APA activates Disaster Response Network in response to Superstorm Sandy
Many residents along the nation’s northeast coast were unprepared for the degree of devastation Superstorm Sandy delivered to their doorsteps in October. Psychologists with APA’s Disaster Response Network were among those who were prepared and ready to assist survivors and as well as workers as they dealt with trauma, loss and grief.
Through the association’s 20-year partnership with the American Red Cross, the DRN provided each state coordinator with updates from the Red Cross on disaster mental health training, recruitment and response. The DRN coordinators, who are appointed by their state psychological associations in New York and New Jersey, received guidance and consultation to manage this crisis.
These coordinators participated in local planning meetings and asked their local members to help at Red Cross shelters and mobile emergency aid stations in the storm-ravaged areas. Available DRN members followed Red Cross deployment procedures to travel to and assist in relief operations, using guides, fact sheets, articles and outcome research from previous natural disasters to offer emotional support to workers and survivors. In states where the storm had less impact, the DRN programs were prepared to assist as needed.
State coordinators have also been actively recruiting new local volunteers. “For psychologists who want to help when disaster strikes, Sandy is a reminder to reach out in the months ahead and connect with your state DRN coordinator and local Red Cross chapter, take disaster training and become part of the response system so that you know how to respond the next time,” said Margie Bird, director of APA’s Disaster Response Network.
It is common after a disaster strikes for APA members and others to contact APA to find out how they can help. APA linked several dozen professionals to their state DRN program and the Red Cross’s training and recruitment information.