Bundy first in mental health aid

BUNDABERG Lifeline is leading the country in emergency relief training, with a new program that centres on how to look after a person's psychological state following a traumatic event.

General manager Richard Johnson became involved with the relief effort during the Childers backpacker fire nine years ago.

“Fifteen people died in the fire, and their families and the community were also affected,” he said.

“People were floundering as they tried to administer psychological aid - especially to a large group of people.”

Since the hostel fire, other disasters causing trauma have included Cyclone Larry, the floods in Emerald and Mackay, and storm damage in Brisbane.

Psychological First Aid was created to equip people to help with the immediate emotional and psychological impacts of such critical events.

The program, which received national accreditation in March this year, has attracted attention from around the state and nationally.

Twenty-five trainers have already gone through the program and have started conducting their own sessions around Queensland.

The training is also being used to help victims of the two massive international disasters in the last week.

“One response at the moment in applying (psychological) first aid is that we have people meeting others as they return to Australia from Samoa and Indonesia,” Mr Johnson said.

Lifeline psychologist John Maybanks said the program was attracting a lot of interest because it gives people a set of core skills that can be applied in various settings.

“People have a real desire to help and we can use our training to give a level of service to people affected that goes beyond just being there,” he said.

Mr Johnson said he also encouraged all emergency service personnel to take the training.

Queensland Ambulance Service area director Roger Williams said that although the service had a system set up to support paramedics involved in traumatic incidents, he applauded the Lifeline initiative.

Mr Williams said it fulfilled a missing link in response to trauma within the community.

“What Lifeline is actually doing is really important,” he said.

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