Children in the ambulance: how do paramedics go about psychosocial care?

“The beer they gave Casper in the ambulance, calmed him down” she says.

The presenter is recounting the story of a boy who broke his leg in a swimming pool accident.

What? Is alcohol the latest innovation in professional care for children?

It keeps the audience in suspense for a while. Until it turns out presenter meant to say (teddy) ‘bear’, not ‘beer’. That presenter was me by the way 🙂 we had a good laugh about it.

Ambulance staff are often the first at the scene when a child is seriously injured. What do they know about children’s stress reactions? Have they had any training in psychological first aid? And how confident are they about providing it? Continue reading

Trusted advice for children, families and professionals after a major disaster or attack

Newtown tragedy

I wrote this blogpost for those involved in the tragedy in Newtown. A few days ago, it was sadly directly relevant again, for the survivors of the attacks in Boston. And today (18/4), it goes for the survivors in Texas. Please find resources below and let me know if you have any questions.

An extended version of this blogpost has been published on the Huffington Post.

With the storm of media attention for the terrible events and the enormous social media response, it may be difficult to tell what is evidence-informed advice and which are well-intended-but-ungrounded tips.

Therefore, below is a quick and limited overview of links that can be trusted: Continue reading

Psychological support after the bus crash in Switzerland

Yesterday was a day of national mourning in Belgium because of a tragic bus accident in Switzerland on Tuesday night. A bus with primary school children and their teachers, returning from a ski trip, had crashed into a tunnel wall near Sion. It caused the loss of 22 children and six adults. All other occupants (24 children) were injured.

It feels needless to say that this accident has a dramatic impact on the Belgian community, including the survivors, their families, their classmates, teachers, neighbors, involved professionals, and fellow citizens. The contrast between the children’s cheerful experiences during a week of skiing and the sudden devastation of lives couldn’t be more pronounced.

Erik de Soir, a Belgian crisis psychologist, provided support to the parents and teachers of the children from the moment the news reached one of the two schools involved. In an interview on the Dutch television on Thursday, he told about his experiences and the strategies for psychological support in the direct aftermath of mass trauma, in line with the current scientific evidence. I was very impressed with the genuine way he described his work and his views. Continue reading