinar offers information on how PFA-S helps to reduce the distress that school communities can experience after a disaster or violent event. 

  4. Click here to access more disaster resources for providers.

Are you interested in getting more involved in disaster mental health? There is currently a great need for disaster mental health volunteers in Iowa. Specifically, the Iowa/Nebraska Red Cross Disaster Mental Health Team has only 10 licensed mental health volunteers. We have included two ways you can get involved with response below:

  • American Red Cross

    • Click here to take the free, introductory, 30-minute course on Disaster Mental Health.

    • Click here for more information from the Red Cross on disaster mental health.

    • Feel free to reach out to Dr. Ashley Freeman ([email protected]) with any questions regarding volunteering for the American Red Cross.

  • Region 7 Disaster Health Response Ecosystem (R7DHRE)

    • Disaster Behavioral Health (DBH) responders support crisis response or recovery operations in Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and/or Missouri.

    • DBH responders are free to decline a support request at any time.

    • Costs of DBH deployment are fully reimbursed through EMAC in declared local, state, and federal emergencies.

    • Please direct any questions to Dr. Jerry Walker at [email protected].

    • Click here to sign up to be a regional DBH responder here.

Please contact Ashley Freeman, chair of the Disaster Response Committee, at [email protected] with any questions or to get involved with disaster response.


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