Imagine there has been a serious accident at your workplace and someone has been severely injured. Luckily your staff had the appropriate first aid at work qualifications and they dealt with the situation in the best way that they possibly can.
Perhaps the victim was left with serious injuries or maybe they even perished as a result of the accident, despite of the efforts of the first aiders on your staff. In a situation such as this, the incident is not over yet and there are a number of important steps to take to ensure that your staff members are supported in this traumatic time.
When your first aid team has responded to a traumatic emergency situation, they will be likely in need of psychological aftercare to process the emotional and mental responses to the trauma. Exposure to events such as a sudden staff death or a serious accident can affect your workers very deeply.
Your staff members who were involved in responding to the emergency situation might experience shock, shakiness, anger, flashbacks, lack of sleep or appetite or fatigue. They will be struggling to make sense of what has happened and they will be constantly recounting the event in their own mind. Most of the worst symptoms will disappear and many of your staff members will return to normal after the first month. However, approximately 30% of your staff will have symptoms for longer and might need professional counselling to help them move past the trauma. Approximately 1-2% of the population has a risk of developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after administrating first aid at work in a very traumatic situation.
What You Can Do to Help?
What is the best thing that you can do for your employees to help them through their process of dealing with the accident? First of all, rather than getting everyone together for a meeting and treating all participants the same, you can offer low profile individual counselling for each member of your staff. Let your staff members know that if they need to seek further help and are feeling distressed, the option is there for them. Reassure them that they will not be judged for they need to seek counselling and psychological support. Let them know that the feelings they are experiencing are natural reactions to such an event.
Many people think it is best to send their staff home so that they can “relax for a few days and get over it”. However, many counsellors agree and it is much better for people to be with their work team and to get on with their daily routine as soon as possible. Putting someone on sick leave can actually encourage an “ill” or “victim” identity and make the person wallow in their emotions.
Of course, if you have a multi-cultural workplace it is important to always keep cultural differences in mind which might affect the way that staff members deal with a trauma, such as different attitudes toward death.
With these tips, you will be better able to care for your staff after a traumatic first aid at work situation.