Minnesota psychologists aid response

Minnesota Disaster Response Network (DRN) members were part of a well-orchestrated group of Red Cross volunteers and emergency workers who offered assistance in the aftermath of the I-35W bridge collapse in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area earlier this month

by Public Relations Staff

August 9, 2007 — Minnesota Disaster Response Network (DRN) members were part of a well-orchestrated group of Red Cross volunteers and emergency workers who offered assistance in the aftermath of the I-35W bridge collapse in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area earlier this month.  DRN responders included: Marylou Caskey; Marya O. Hage, MS, LP; Thomas E. Harbaugh, PhD; David W. Keenan, EdD; Kirstin Kone; Fran Lesicko; Cathy W. Montgomery, PhD; Sam C. Scher, PhD; Audrey Schroeder; Jeanne M. Schur, PhD; Rebecca Thomley, PhD and at least six other psychologists not currently registered with the Minnesota DRN program.

Since relief operations began, DRN members have been on hand at the American Red Cross’ (ARC) Family Assistance Center to offer emotional support to families and friends of the victims. In addition, teams of ARC volunteers — including disaster mental health responders — have been working directly with families of the missing, deceased and injured to help them manage their concerns and needs. Volunteers have visited with families at their homes and met with families at local hospitals.

The American Red Cross (ARC) reports that, in addition to the care given to persons immediately affected by the disaster, it has also responded to more than 1,200 inquiries that have included mental health counseling and emotional support.

ARC's Twin Cities Area Chapter, through which the DRN members are partnered, has been commended for its prompt and well-managed relief operations. Minnesota DRN Coordinator Rebecca Thomley, PsyD, credits monthly chapter meetings and regular drills and training as primary factors in the smooth relief efforts. The Minnesota DRN program is part of a larger "stress team" that includes 120 Red Cross-trained Disaster Mental Health responders.

APA’s Disaster Response Network (DRN) is a national network of psychologists with training in disaster response who offer volunteer assistance to relief workers, victims and victim’s families after manmade or natural disasters. 
As DRN members assisted with disaster response efforts, Minnesota psychologists who are involved with the APA Public Education Campaign (PEC) also helped members of the community with their distress after the bridge collapse. APA Public Education Campaign Coordinator Deb Fisher, PsyD, and colleagues shared information from APA about managing traumatic stress at various community-based venues such as places of worship.

The Minnesota Psychological Association posted the tips for managing traumatic stress on the homepage at www.mnpsych.org. The same material has been prominently featured online at The APA Help Center, the website of the APA public education campaign, since the bridge disaster on August 1.

APA thanks all volunteers who are contributing to the relief efforts.