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Disaster Response Committee
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Disaster Response Committee

The APA Disaster Response Network (DRN) is a group of approximately 2,500 licensed psychologists with training in disaster response who offer volunteer assistance to relief workers and survivors in the aftermath of disasters. APA has a historical agreement with the American Red Cross, dating to 2001. The APA commits to maintaining the DRN network, while the Red Cross maintains the infrastructure and organization to incorporate the volunteer contributions of DRN members. Training provided by the Red Cross to psychologist volunteers provides an overview of Red Cross operations and the functions of DMH volunteers on a disaster site. The training is not primarily clinical, as it is designed for independently licensed MH professionals. Each volunteer is required to complete a brief Introduction to Disaster Services Course and a one-day Foundations of Disaster Mental Health Course, also offered as a three hour webinar, and have a background check to receive Red Cross DMH credentials.

The RIPA DRN is building our capacity by recruiting psychologists to train with RI Red Cross, thereby allowing us entry into disaster sites both within our state and nationally. In addition, the committee is identifying roles for members who are unable to respond to disasters, for example, providing post-deployment support to Red Cross volunteers by telephone, participating in disaster preparedness and recovery activities, such as teaching courses on disaster mental health, participating in planning meetings with a variety of governmental and non-governmental agencies, and educating the public about reactions to trauma and steps people can take to relief distress.

For more information, contact Henry Lesieur, Ph.D., Psy.D.

Helpful Links:

What do Psychologists do at Disaster Sites?

Managing Traumatic Stress

Disasters and Terrorism