Red Cross psychological first aid workshop at Tea Gardens

The class full of Red Cross psychological first aiders in training at Tea Gardens.

FIRST aid after a traumatic event is needed both physically and psychologically, and the local Red Cross Emergency Services division was hard at work equipping its volunteers with the tools to help, on Saturday, 24 June.

More than a dozen students, a third of them new, received tutelage from Red Cross training facilitator Stacey Swampcastle, who has more than eight years of experience in this field with the Maitland emergency services team.

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“Volunteers are really important, and emergency services volunteers need this training, opening the doors to so many experiences, and the skills are highly transferable too,” Ms Swampcastle told NOTA.

The training was full of invaluable advice for effectively helping others in need, with a clear focus on the lost art of listening.

“You need to be able to listen to someone in order to help them, but modern technology makes that a difficult thing,” Ms Swampcastle said.

“[Listening] can be humanising to help people in times of stress.”

Emphasis was on the mindset that a psychological first-aider needed to have in an evacuation or at an emergency centre, such as understanding a person’s needs over wants, and avoiding the trap of making assumptions.

Volunteers came from far and wide – from Singleton and Maitland – one man came all the way from Sydney, to be able to gain familiarity with other communities and localities, despite similar training being available down south.

Such training has, by necessity, been relegated to ‘online-only’ for the last few years, however, those who came last week all agreed that the in-person, face-to-face experience is far superior to online learning, especially in such a human-to-human connection role.

Thankfully, catastrophic events have been rare of late in the local area, however, that means some locals may not even be aware of the good work the Red Cross and its Psychological First Aiders are doing.

Several of the students actually assisted at the recent Hunter Valley bus tragedy, helping ease the psychological trauma on-site.


By Thomas O’KEEFE

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