Psychological First Aid

By Ms. Kris Carla R. Lawenko, Grade 3 Guidance Counselor
Dr. Pia Anna P. Ramos (front row, 3rd from the right) with GS and HS faculty

Typhoon Yolanda hit the Visayas region with devastating force on November 8, 2013. It  claimed the lives of almost 6,000, injured more than 26,000 people, and left thousands more without their homes and livelihood. But more than the destruction that Typhoon Yolanda brought to the homes and other structures, the aftermath threatened to destroy the spirits of all the survivors.

The rest of the nation was witness to the scenes and events that followed as people waited for help and as they did what they had to in order to survive while mourning the loss of their loved ones and their homes. News and stories on TV and on social media were heartbreaking.

Fortunately, help started to pour in immediately. Different organizations set up relief operations providing food, clothing, and transportation since these were what they needed foremost right after the disaster. The Psychological Association of the Philippines (PAP) offered their services in the form of giving Psychological First Aid (PAF) to the survivors since the devastation left some emotional and psychological damage and for some even trauma. Helpful professionals came together to provide this to the survivors coming in the Villamor Air Base via C-130 and Roro buses.

The PAP collaborated with different organizations and schools who may be able to give PFA to the survivors and Xavier School was one of them. On November 27, Xavier School was very fortunate to have Dr. Pia Anna P. Ramos, an Independent Education Consultant and a Child/Family Specialist and a part time lecturer in the Department of Psychology in the Ateneo De Manila University, to give a workshop on Psychological First Aid. She is also a former faculty of Xavier School.

Some faculty, staff, and administrators from both the HS and GS units signed up and attended the workshop. Dr. Ramos gave a very enlightening talk and equipped the teachers with the basics of Psychological First Aid. PFA involves psychosocial support and practical help to people who experienced an extremely distressing event. It is designed to reduce the initial distress caused by the disaster and to foster short and long term adaptive functioning and coping. Dr. Ramos gave Do’s and Don’ts based on her own experiences in giving PFA to the survivors in Villamor. Before she ended her talk, she said that although volunteering to do this task will be gratifying, it will also be painful and frustrating. The conditions of the operations are far from ideal but now more than ever, help and expertise in this area are much needed.

Right now, operations in Villamor Air Base have been discontinued but the need for PFA is still needed. The PAP encourages those who have been trained to continue providing PFA to survivors and their families.

With Christmas just around the corner, we remember those affected by the recent calamities by helping them in any way we can. Prayer no matter how simple it may be is still the most powerful. Let us all be instruments of God’s love by helping our brothers and sisters, by lifting them up and by giving them hope.

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