K9 First Responder teams often respond within a framework known as “Disaster Behavioral Health Response Team.”
Teams are managed at the state level by the Program Director of Disaster Behavioral Health Services and managed locally by clinical team leaders. These teams are deployed through the state emergency management system.
Members are trained to respond to the emotional needs of disaster victims, responders, or community members in local, state, or nationally declared disasters or traumatic incidents requiring a behavioral health response.
State Crisis Coordinators have identified common team member qualities:
Energetic– have the capacity and stamina to deal with large numbers of survivors with a broad range of problems and remain active in the face of stress.
Mature– able to maintain their own identity and values while working with others.
Flexible– has the capacity to deal with changing situations, which cannot, at least be temporarily fixed.
Focused– able to figure out with the survivor what is most important at that moment and effectively address it.
Empathetic– has the ability to listen and to convey caring.
Creative– have the capacity to think on their feet, problem solve sometimes in an improvisational manner and mobilize environmental resources.
Positive– a sense of confidence, able to help survivors celebrate the small victories on the long road to recovery and possess an optimistic yet realistic view of life.
Non-traditional– able to work in a variety of environments when and where needed.
Available– able to give of one’s time and energy sufficiently to do the job.
A team player– has the capacity to become part of a synergistic team, including other community emergency response partners and work with in the incident command structure.
A self-starter– shows initiative and able to work independently while staying within the overall guidelines of the Plan.
Tolerant– of others with different values and/or from different cultures and be able to work with a diverse clientele.
Sensitive– to the needs of others and able to monitor/manage their own stress.
Function– in confusing and often chaotic environments.
Comfortable– initiating a conversation in any community setting and able to “be with” survivors who may be suffering tragedy and enormous loss.
Committed– to respect the privacy and confidentiality of survivors, not inclined to gossip.