Disaster Human Services

Disaster Human Services & Emergency Operations

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services partners with the Department of Health’s Office of Public Health Preparedness to strengthen Pennsylvania’s focus on emergency behavioral health at the state, county and local levels. Together these agencies conduct training, support and fund initiatives and established the Crisis Counseling Program.

Training

The training program was established to assist communities in the development of emergency behavioral health plans and train staff in Psychological First Aid and Disaster Crisis Outreach and Referral Teams.

Student Disaster Training Registration

DTR Instructor Login

Psychological First Aid

  • Evidence-informed modular approach to help children, adolescents, adults and families in the immediate aftermath of disaster, terrorism and other crisis events
  • Designed to reduce the initial distress caused by traumatic events and to foster short- and long-term adaptive functioning and coping
  • Based on the understanding that disaster survivors and others affected by such events will experience a broad range of early reactions (physical, psychological, behavioral, and spiritual). Some of these reactions will cause enough distress to interfere with adaptive coping, and recovery may be facilitated by support from compassionate and caring disaster responders
  • Continuing education credits are currently available for the following disciplines: Emergency Medical Services certification including EMT and First Responder, Nursing and Social Work

Disaster Crisis Outreach and Referral Team

  • One day training based on SAMHSA and FEMA best practices
  • Topics covered include:
    • Emphasis on crisis counseling in Disaster Recovery Centers
    • Crisis counseling program concepts
    • The psychosocial needs of isolated/quarantined individuals and the impact of pandemic influenza
    • Review of the concepts of National Incident Management System
    • Potential drug and alcohol abuse issues after a disaster
    • Children’s needs following a disaster
    • Personal and community resiliency
    • The National Biodefense Science Board recommendations to the Department of Health and Human Services
  • In addition, the psychological impact of the following events is discussed:
    • Mass casualties/mass fatalities
    • Economic crisis
    • Pandemic
  • If interested in joining a disaster team in your county please contact your county Mental Health Office

Initiative Support and Funding

Pennsylvania State Police Member Assistance Program
The Office of the Medical Director also supports programs like the Pennsylvania State Police’s Member Assistance Program. This program offers PA State Police personnel and their families Peer Contacts to help through a wide range of personal and work-related issues. Peer contacts are not professional counselors, but rather everyday state police personnel who have received specialized training to help you manage and maintain good mental and emotional health.

PA CARES
Pennsylvania Americans showing Compassion, Assistance and Reaching out with Empathy for Service Members
As military personnel return home to Pennsylvania from their duties in the U.S. Global War on Terror and other duties, these individuals and their family members may experience a variety of readjustment challenges. In response to this, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Veterans Affairs, have joined with various state and local agencies to form a voluntary advisory and action task force to assist these veterans and their families with a successful reintegration back to their families and communities.

Resources:

Department of Health Office of Public Health Preparedness
DisasterAgency.gov
Federal Emergency Management Agency
Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency
Pennsylvania Recovery and Resiliency
ReadyPA | Emergency Planning for Those with Special Needs
SAMHSA