United States

Mobile Psycho-Trauma Team Assembling

September 7, 2005

Dr. Martina Fuchs

The Real Medicine Foundation is currently assembling its first Mobile Psycho-Trauma Team to assist those displaced by Hurricane Katrina, which struck the Gulf Coast of the United States on Aug. 29. The volunteer team of professionals will provide emotional and psychological support and counseling to help children, families and communities cope with the aftermath of the catastrophe.

We are requesting donations in order to reach locations housing hurricane victims as quickly as possible.

While the government and hundreds of other organizations are working to provide food, clothing and shelter to hurricane victims, the volunteers of the Real Medicine Foundation believe that relief from the emotional distress can be as important, particularly for children.

"Children who experience adverse events like natural disasters and other traumatic events frequently go on to develop serious psychological after-effects that can last a lifetime," said Dr. Kevin Becker, director of the Institute for Trauma & Crisis at Harvard University's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and a member of the mobile team. "Timely and appropriate support is key to preventing these long-term impacts."

A model for the Psycho-Trauma Units proposed for Katrina relief was devised shortly after the 2004 tsunami in Sri Lanka, an Indian Ocean island nation where more than 30,000 were killed by the Dec. 26 waves. Real Medicine had provided support and counseling to the children of Sri Lankan coastal towns devastated by the disaster.

The idea for a mobile, quick-response psychological support team fills a void to which other organizations are unable to attend in the initial period following a disaster. Each unit is comprised of a multi-disciplinary team of professionals, which typically include physicians, psychologists and community workers.

We are planning to have an initial team in place as early as Sept. 9. Future teams in additional locations depend on the support of private donations and those professionals willing to volunteer their time. Funding just one team's expenses costs the foundation $16,000 for a few critical weeks following a disaster.

The idea behind Real Medicine is that it's friends coming together to help friends. To this point, we have been able to provide support to people half a world away. Never in our nightmares could we have predicted that the next place people needed our help would be in our own back yard.

To volunteer, please contact us at info@realmedicinefoundation.org

We will keep you posted on our work.

Thank you from all of us for your support!

Country Page: United States Initiative Page: Hurricane Katrina Relief Project