Few, if any, of these plans consider preparations for when you return (what are the mental, emotional, or spiritual needs after disaster?). In most cases, it seems that the preparedness planners are disconnected from thoughts of how a trauma event may affect people or perhaps they assume that by repairing the facilities, the heart will follow suit. Too often, though, that is not the case. Trauma distorts senses of time and body continuity. Fusing those connections anew takes patience and presence.
Expanding the definition of disaster preparedness is vital to the health of communities. Recognizing that eventually you will have to gather again after the crisis, and that most people will struggle to resume business as usual, will help to begin the process of forming plans for mental, emotional, and spiritual care (MESC).
Below is one example for how to begin planning for MESC disaster preparedness:
Who should be involved in the planning process? Representatives from local care service agencies, namely faith leaders, social workers, mental health professionals, and chaplains.
When planning, who will receive care after a crisis? Anyone involved in the crises, including survivors, victims' families, and first responders.
How do planners prepare for the communication that occurs during and after a crisis? Best practices for communication during and after a crisis frequently occur through previously established professional or constituent groups. These may include ministerial groups, business or nonprofit associations, and VOADs. These groups may exist simply to shake hands and keep in contact, and not necessarily do anything beyond being a communication mechanism, in order to be useful when necessary.
What characterizes care communication during and after a crisis? During and after a crisis pre-established communication lines that may utilize email listserves, social media venues, robo-calls, conference calls, online group chats, and other forms of mass communication, can be utilized to provide current updates and network care services. Some communities find it helpful to pre-write media statements that can be saved and edited with accurate details at the time of a crisis. This practice saves time and energy. Pre-planning for what care services might be utilized in the time of a crisis can be useful as well. These may include crisis counseling hotlines, preparations for long-term counseling and therapeutic needs and funding these services, and thinking through the varying dynamics of providing care for impacted professionals, survivors and families, and how services for each may differ.
As planners proceed through answer these kinds of questions, and others that may come up through this process, they can develop a plan for long-term MESC that uniquely fits their community dynamics and utilizes best practices.