Psychological first aid pilot: Haiti emergency response

Psychological first aid (PFA) is an approach for providing basic psychological support to people in acute distress. It is now viewed as one of the primary early psychosocial interventions during, or immediately following, a crisis. World Vision International, War Trauma Foundation and World Health Organisation have developed a PFA guide for low and middle income countries (LAMIC) following acute emergencies. After the Haiti earthquake, World Vision International (WVI) undertook a pilot orientation to test the draft PFA guide and to provide some basic information on PFA for those assisting in an acute emergency. This paper documents lessons learned from the pilot within the Haiti context, including the use of brief PFA materials. The staff found PFA to be a useful, empowering approach to providing psychosocial support to people affected by the earthquake. One key lesson was that the full version of the draft PFA guide could serve as a comprehensive model (adapted to context), while a shorter version can be used as a generic resource in the immediate aftermath of an emergency. The draft PFA materials designed for LAMIC show promise as a resource for Haiti, and potentially other humanitarian contexts in the future.

Schafer, Alison; Snider, Leslie; van Ommeren, Mark