APA and American Red Cross reaffirm historic partnership

A recent agreement commits APA to maintaining its Disaster Response Network to offer emotional support and crisis assistance to disaster survivors and Red Cross workers

by Public Relations Staff

May 26, 2009 — On February 26, 2009, the American Psychological Association (APA) and American Red Cross (ARC) renewed a Memorandum of Understanding during a special ceremony at ARC headquarters in Washington, DC. (Read the 2009 Memorandum of Understanding Between APA and American National Red Cross — PDF, 580 KB.)

The two organizations have worked together for nearly 18 years since an original agreement was signed in December 1991. Occasionally over the years, the formal memorandum has been updated in keeping with advances in disaster services.

According to DRN Director Margie Schroeder, the agreement commits APA to maintaining its Disaster Response Network (DRN), a network of licensed and disaster-trained psychologists who can offer emotional support and crisis assistance to disaster survivors and Red Cross workers.

These psychologists also offer expertise to ARC in developing training and other forms of disaster planning. Recognized by Congress as the nation's leading disaster relief organization, ARC in turn maintains the infrastructure and organization to incorporate the volunteer contributions of DRN members.

Unveiled at the 1992 APA Convention as the association's Centennial gift to the nation, the DRN continues to flourish. The program is more than 2,500 members strong, representing state, U.S. territories, and Canadian provinces.

These psychologists have responded to numerous disasters large and small from the Oklahoma City bombing, 9/11 terrorist attacks and Gulf Coast hurricanes to school shootings, tornadoes and apartment fires.

This week, as officials are anticipating record flooding along the Red River Valley, psychologists in North Dakota are helping with evacuation planning and shelter set-up and psychologists in neighboring states are on stand-by for deployment to the region.

YouTube features North Dakota DRN Coordinator Kit O'Neil, PhD on preparing emotionally for Red River flooding.

DRN members also recently shared their expertise in the development of ARC's Foundations of Disaster Mental Health course and its Psychological First Aid course, now required training for all ARC disaster responders.

Suzan Stafford, EdD, DRN Coordinator and Advisory Committee member notes, "For any psychologist interested in contributing to his or her community, the DRN is a wonderful way to do so."

Through its DRN program, APA will continue to support the work of ARC and other disaster relief organizations in order to aid the public in times of disaster.