Alberta Health Services offers up unique first-aid course

You’ve likely heard of industrial first aid, but what about psychological first aid?


If you are, Alberta Health Services is holding its second of three free virtual sessions Thursday, Oct. 17, on how to properly respond to a social or emotional disaster.

“One of the tools we look at is being a good helper in these types of situations,” says Jody Walker, mental health promotion facilitator with AHS.

“So, the skills might be similar to, let’s say, occupational first aid. However, we put it in the context of how we respond in the disaster emotionally and the surrounding environment.”

The three-hour session looks at such things as coping skills and reducing the level of emotional stress on a person impacted by an event like a flood, wildfire, earthquake or other personal tragedy.

While we might not necessarily be on the front lines, Walker says it doesn’t mean we won’t come across someone facing a life-changing challenge.

“Yes, you might have folks that are in a reception centre, but it might also be someone serving people in a hotel or restaurant. It could be a front-line agency, counsellor or therapist, but it could also be coming across someone in a grocery store,” she says.

“So, we’re looking at a broad range of demographic when we’re talking about psychological first aid because anyone could come in contact with an evacuee.”

In short, Walker believes it’s looking at the complete social and emotional health of the person impacted by disaster.

“We’ve been, basically, delivering psychological first aid since the Calgary floods, but with the pandemic, it’s allowed us to use this virtual aspect in a way that’s much more effective in reaching a bigger number of people,” she says.

“Before, when we were in person, you would have to have people that were in your local community to deliver that training.”

The Oct. 17 webinar goes from 1 to 4 p.m.

Registering in advance is recommended by going to the online Zoom link:

A third three-hour session is set for Nov. 16, beginning at 9 a.m.

Dave Lueneberg, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze