It has been almost two years since United Hatzalah established the Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit to treat and stabilize people who suffer psychological and emotional stress during a traumatic event. The unit has had much success and has received many accolades for its work in the field. Over the past few months, the unit has been working together with Dr. Moshe Farchi, founder and director of the Stress, Trauma and Resilience Program at Tel-Hai College.

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Dr. Moshe Farchi poses with Miriam Ballin

Farchi is widely considered to be the founding father of the field of resiliency in the face of traumatic incidents and teaches a fully fledged three-year bachelor’s program and two-year Master’s Degree in Tel Chai college based on original and innovative models that he developed over the past few years. The focus of the course, and of the Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit is on reducing the immediate sense of helplessness and increasing the person’s ability to return to full effective function in less than two minutes of the traumatic event itself.

Both Farchi and United Hatzalah have implemented models that are aimed at training first responders, giving them the best professional skills for emergency mental health intervention.

Farchi trained the unit  responders to use  the SIX C’s model – a Psychological First Aid model that he developed on 2011. This model is recognized by the Ministry of Health as being the the Israeli national recommended model for psychological first aid.  “There is a desire to establish a standardized code of conduct for implementing Psychotrauma techniques in the field,” said Miriam Ballin, director of United Hatzalah’s Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit.

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Elite members of the organization’s unit attended lectures by Farchi to learn the method and become certified teachers of the method enabling them to teach others in the unit. Upon completing the course the elite members of the unit will educate the other unit members regarding the SIX C’s procedural methodology and will eventually pass on the techniques to the rest of the organization as well.

United Hatzalah is the first EMS and Rescue organization in Israel to recognize the need for emotional and psychological first aid to be implemented at the scene of a traumatic incident. The training of United Hatzalah’s volunteers is the starting point of the national EMS training program in the SIX C’s model.

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“We do hope that the SIX C’s model skills will contribute to  United Hatzalah ability to provide psychological and emotional first aid in the field, to minimize the feeling of helplessness, and to enable those suffering from the trauma to be able to return to their surroundings and a level of functionality within a few minutes after the incident,” Farchi said.

“The success of the unit will only be enhanced by having Dr. Farchi’s model incorporated into our existing system,” Ballin added. “This is another tool up our sleeve that will enable us to better help those who need our services and that is always something to strive towards.”