reference : Hurricane Katrina's first responders: The struggle to protect and serve in the aftermath of the disaster

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Bibliographic fields
reftype Journal Article
Abstract OBJECTIVE: Hurricane Katrina highlighted both the crucial role of first responders in times of disaster and the resultant stress on them and their families. The primary objective of this study was to describe the mental health status and symptoms of first responders in the New Orleans area. We further hypothesized that given the extent of the disaster and slowness of recovery, symptoms of posttraumatic stress and depression would not decrease after the first-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. METHODS: A total of 1382 first responders, including respondents from police, fire, emergency medical services, and city workers, participated in this longitudinal study. The first screening was conducted between 6 and 9 months after Hurricane Katrina and the second round of data collection was conducted 13 to 18 months after the hurricane. A subsample of the respondents (n = 87) were matched at both time points, which allowed for paired sample comparisons. We measured all of the respondents' levels of traumatic experiences, alcohol use, partner conflict, requests for services, posttraumatic stress, and depression. RESULTS: More than one-quarter of the first responders reported the following traumatic experiences: witnessed injury or death (70%); damage to home (93%); injury to a friend (25%); and previous loss or trauma (30%). Data also revealed that at least 10% of the respondents had significant levels of posttraumatic stress symptoms; 25% of the participants reported significant levels of depression; and more than 40% reported increased alcohol use and conflict with partner (41%). A statistically significant decrease in the symptoms of posttraumatic stress or depression was not found within 18 months of Hurricane Katrina. CONCLUSIONS: Results suggest that the severity of the traumas experienced from both the impact of Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent recovery has important mental health implications for first responders. Reports of symptoms of anxiety or depression should be attended to so as to prevent increasing symptoms that could negatively affect the first responder and his or her family. These findings highlight the importance of not only providing mental health services for first responders but also having adequate plans in place before natural or technological disasters strike.
Author Osofsky, H. J.; Osofsky, J. D.; Arey, J.; Kronenberg, M. E.; Hansel, T.; Many, M.
DOI 10.1001/dmp.2011.53
Date Sep
ISSN 1938-744X
Issue S2
Journal Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness
Keywords Adult; Aged; *Cyclonic Storms; *Disasters; Emergency Medical Technicians; *Emergency Responders; Firefighters; Health Status; Humans; *Mental Health; Middle Aged; Police
Language eng
Notes 1938-744x Osofsky, Howard J Osofsky, Joy D Arey, James Kronenberg, Mindy E Hansel, Tonya Many, Michele Journal Article United States Disaster Med Public Health Prep. 2011 Sep;5 Suppl 2:S214-9. doi: 10.1001/dmp.2011.53. Epub 2011 Aug 24.
Pages S214-S219
Title Hurricane Katrina's first responders: The struggle to protect and serve in the aftermath of the disaster
Volume 5
Year 2011
Bibliographic identifiers
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_record_number 18151
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