Science and Technology News

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Psychological First Aid? There’s An App For That

Written by Dr. Julie Kinn

I’m not alone in saying my heart goes out to those impacted by Hurricane Isaac. As a clinical psychologist, I have treated many children and adults who carry trauma symptoms long after danger has passed from natural or man-made disasters. We health care providers are keenly aware that disasters happen many times a year, and that those treating the survivors rarely have a surplus of resources.

To help support providers on the frontlines of care in emergencies, the VA’s National Center for PTSD and the DoD’s National Center for Telehealth & Technology (T2) have released PFA Mobile . This free mobile application assists providers in putting Psychological First Aid (PFA) into practice in the field. The app includes a brief refresher on the main components of PFA, assists with mentorship of other providers, and allows providers to self-assess and develop insight into readiness to provide PFA.

Some primary features that make the app so appropriate for disaster situations include:

 ■Easy forms for collecting data in difficult circumstances
 ■Intervention strategies tailored to unique conditions
 ■No requirement for internet or phone connectivity to run

PFA Mobile is currently available for iOS (Apple) devices and will deploy for Android devices in 2013. If you are a first responder or frontline care provider, I suggest you take it for a test drive and become familiar with this excellent resource.

Dr. Julie Kinn is a clinical and research psychologist. She leads mobile health application development for the DoD’s National Center for Telehealth & Technology (T2).

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