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A good leader cares for their volunteers just like a good captain cares for their crew.  It is both poor leadership as well as short-sighted to do otherwise.  Using pre and post-deployment assessment techniques, plus providing Team Members with the tools to cope with the effects and after-effects of trauma they may experience or have experienced due to their disaster service, is an essential duty of the leader.

Providing care and support in the immediate aftermath of a disaster can be an enriching professional and personal experience. However, it can also be physically and emotionally exhausting.  It cannot be denied that working at disaster sites is a stressful experience. Sometimes, people volunteer without thoroughly considering whether or not engaging in disaster relief work is appropriate for them at the time. This is why we ask our Team Members to complete the Pre-Deployment Questionnaire before deploying.

The questionnaire is self-administered via an online questionnaire service, comprises fourteen questions, and is completed anonymously. The questions focus on the following areas:
  • Physical & emotional health considerations;
  • Work considerations;
  •  Family considerations and;
  • General life considerations.
You can view the Pre-Deployment Questionnaire here Pre Deployment Questionnaire

The Post Deployment Questionnaire is the primary tool used in the Post Deployment Review. The questionnaire is in two parts.  Part A asks questions about the volunteer’s deployment work environment. Answers to these questions can be helpful to unit leaders for future planning. 

Part B asks questions regarding high-risk factors the volunteer may have experienced while on deployment and whether the volunteer is experiencing specific relevant stress symptoms.  Part B ends by providing suggestions the volunteer may consider employing to help readjust to home life and integrate their deployment experiences.  Part B is a self-assessment and psychoeducational tool; thus, the volunteer is requested to keep this material and review it later.
You can view the Post-Deployment Questionnaire here Post Deployment Questionnaire

Guidelines for the Use of the Pre-deployment and Post-deployment Questionnaires

Pre-Deployment Questionnaire
PURPOSE: The goal of the Pre-deployment Survey is to help potential volunteers to seriously consider all relevant factors impacting their lives before deciding to deploy. A second goal is to inform unit coordinators as to the physical and emotional readiness of their volunteer force.
WHAT: The Pre-deployment survey asks questions in the following areas:
·       Physical and emotional health considerations
·       Work considerations
·       Family considerations
·       General life considerations
WHEN: The survey should be sent for all emergency response deployments to volunteers who have volunteered for a specific day and shift. The survey can be sent when the volunteer is approved by the Unit Coordinator for a shift. Surveys should be completed 24 hours before a shift is scheduled to begin.
WHY: There are legal, ethical, scientific, and practical reasons why an MRC Unit would screen volunteers before deployment. The National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) states that at a minimum all workers should be screened for fitness and baseline information should be obtained for all disaster workers before the start of a response. NIOSH states “The primary goal for pre-deployment (or comparable pre-exposure) medical screening programs is to evaluate a worker’s fitness to perform potentially hazardous or stressful work safely. Additionally, pre-deployment medical screening can be used to assess minimal physical and emotional requirements to perform work activities, the ability to use personal protective equipment (PPE), and the worker’s immunization status. Pre-deployment medical screening also documents the workers’ health status for use as a baseline when interpreting the results of any subsequent evaluations. Screening can also be used to identify risk factors that should be mitigated before or during disaster work. Finally, while not a primary purpose in this context, screening may help detect subclinical or unrecognized disease for early intervention.”

The present pre-deployment questionnaire is designed to provide a systematic method for self-selecting out those individuals who are at high risk for not completing the deployment due to personal/stress characteristics. We define deployment failure as the inability to complete the designated shift/responsibility of the deployment. The rationale upon which this tool is based is the belief that those individuals who are already experiencing higher than normal levels of life stress and/or have lower than normal levels of life resources are at greater risk for not completing the deployment. Of course, a corollary to this premise is that those individuals who are experiencing lower levels of life stress and/or have greater than normal levels of life resources are at lower risk of deployment failure.

At the conclusion of the questionnaire, the volunteer develops a risk estimate of failure—low, medium, or high deployment failure. The volunteer completing the survey receives the following instructions:

Now that you have completed and scored the questionnaire think about your answers and scores. For example, if you did not answer Yes to Question 17 or if your Grand Total Score is 15 or more, we urge you to seek out the Staging Liaison, your Team Leader, and/or your Unit Coordinator, share this information with them and discuss whether you should deploy today.

They have been trained to be available for such discussions and to provide confidentiality. Remember, not everyone is always available to provide volunteer service.
Post-deployment Questionnaire

The goal of a Post-Deployment Review is to assist disaster volunteers to:
·       successfully transition back to their pre-deployment lives and routines; and
·       Begin to incorporate their deployment experience into their lives in a meaningful way.
WHEN: A Post Deployment Survey should be sent to each volunteer who deployed in an emergency response within 1 week of the deployment.
WHY: Providing care and support in the immediate aftermath of a disaster can be an enriching professional and personal experience. However, it can also be physically and emotionally exhausting. Therefore, immediately after deployment disaster volunteers should participate in a Post Deployment Review.
POSSIBLE OUTCOMES: Disaster volunteers can experience a number of stress responses, which are considered common when working with survivors. These include:
·       Increase or decrease in activity level
·       Difficulties sleeping
·       Substance use
·       Numbing
·       Irritability, anger, and frustration
·       Vicarious traumatization in the form of shock, fearfulness, horror, helplessness
·       Confusion, lack of attention, and difficulty making decisions
·       Physical reactions (headaches, stomachaches, being easily startled)
·       Depressive or anxiety symptoms
·       Decreased social activities

Extreme Stress Reactions: Disaster volunteers may also experience more serious stress responses that warrant seeking support from a professional.
Speaking with a mental health professional may promote improved coping following a deployment.

posted 6 months ago by jcallphdjd

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