Improving global prehospital and emergency health care, public health, and disaster health and preparedness

Psychosocial

The establishment of the Psychosocial Special Interest Group was approved by the WADEM Board of Directors in March 2012. Any WADEM member in good standing with expertise or interest in the psychosocial aspects of disasters is eligible to join the special interest group.

April Newsletter

SIG members are strongly encouraged to send to the SIG Officers psychosocial documents developed by your regional/national groups for inclusion on the links below.

MIssion & Vision

Mission: To pursue didactic, research, policy, and operational excellence in international disaster preparedness, response, and recovery, including the prevention and mitigation of psychosocial stress and the promotion of resilience.

Vision: To enhance the role of disaster mental health specialists in responding to and providing support across the different phases of a disaster.

Objectives

The objectives of the Psychosocial SIG are to:

  • Promote the learning and understanding of disaster mental health at the individual and community level;
  • Disseminate throughout the international disaster-related community empirically derived "best practices" and "lessons learned" by means of workshops and conference presentations as well as web-based materials;
  • Increase the presence and activities of disaster mental health specialists in disaster preparedness and response through their inclusion in existing and newly developed response networks;
  • Strengthen the research as well as the intervention skills of disaster mental health specialists through enhanced academic courses and practical training;
  • Promote greater involvement in national and international committees while identified as a WADEM representative in the field of psychosocial disaster care;
  • Coordinate international collaboration in research and in creative care approaches among psychosocial section members worldwide;
  • Develop tools for measurement of psychosocial aspects of emergencies and disasters in a standardized and internationally accepted manner.

Officers

For further information regarding SIG, or for initiation of activities, please contact the co-chairs:

Gordon Dodge, PhD
Co-Chair

Dr. Gordon Dodge is the clinical director for Lakes Area Human Services, Inc., Forest Lake, Minnesota. He has over 40 years experience as a psychologist in clinical, consultative, and educational services. He also heads up a consulting firm that addresses workplace and community crises and trauma. As a disaster psychologist, he has extensive experience working with private industry, emergency services personnel, and other public agencies on a local, national and international basis. He has had numerous international assignments: in the former Yugoslavia during their war (staff care), Kosovo (psychosocial evaluation team leader), Albania, the Burmese-Thai refugee camps, the Gujarat earthquake in India (psychosocial assessment and planning team leader), the KAL plane crash in Guam, development of the Worker Care Program for the Canadian Red Cross, two consultation and training assignments to Nairobi in follow-up to the embassy bomb blast, two psychosocial missions to Pakistan in response to the Kashmir earthquake, a consultation a training assignment in Guyana in response to civil conflict, mass murders, and neighborhood violence, and two missions to Haiti.

Domestic assignments have included an Oklahoma city bombing hotline, Red River Valley floods, Hurricane Katrina, San Diego Wildfires, and several other natural disaster responses in the United States. He worked for the American Red Cross, serving on the Critical Response Team, was assigned in a leadership position in New York following the World Trade Center attack, is an instructor in Coping with Deployment, Coming Home Series, Psychological First Aid, and Critical Incident Stress Management. He has written, lectured, and provided training extensively on many other aspects of trauma and disaster psychology nationally and internationally.

Erin Smith, PhD, MPH
Co-ChairAustralia

Dr. Erin Smith has extensive experience teaching and researching within the multidisciplinary fields of prehospital and disaster health. Dr Smith’s PhD research conducted through the Faculty of Medicine at Monash University explored paramedic perception of risk and willingness to work during disasters. This research involved conducting interviews and focus groups with nearly 100 paramedics in Australia, New York, and London.

Most recently, Dr. Smith has completed a fifteen-year follow up of medics who responded to the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York. This research involved interviewing 54 medics at five-year milestones following the attacks exploring the long-term physical and psychosocial health impacts on the medics. Dr. Smith is widely published in both the prehospital and disaster health literature and has presented her research at many national and international conferences where she has been an invited presenter and a best-presentation award winner.