FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas - Civilian and military community members often are first responders to a crisis that happens in local areas. As such, those who are trained to handle events are critical in getting the right amount of support and information for those who are affected within time.
The Chaplain Ministry Team from U.S. Army North participated in the Community Crisis Response Team training held by the National Organization of Victim Assistance at the San Antonio Baptist Association April 22.
The ARNORTH Chaplain Team became involved with this training because of their interest in helping military members and survivors maintain resiliency during disaster response operations, said Col. Dan Franklin, chaplain, ARNORTH.
Knowing of this interest, the president of the San Antonio Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster requested the assistance from him to help the SAVOAD develop a plan to address the issue of encouraging spiritual and emotional needs of evacuees at the city-run shelters following disasters. Franklin worked with members of the SAVOAD to develop a plan and the NOVA training is a key ingredient to this plan.
This training, given one day a week for five weeks, focused on training crisis responders to assist survivors of disasters cope with the emotional and spiritual impact of the disaster. Training modules included understanding the trauma response, the impact of death and loss, understanding stress reactions, dealing with the media and the impact of culture on the trauma response.
"This is a training tool used to effectively help people who have been affected by tragedy and crisis," said Glenn Hall, retired Army chaplain and volunteer. "This has been one of the best trainings this community has done for its residents."
"This training definitely can help me - not only during times of great tragedy in a community but also in everyday life and events," said Dexter Brown, who works at a Hospice.
Volunteer groups such as these are often supporting communities who suffer from great loss of life whether it is from a natural disaster, catastrophic event or a widely publicized death in the community.
"I wanted to do it for my own development and to help prepare me to help the people I work with and definitely work for," said Staff Sgt. Glenn Hambrick, office of the chaplain, Army North. "This is unique training they are giving us. It is very specific and very details on how to help people through times of crisis. I have not had any type of this training before in the military so it will help benefit my ability to assist in more ways than one."
This training was available to volunteers and was sponsored by SAVOAD, the San Antonio Community of Congregations, with funding assistance from the Texas Baptist Convention and the Methodist Healthcare System.
The SAVOAD also offers a four-hour introductory NOVA Course that addresses the need to rapidly integrate volunteers to serve as members of the Crisis Resiliency Team. The course addresses topics such as The National VOAD Points of Consensus; Impact of Trauma on Individuals; Elements of Crisis Intervention, and Spiritual Dimensions of Trauma.
All volunteers must complete the blocks of instructions in order to serve as a member of the Team. The SAVOAD recognizes that many volunteers will come with skills and training that far exceeds the training level of the Introduction to NOVA Course, but it is still essential that all volunteers undergo the training. This ensures that all members of the Team have a common level of understanding on the role of the Team and the Points of Consensus, according to SAVOAD.
"We need to ensure that we have a team of trained volunteers who are ready to respond within 24 hours of a request," said Franklin. "Not only do we need to build resiliency in our victims and those affected, but we also have to build resiliency in our volunteer crisis responders."