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Psychological First Aid: Field Operations Guide

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Psychological First Aid

Disaster Responders

Developed jointly with the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, PFA is an evidence-informed modular approach for assisting people in the immediate aftermath of disaster and terrorism: to reduce initial distress, and to foster short- and long-term adaptive functioning.

It is for use by first responders, incident command systems, primary and emergency health care providers, school crisis response teams, faith-based organizations, disaster relief organizations, Community Emergency Response Teams, Medical Reserve Corps, and the Citizens Corps in diverse settings.

Helpful resources

The Psychological First Aid Manual contents

Chapter / Topic Title of Chapters and Topics
PFA Manual complete with Appendices (PDF 60MB)
PFA Manual without Appendices (PDF 1.6MB)
Chapter 1 Introduction and Overview
Chapter 2 Preparing to Deliver Psychological First Aid
Chapter 3 Core Actions
- Topic 1 Contact and Engagement
- Topic 2 Safety and Comfort
- Topic 3 Stabilization
- Topic 4 Information Gathering: Current Needs and Concerns
- Topic 5 Practical Assistance
- Topic 6 Connection with Social Supports
- Topic 7 Information on Coping
- Topic 8 Linkage with Collaborative Services
Appendices (5) for Psychological First Aid Manual
1 Overview of PFA (PDF 379k)
2 Service Delivery Sites and Settings (PDF 381k)
3 Psychological First Aid: Provider Care (PDF 900k)
4 Provider Worksheets (PDF 491k)
5 Handouts for Survivors (PDF 7.9MB) Topics included in this Appendix:
5 A Connecting with Others: Seeking Social Support (PDF for adults and adolescents)
5 B Connecting with Others: Giving Social Support (PDF for adults and adolescents)
5 C When Terrible Things Happen (PDF for adults and adolescents)
5 D Parent Tips for Helping Infants and Toddlers (PDF for parents/caregivers)
5 E Parent Tips for Helping Preschool-Age Children (PDF for parents/caregivers)
5 F Parent Tips for Helping School-Age Children (PDF for parents/caregivers)
5 G Parent Tips for Helping Adolescents (PDF for parents/caregivers)
5 H Tips for Adults (PDF for adult survivors)
5 I Basic Relaxation Techniques (PDF for adults, adolescents and children)
5 J Alcohol, Medication, and Drug Use After Disaster (PDF for adults and adolescents)

NOTE: PFA is adaptations are available for specific audiences (schools, religious leaders, homeless) and translated into other languages on the National Child Traumatic Stress Network website.Link will take you outside the VA website. VA is not responsible for the content of the linked site.

Training on PFA

PFA was created with the Terrorism Disaster Branch of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network as well as others involved in disaster response. Production of this information was supported by SAMHSA.

Hardcopies of the PFA Field Operations Guide can be purchased at will take you outside the VA website. VA is not responsible for the content of the linked site. for around $10 each.

NOTE: A current version of Adobe Acrobat ReaderLink will take you outside the VA website. VA is not responsible for the content of the linked site. is needed to access PDFs on this site.

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