Responding to Emergencies, Disasters and Infectious Diseases

Emergencies, disasters and infectious diseases, like any life stressor, challenge the way people cope. Whether one learns about them on television or experiences them personally, one can feel upset, fearful and anxious as a result, both for one’s own personal safety as well as that of one’s family, friends and community. Stressful events can also bring up feelings and memories of previous traumatic events thereby compounding the distress that people feel.

In light of this, the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) and its Executive Staff have been involved in various emergency preparedness planning activities, as well as in the development of various emergency preparedness resources.  

On this page you will find a number of resources - some authored by the CPA and some by other agencies - specific to help you cope with and respond to various types of emergencies, disasters and tragic events. 

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Responding to Stressful Events

Shootings and Terrorist Acts

Fires

H1N1 and Pandemic Influenza

Floods

Earthquakes

Tsunamis

SARS

Disaster Resources for Health Care Providers Who Care for Seniors

Natural disasters and human-caused catastrophes negatively and disproportionately affect older adults. Two new resources are available – free and on-line – for health care providers, teams, and organizations that provide services to vulnerable older adults. These resources target the needs of older adults who are frail and those who have dementia, including nursing home residents.   

  • Special Concerns of Older Adults Following a Disaster (APA)
  • Psychosocial Issues for Older Adults in Disasters (Chapter 3) (APA)
  • Recovering Emotionally from Disaster (APA)
  • Recovering Emotionally from Disaster (also available in French) (Red Cross)
  •  Psychologist Maggie Gibson, co-chair of the International Working Group on Seniors and Disasters: Health Care Providers and Continuity of Health Services (sponsored by the Public Health Agency of Canada Division of Aging and Seniors), recently led the development of a four-module e-learning resource titled Frailty, Dementia and Disasters: What Health Care Providers Need to Know. The objectives of this user-friendly training resource are to raise awareness of: the disproportionate vulnerability of older adults who are frail and those who have dementia in emergencies and disasters; the components of the emergency management cycle and how they apply to this population; best practice resources; and the role of health care organizations and providers in emergency management for older adults who are frail and who have dementia. The e-learning resource (in both English and French) is available with open access at: www.dementiaknowledgebroker.ca/emergency-management.
  • Nursing home residents are at particular risk for experiencing adverse outcomes after disasters because of mental health problems or compromised physical health status. Because nursing home residents usually do not stay in public shelters and are evacuated to other facilities where they can receive needed skilled nursing care, residents typically do not have interaction with responders and relief workers who provide psychological first aid. To address this gap in care, the Psychological First Aid Field Operations Guide for Nursing Homes, funded by Psychology Beyond Borders, was developed by Psychologist Lisa Brown and colleagues for nursing home staff to use with residents. Psychological First Aid Field Operations Guide for Nursing Homes, Second Edition is now available from the University of South Florida. The second edition, like the first, reflects a multidisciplinary approach to care. Changes made to the new edition broaden the scope of how, when, and where the intervention is applied. Three new sections have been added: palliative care and end-of-life issues; behavioral interventions for people with dementia; and use of psychological first aid to help older adults deal with significant life changes, events, or losses. To download a copy, visit:  http://amhd.cbcs.usf.edu/docs/PFA2ndEd_Final.pdf 

Resources on Psychosocial Planning During Emergencies

Canada's Pandemic Influenza Plan

Canada's Federal Emergency Response Plan