• When Disaster Strikes

    Be Prepared

    Emergency Preparedness

  • Emergency Preparedness

    Suggested Follow-up to the Events of September 11, 2001

    Consider issuing a statement of concern to the employees of the company where you work. Here is an example:

    To: All Employees

    From: Dr. ACOEM and other Executives

    The Board of Director, Administration, and Medical Department at ABC Company have discussed the tragedy of September 11 that has shocked the world. We express our deep concern for the victims, their families, and the many health care and other workers who directly or indirectly participated in this horrific event. We offer our emotional support to all company employees and their families who have also been affected, and urge that our resources are available to help manage the difficulties at this time.


    • Be vigilant to coworker/employee stress responses. With continued media attention, and anticipated military intervention, a large number of people will be affected due to involvement with family and friends in this disaster. Furthermore, as “negative coping” (escape from anxiety via substance abuse, aggression, etc.) can also be expected among some people, it is advised that direct, proactive activities be initiated.

    • Be sure you and your occupational medical colleagues are familiar with common signals of stress (seeStress Information Sheetbelow).

    • Consider bringing together supervisors to discuss common signals and be clear about how to refer an employee for counseling (seeHow to Approach a Personbelow).
    • Consider being proactive to all workers. In cases of disaster, more information about expected reactions and available resources is preferred over ignoring or attributing responses to temporary stress. Data suggest 28-30% of people who have family connections to disasters experience disabling traumatic reactions. People in health care professions also have a strong emotional connection when they feel helpless to do something. Distributing the Stress Information Sheet or arranging for an information program conducted by a trained professional with experience in disaster follow-up (seeResources) should be considered.
    • Consider a review of your company’s system of medical/security/disaster intervention and preparation. The table that follows is one way to categorize this. If you or your coworkers do not feel competent to manage these issues in-house, seek qualified assistance from others who have demonstrated competencies.

    How to Approach a Person in Distress

    • If you believe a coworker is experiencing stress symptoms, please follow this procedure:

    • Ask to speak to the person privately. Do not “point out” symptoms to a person who may be in pain.

    • Ask, “Are you having some difficulties? Do you want to talk about it?” Sharing feelings and encouraging discussion help to establish the normalcy of the responses experienced. Be a good listener, but do not offer unqualified therapy.

    • If you believe the person is having an especially difficult time and may need to discuss feelings with a professional, suggest he or she contact _______________. You may wish to follow-up later to see if the person took your advice.

    • If you believe the person is in immediate need of care, you can contact ______________ and describe your concerns.
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