PFA & MHFA: What are the differences?

We often meet individuals who want to help after a school shooting or other community tragedy. People are hurting; not just physically but emotionally as well. They want to help their community and sometimes offer “I have been trained in Mental Health First Aid.”

It is important to understand which protocol is best suited to meeting the needs of those impacted and not inadvertently causing more harm. This can be difficult if one does not understand the intended uses and differences of two common mental health support teachings.

Psychological First Aid (PFA) is a technique for assisting people in the immediate aftermath of a traumatic incident or disaster. PFA is designed to reduce the occurrence of Post-traumatic stress injury (PTSI; an injury to one’s psyche that can develop after a person is exposed to a traumatic event).

The basic principle of PFA is that, in the immediate aftermath of the traumatic event, support from a trained compassionate individual may aid in long-term recovery. PFA is not focused on any mental health diagnosis and works to prevent change from occurring.

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) aims to teach participants how to recognize symptoms of mental health problems. MHFA educates people about how to identify, understand and help a person who may be developing a mental health issue. The idea being that providing MHFA offers initial support until appropriate professional help is received or until the mental health crisis is resolved.

MHFA has a broader focus. Mental health first aid is the help provided to a person who is developing a mental health problem, experiencing a worsening of a mental health problem, or in a mental health crisis. The first aid is given until appropriate professional help is received or to crisis resolves. Thus, it includes the full range of developing mental disorders and associated crises. In other words… dealing with a person who has an existing/developing condition.

To learn more, check out this video:

Secondary PTSD… What is it?

Armor Up

By Robert Rabe

Every critical incident has similarities, and differences.  In addition, every law enforcement officer’s reaction to an incident is individual as well.  Some officers go through the process of integrating the experience into their psyche without difficulty.  Usually this is with the help of others (peer group counseling, debriefings).  It is difficult to an effectively process an incident alone.  The family is one of the primary contacts for processing stressful incidents. But what can the family possibly do to help the officer?

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Petco Foundation Grant

Petco Foundation, Petco and Petco store partners awarded K9FR a $2500.00 grant in January 2017.  This grant was used to support our deployment to the Smyrna, DE prison uprising, siege and hostage taking/killing in February 2017.

K9FR spent 9 days inside the prison 24/7 meeting with staff, corrections officers, Correctional Emergency Response Team (CERT) and a hostage providing aid and comfort.  As well as responding to needs outside the facility.

Petco Foundation’s grant allowed our teams to be there as along as needed.  It is corporate support like this which enables K9FR to accomplish its mission without charging fees or passing along costs.  Thank you Petco Foundation, Petco and Petco store partners for your support!  You helped us help over 250 people impacted by that horrific event.

Note: Corporate support is very important to K9FR’s operation.  However, we choose not to acknowledge that support while on-scene or immediately after a horrific tragedy.  This is out of an abundance of caution.  We do not want to our benefactors to possibly be viewed as “trying to capitalize” on the media coverage of the moment.  Our corporate benefactors support K9FR, not out need for recognition, because they truly want to help make a difference.  Kindly take a moment to show them some support in return.

Meet our newest supporter!

Acadia Antlers and K9 Gizmo have teamed up to help raise money for K9 First Responders!  Click on this link for info.

Junos Place even held a “Spa Day” to start off this fundraising campaign!


The best part about Acadia Antlers products is…  they are All Natural.  Not made with any dangerous chemicals.  Safe, tested and best of all supports K9 First Responders 🙂

Walking in his shoes…


A marathon this runner never wants to run again…  Thank you Joshua for sharing this.

“These are my work shoes from Saturday night. They are brand new, not even a week old. I came to work this morning and saw these in the corner my call room, next to the pile of dirty scrubs.

I had forgotten about them until now. On these shoes, soaked between its fibers, is the blood of 54 innocent human beings. I don’t know which were straight, which were gay, which were black, or which were hispanic.

What I do know is that they came to us in wave upon wave of suffering, screaming, and death. And somehow, in that chaos, doctors, nurses, technicians, police, paramedics, and others, performed super human feats of compassion and care.

This blood, which poured out of those patients and soaked through my scrubs and shoes, will stain me forever. In these Rorschach patterns of red I will forever see their faces and the faces of those that gave everything they had in those dark hours.

There is still an enormous amount of work to be done. Some of that work will never end. And while I work I will continue to wear these shoes. And when the last patient leaves our hospital, I will take them off, and I will keep them in my office. I want to see them in front of me every time I go to work.

For on June 12, after the worst of humanity reared its evil head, I saw the best of humanity of come fighting right back. I never want to forget that night.”

Dr. Joshua Corsa M.D, EMT-P
Orlando Regional Medical Center
Senior Resident, Department of Surgery



No, we are not talking about the song from the musical Cats.  Memory, more specific memories, play an important role in a person’s resilience.  Those we work with share that they associate K9FR Teams with calm, safety and positive emotional feelings of hope after a tragedy.  That is one reason why early contact is important.

Althea Olson, LCSW, and Mike Wasilewski, MSW have written an informative article about understanding negative memories and making positive ones.  Well worth reading. Article