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Treating An Acute Stress Reaction That Resulted From a Medical Trauma — Psychological First Aid In Action
Irit Ravid is one of United Hatzalah’s Psychotrauma Crisis and Response Unit (PCRU) responders. She is ready to assist someone suffering emotional or psychological distress at any time of the day or night. A recent medical emergency occurred on her moshav, Nahala, in which her psychotrauma training made all the difference.
Irit RavidThe incident took place on a recent Friday afternoon. A grandmother was walking down the steps out of the house when she tripped on a stone and fell, landing awkwardly and striking her head. She began to bleed profusely from significant facial wounds. The frightening fall was witnessed by her two grandsons, aged ten and thirteen. The two boys ran into the house, calling urgently for help. Their mother came rushing out, immediately calling for an ambulance.
Irit received the alert and (despite being some distance away) responded to the call. She arrived to find several other medics already on-site treating the injured woman. However, Irit’s trained eye immediately noticed the ten-year-old boy. He was shaking and crying, suffering in the throes of a severe panic attack. His agitated parents and family members, already overwhelmed by the grandmother’s condition, were unable to handle the boy’s acute stress reaction and were alternating between being impatient, irritated and nominally sympathetic.
Irit took off her orange vest so as not to intimidate the child as she firmly cleared everyone away from him and guided him to a quieter spot. Sitting beside him, she encouraged him to breathe deeply and guided him through breathing exercises until he could control his racing breathing. She listened to him empathetically as he described the frightening, bloody scene and commended him for his fast, mature response. “You went to call for help, and EMTs came to help your grandmother all because of you,” she told him. “Now she’s in good hands getting the treatment she needs.” Irit continued talking soothingly with the boy for a full half-hour as he slowly recovered. Finally, he was able to focus and talk about practical matters. A calm, level-headed and caring aunt arrived to look after the young boy and Irit left the home, satisfied that the child had support should he need it.
Irit paused outside to talk to the older brother for a few minutes, ensuring that he too was okay, before finally leaving the family.
Such an incident could have long-term effects on this impressionable child. Irit’s prompt intervention on-site ensured that he was able to process what had happened in a healthier way, preventing further emotional trauma and the possible onset of PTSD or other emotional disorders in the future. This is just one small example of how this life-changing unit is enabling its volunteers to reach out and be there for others when medical traumas occur.