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Maine Health Care Coalition Partners with CDC Public Health Emergency Preparedness Team to Provide Psychological First Aid Training Courses

August 2021


After a comprehensive survey indicated that Maine Health Care Coalition members were unable to administer psychological first aide, Maine’s Disaster Behavioral Health Coordinator partnered with Maine’s Health Care Coalition (HCC) to train HCC members. The training equipped Maine HCC members, such as response volunteers, health care workers, and emergency responders, with the skills and knowledge to administer psychological first aid during a disaster response. Following the course, participants reported that they felt more prepared to provide psychological first aid to people in their communities, support other responders, and use self-care techniques.

The collaboration between Maine’s HCC and Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP)​ teams filled a gap in preparedness, and equipped first responders to provide comprehensive care to survivors through both medical and psychological first-aid treatment. Additionally, by providing self-care techniques for first responders to monitor their own mental health, the training emphasized the importance of first responders’ mental health, fostering a culture of wellbeing and self-care within a high-stress environment.


In April 2021, the Maine health care coalition sent out an emergency response, safety, and wellness survey to its members. The results of the survey identified a clear gap in comprehensive preparedness: a lack of psychological first aid training. Additionally, members expressed their inability to maintain self-care and resilience in times of extreme stress, seen through the COVID-19 response and other emergency response situations.

To address this gap in preparedness, the Maine HCC partnered with Maine’s Disaster Behavioral Health Coordinator, a member of the state’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) PHEP team, to host two virtual Psychological First Aid training courses for HCC members.

Psychological first aid is designed to be used to help reduce the stress caused by traumatic events, such as a disaster or a major infectious disease outbreak. Use of psychological first aid can help survivors cope with near-term stress and helps improve long-term recovery. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused stress in communities across the country, making the need for trained responders more important than ever before.

Preparedness Activities:

The three-hour virtual training, led by Maine’s Disaster Behavioral Health Coordinator, was designed to highlight the first aid aspect of mental health care before, during, and after a disaster or emergency.

The course content was comprised of eight different modules that outlined various emergency response situations, highlighting the ideal language to use and approaches to take when working with an individual experiencing psychological distress. Participants also received training to support their own mental health, offering self-care techniques for emergency responders to use before, during, and after a disaster. In addition to the virtual training, course participants received supplementary resources such as additional training modules, tips, and leading psychological first-aid research, to help them provide comprehensive care during a disaster response.

More Information: To learn more about Maine’s Disaster Behavioral Health Program, visit the Maine Disaster Behavioral Health webpage or review the resource webpage.