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The 10 Stages of Acute Traumatic Stress Management

During a crisis, the primary objective is the stabilization of illness and injury and, ultimately, the preservation of life. While physical and safety needs are routinely addressed, many caregivers feel ill-prepared to address emergent psychological needs. Acute Traumatic Stress Management empowers healthcare providers and emergency responders to raise their level of care.

Following is a quick overview of the 10 Stages of Acute Traumatic Stress Management:

1. Assess for Danger/Safety for Self and Others

  • Are there factors that can compromise your safety or the safety of others?

2. Consider the Mechanism of Injury

  • How did the event physically and perceptually impact the individual?

3. Evaluate the Level of Responsiveness

  • Is the individual alert and responsive? Under the influence of a substance?

4. Address Medical Needs

  • For those who are specifically trained to manage acute medical conditions

5. Observe & Identify

  • Who has been exposed to the event and who is evidencing signs of traumatic stress?

6. Connect with the Individual

• Introduce yourself, state your title and/or position. Once he is medically evaluated, move the individual away from the stressor. Begin to develop rapport.

7. Ground the Individual

• Discuss the facts, assure safety if he is, have him “Tell his story.” Discuss behavioral and physiological responses.

8. Provide Support

  • Be empathic. Communicate a desire to understand the feelings that lie behind his words.

9. Normalize the Response

  • Normalize, validate and educate.... “Normal person trying to cope with an abnormal event.”

10. Prepare for the Future

  • Review the event, bring the person to the present, describe events in the future and provide referrals.

Certificate Program

Training in Acute Traumatic Stress Management (ATSM) aims to empower healthcare providers and emergency responders to look beyond the physical and safety needs of people and also address emergent psychological needs.

Dr. Mark Lerner is the originator of ATSM and coauthor of Comprehensive Acute Traumatic Stress Management. He has been called upon to consult with and train many organizations in ATSM, internationally ... from hospitals, large corporations, airlines, schools and universities to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center for the Department of Homeland Security, and the United Nations Department of Safety and Security in New York and Paris, France.

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