NEWS | April 20, 2011

Traumatic Stress Response team provides training

By Master Sgt. Stephen Boice 628th Medical Operations Squadron, mental health technician

A plane goes down, a tsunami makes landfall, an earthquake shakes a nation or a car crashes leaving people severely injured. These events can happen without warning and often stretch our ability to cope with the stressors around us. Events of this nature are beyond the scope of everyday occurrences and often leave us feeling unprepared. How do individuals affected by these events cope? Joint Base Charleston's Traumatic Stress Response team has the answers.

According to Air Force Capt. Jonathan Frank, a psychologist assigned to the 628th Medical Operations Squadron and the TSR team chief, the use of the TSR team helps reduce the number of personnel diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other long term problems. This is done by allowing individuals to process their emotions and experiences early in the event and learn how to deal with the reactions they may be experiencing. The affected individuals are trained to recognize their reactions as a normal response to an abnormal situation and to recognize when they or a friend are in need of more intensive help.

"The TSR team is a multi-disciplinary team that works with individuals involved in traumatic incidents to help them understand their reactions to those events," said Captain Frank. "Most importantly, TSR seeks to prevent long term psychological problems associated with traumatic events."

The team offers pre-exposure preparation training, grief counseling and incident counseling.

Pre-exposure preparation training is available for units considered to be high risk including: firefighters, security forces, medical personnel, search and recovery and Explosive Ordinance Disposal.

"The most important thing for a first responder is to be able to function during and after an event. This training helps make that possible," said Captain Frank.

Grief counseling is offered on a one-on-one basis and is available for anyone involved in an incident or directly affected by the incident. After-incident counseling is offered as close to the scene as possible for those first responders and individuals directly involved in the event. Any individual seen under the TSR umbrella is allowed up to four undocumented sessions with a team member.

"The TSR team prepares Airmen with pre-exposure preparation training," said Air Force Maj. Patrick Pohle, Joint Base Charleston Mental Health Flight Commander. "Then, when an incident does happen, we are there to provide support as well."

To access the TSR team for training, contact the Mental Health Clinic at 963-6852. During real-world events, the team can be accessed through the Command Post.