Fear can paralyze, uncertainty can make even the smartest persons dumb being unable to fulfill the simplest sequence of actions. The appearance of dead people in the midst of disastrous events can put the bravest characters into the deepest frustration. This is hardly possible for ordinary people to keep instant readiness for natural or manmade disasters and their catastrophic effects in most cases.
Rescue practice proves that survivors get traumatic experience regardless the nature and severity of the disastrous events they are involved. In general, the emergency preparedness is rarely included in a day-to-day routine of people unless they live in hazardous areas.
Professional firefighters and emergency physicians often admit that despite their training and experience they cannot get used to see people’s suffering and distress resulting from the large-scale calamities. If professionals barely can control their emotions, let alone a wide audience.
Post-disaster effects: physical vs psychological
The specialized governmental authorities, army, NGO, and volunteers are involved in assisting victims of disruptive events. In most cases, the physical consequences of disasters are clear enough to push the local and international organizations developing straightforward plans and agenda of the infrastructure rehabilitation.
If nothing extraordinary interferes (like a recurrence of the natural disaster or warfare), the affected areas’ infrastructure can be rebuilt rather soon along with the law order re-establishing.
The contemporary construction technologies can cope with any devastating consequences in case of timely and sufficient funding and the advanced crisis management. Nevertheless, the psychological aftermath can affect survivors far longer than reconstruction period of their habitations lasts.
Besides, the declining emotional and psychological state of survivors can interfere negatively the mere reconstruction procedures.
Psychological First Aid
Established by Congress in 2000, The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) together with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) have developed a special modular approach to help children, adolescents, adults and families in the immediate aftermath of disaster and terrorism.
The approach is called Psychological First Aid (PFA). It is designed to reduce the distress caused by traumatic events and to improve adaptation and coping. The basic principles and standards of PFA training are described in the Psychological First Aid Field Operations Guide. In order to improve the mobility and providing the in-field guidance for mental health providers, the abovementioned organizations have developed the PFA Mobile free app available via Google Play and the iStore.
Ukrainian survivors can rely on the local solution
Such an experience is worthwhile for Ukraine being dragged into the post-Maidan conflict in Donbass region. The constantly simmering crisis forces thousands of families out of their native areas making them refugees. Those who remain to stay in the warfare zone are exposed to daily indiscriminate shelling resulting in civilian casualties.
The relevance of the survivors psychological disarray and the ongoing anti-terrorist operation has motivated Indeema Software Co. and “Development Foundation” Civilian Organization to develop a Ukrainian version of the PFA mobile application.
See also: HOW SAFE IS SOFTWARE OUTSOURCING TO UKRAINE?
In fact, the idea of a Ukrainian version of the app came to a group of Ukrainian interpreters and psychologists of Yale University in August 2014. Later on, during Lviv Mobile Café event held on September 25, 2014, volunteers invited Indeema to participate in the development of the IT part of the app. Hence, Indeema has attended the project being enough experienced in assisting Ukrainian army. The copyright holders of PFA have authorized the “Development Foundation” Civilian Organization for using the content of the project to perform the Ukrainian version.
In common with the American analog, PFA Mobile Ukraine app represents the guideline and recommendations to provide certain specific age or population groups with psychological first aid for coping up the distress and anxiety.
The app is available free via Google Play and the iStore being dedicated to both mental health providers and civilian and military survivors.
Functionality provides efficiency
The PFA Mobile Ukraine app has a well-organized design providing information intelligibly in simple terms in order to make it comprehensible for an average person. The ‘home’ page contains six categories from which a user can get information about PFA; learn about core actions for handling a response; get advice how to deal with stress for survivors of different ages; use self-care tool for PFA providers; find guidance how to track a survivor's needs etc.
The calm and collected tone of the entire content of the app is important to maintain the correct emergency response in stressful situations. The acceptable minimum of textual information provides the sufficient virtual usability in situations requiring quick actions. Limiting information to what is most essential and applicable allows avoiding textual overwhelming that is useful for a multitude of response situations. The app is adapted for using in different community settings such as schools, shelters, disaster centers and so on.
Of course, different events may require additional information that is not included in the app content. However, the main goal of the solution is to represent the general guidance through PFA approaches sufficient to react accordingly in a majority of emergencies.
Being designed as a rather specialized tool, the PFA Mobile app nevertheless can support in eliminating of broadly humanitarian negative aspects having far-reaching socio-political outcomes. The civilization challenges caused by disastrous events may lead to both the building of the nation in the face of a threat and the dismantlement due to increasing of a State’s instability.
Sometimes, in order to satisfy certain self-interests, irresponsible politicians attempt to marginalize those formerly wealthy citizens who under pressure from post-disastrous obstacles have realized they have nothing left to lose.
Such manipulative efforts can be reinforced with the prevailing mental chaos among survivors who may look for a person or an institution to be accused of all calamities happened. Psychological trauma symptoms comprise the very target of the PFA mobile app in order to relieve social tensions or at least prevent their exacerbation.
Citizenship is to prevail
The represented mobile application can hardly be admitted as a unique standalone solution. The similar analogs are available on the app stores. However, in contrast to a majority of commercial products, the PFA Mobile Ukraine app is free for customers downloading. Besides it has been developed free of charge by Indeema Software Co. because the civic responsibility and social values appreciation are inherent in the Company.
Even though an American prototype of the app was available, Indeema invested significant intellectual and labor capital into the development of the app to make it meeting the highest International standards. Clearly realizing the feasibility and a great potential demand for the app in Ukrainian society, Indeema has prioritized the mission postponing all other projects. Civil society initiatives should dominate over the business while the current sociopolitical situation invokes. The citizenship approach applied to the development of PFA Mobile Ukraine app demonstrates the right path towards the healing of society.