Do’s and Don’ts of Basic Trauma Care
Let the person know that however they are feeling in the moment that it is ok. There is no wrong way to feel. Everyone responds differently. Ensure that the person feels safe in sharing.
Do listen! God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason. LISTEN.
Ask minimal questions, and when you do, ask open ended questions (not yes or no questions). For example: What was your experience during the earthquake?
Do encourage everyone in the group to talk.
Do use the word “survivor” rather than “victim.”
Do be comfortable with silence.
Do take care of yourself. Compassion fatigue is real. Caring for others is difficult and can cause you to forget about taking care of yourself. Rest! Debrief your own experience! Exercise! Eat! Family time!
Do not make assumptions about what survivors are experiencing or what they have been through.
Do not assume that everyone exposed to a disaster will be traumatized.
Do not talk down to or patronize the survivor, or focus on his/her helplessness, weaknesses, mistakes, or disability.
Do not assume that all survivors want to talk or need to talk to you. Often, being physically present in a supportive and calm way helps affected people feel safer and more able to cope.
Do not speculate or offer possibly inaccurate information. If you cannot answer a survivor’s question, do your best to learn the facts.
Do not try to fill the silence with questions or your own stories. It is not the time for you to talk about your own story, however you need to let them know you understand.
The Basic Questions for Trauma Care
Where were you?
What did you see and hear?
Who were you with?
When did the event start? End?
What did you think as you realized the magnitude or extent of what has happened?
What were your first thoughts when…
What have you been thinking about since the event?
What came to mind when….?
What has been good?
What has been hard?
What word(s) would you use to describe how you think people felt right after the event?
How would you describe people’s feelings right after the event?
What did you see in people’s faces? What emotions did you see?
And what are people feeling now?
Did you see any of those emotions in your family or those close to you?
Can you relate to any of those feelings?