Frontline Care Providers, Take a Test Drive
By Franklin Cook, SADOD Director
SADOD is focused on peer support, which engages one bereaved person in helping another person who is newly bereaved. This approach to helping others is powerful.
Because of the effect fatalities have on people whose job it is to take care of folks who are using drugs, healing from drug use, or trying to make their way along whatever path they are on, one of our primary goals is to strengthen peer support among frontline care providers. Whether you are a paid worker or a volunteer, that term applies if you are a provider who has regular, close contact with people at high risk of dying from drug use.
Foundational information that we believe will lead to more and better peer support among you and your colleagues can be found at SADOD.org in a section exclusively for frontline care providers. You get there from the home page by clicking on the portal “Are you working on the front line,” where you will find about a dozen topics.
This month, I want to focus on one of those topics, “A death has affected me and my colleagues,” to give you examples of the kinds of information and resources available from SADOD. The sections on the page include “In-Depth,” which points you to several key comprehensive resources, and “Explore,” which is a collection of links to useful items related to taking care of yourself and supporting your colleagues after a fatality.
The third section, “Essentials,” outlines basic principles on the page’s topic. Below is material from “Essentials” on the “A death has affected me and my colleagues” page, and you are invited to take this sadod.org content for a test drive:
These principles and resources will help you take care of yourself and your colleagues immediately after a death, whether it occurs during an attempted rescue or under any circumstances that directly impact you:
- Do your part to ensure that all interactions and support are trauma-informed.
- Apply proven practices such as promoting safety, calm, connectedness, hope, and self-efficacy (personal empowerment).
- If you are at the scene of the death, do your part to acknowledge the gravity of what has happened.
- Employ coping tactics, such as normalizing reactions, stepping away from the scene, breathing mindfully, scanning your body, visualizing a safe place, or practicing affirmative self-talk.
- Engage in self-help activities that have short-term and long-term benefits, such as those recommended by Riverside Trauma Center and the National Center for PTSD.
- Make meaningful connections with colleagues and others who are able to share in a safe, mutually helpful way about the effects fatalities have on you.
- Seek professional assistance and support, including clinical supervision if it is available to you.