Title: An analysis of individual rescuers psychological responses to catastrophic traumatic events
Renee’ B. Bazzelle MSN, RN
US Navy Nurse Corps, USA
Abstract: Catastrophic traumatic events occur every second of the day all over the world. They include plane crashes, earth quakes, tsunamis, floods, fires, motor vehicles accidents, bombings, mass shootings, and hurricanes just to name a few. Numerous individuals have the responsibility to clear the disaster site of the casualties and fatalities of human remains and wreckage. This presentation discusses the phenomenological study of 97 interviews with nurses, military members, police officers, fire fighters, and paramedics related to their experiences of responding to numerous catastrophic traumatic events.
My research findings indicate numerous first responders deeply suppress the events in rejoinder to on site deaths during catastrophic traumatic events. There is a stigma that is placed on mental health issues that can result in the loss of their job, so many do not discuss the experience. Some individuals begin to lack empathy, and empower their thought processes to areas deeply within their sub consciousness of selective amnesia in order to compensate and place their mental state to a perceived normality. A large majority viewed accounts of body retrieval as a normal part of their occupation. Many later became at high risk for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and suicide ideations.
There are many tools in place to determine if individuals have experienced a traumatic event to diagnoses post-traumatic stress disorder. Unfortunately, the assessor lacks insight to what the individual is actually experiencing mentally. Their accounts are subjected to personal biases, of the assessor’s culture and own experience which leads them to underscore the final assessment as perceptions of malingering and exaggerations of the actual experience.
Audience Take Away: The goal of this presentation to bring a realistic perspective of what mental challenges can occur to first responders, which will provide health professionals the ability to understand numerous accounts with catastrophic traumatic events can result in suicide, and PTSD, and survivors guilt.
- Nurses and Nurse Practitioners are one of the first individuals on a multi-disciplinary treatment team to received first accounts of information from responders. Nurses can offer early interventions, referrals and education.
- Catastrophic traumatic events occur all over the world daily. Whether the first responder is military or civilian, nurses in a clinical office setting or inpatient emergent setting can enhance their practice with information provided.
Renee B. Bazzelle served in the United States Air Force and Navy with 21 years of active duty service in the roles of medical laboratory specialist and an officer in Navy Nurse Corps. She provided specimen analysis at Torrejon, AB Spain, was a member of the Tsunami Relief Support Team, Okinawa, Japan, served as Head of Medical Operations, Marine Corp Air Station, Beaufort, South Carolina, which included (SAR) Search Air Rescue and was specially selected to the Joint Task Force as a psychiatric nurse for detainee operations- Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. She is a graduate of University of Detroit McCauley School of Nursing.