The Center for Emergency Psychological Aid is a chief organization of the Russian Emergencies Ministry’s Psychological Service. The Center was established on 17 September 1999, creating the Psychological Service. The Candidate of Psychological Sciences Yulia Shoigu has been leading the Center and the Service since 2002.
The Russian Emergencies Ministry’s Psychological Service is a system of personnel and equipment, created to maintain psychological health of the personnel in emergencies. The service unites employees of the Center and its 8 branches, psychologists in the territorial bodies, fire and rescue units, paramilitary units, educational institutions and organizations – over 700 specialists all over Russia. They complete fundamental Emergencies Ministry’s functions – readiness to respond and prevent and mitigate emergencies.
PREVENTION OF EMERGENCY SITUATIONS
Propaganda of safety
The Russian Emergencies Ministry’s psychologists contribute to prevention of emergencies by propagating safety. The Psychological Service’s specialists organize and hold events to instruct the population on safe behavior in emergencies. The “Learn to save lives!” project, initiated by the Center for Emergency Psychological Aid in 2015, takes special place. Its purpose is to prove that first aid skills and psychological support are essential and they can be learned by everybody.
The “Human Element” competition is held every year within the “Learn to save lives” project to not only to propagate safety, but also teach youth to render first aid and psychological support. Teams from over 70 constituents of Russia take part in the competition.
Groups of volunteer-psychologists comprised from students were created in the Center for Emergency Psychological Aid in 2005 and later in its branches. These groups include students from Psychology Departments and Chairs from the best universities of Russia.
The Russian Emergencies Ministry’s psychologists train volunteers, so that they are able to instruct the population on prevention of emergencies and what to do if an emergency arises.
Volunteers also assist in the Russian Emergencies Ministry’s Helplines during emergencies.
Telephone helplines and online-service for emergency psychological aid
The Center’s specialists consult the population via phones or the Internet on a wide range of psychological problems, prioritizing crisis states of personality.
In pursuance of the Russian president’s order, the online service for emergency psychological aid www.psi.mchs.gov.ru was launched in 2009, which allows receiving remote qualified psychological aid. The Russian Emergencies Ministry’s psychologists developed their own technologies for online-consulting to provide full psychological support on any matters.
The web-site also serves as the framework for cooperation of the psychologists, working in the law-enforcement agencies and organizations, connected with emergencies.
Work in Public Council of Security and Law-Enforcement Psychologists Society
Joint efforts of the professional community are crucial for propagation of safety in public. For that reason, the Center for Emergency Psychological Aid is actively engaged into public work in the field of emergency psychology and support of the personnel.
The Public Council of the Security and Law-Enforcement Psychologists Society was created at the initiative of the Emergencies Ministry’s Center for Emergency Psychological Aid in 2011, later followed by opening regional offices in Khabarovsk, Krasnoyarsk, Yekaterinburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Rostov-on-Don, Saint Petersburg and Pyatigorsk.
Work of the Public Council is aimed at joining psychologists from different law-enforcement and security agencies to resolve a wide range of tasks within their professional activities. Meetings, round tables, seminars and other events that may benefit the psychological society are held at the Public Council’s initiative.
SUPPORTING OF RESPONDERS
Specialists of the Emergencies Ministry’s Psychological Service are constantly engaged into supporting the Ministry’s personnel’s psychological health. All efforts are divided into three categories: psychological and psychophysical diagnostics, psychological training, psychological prophylaxis and rehabilitation.
The very first case of the psychological support in the Emergencies Ministry took place in 2000 to establish cooperation between the psychologists and the Tsentrospas Team’s rescuers. Today, all Emergencies Ministry’s specialists receive psychological support: rescuers, firemen, divers, pilots, cynologists, doctors, mine rescuers and others.
All efforts are divided into three categories:
- Psychological and psychophysical diagnostics
- Psychological training
- Psychological prophylaxis and rehabilitation
- Psychological and psychophysical diagnostics
Psychodiagnostics require different kinds of psychological and psychophysical researches. The Center’s specialists developed, selected and adapted psychodiagnostics methods for professional psychological screening in the Emergencies Ministry. Considering peculiarities of activities, psychologists defined a list of psychological traits for every profession.
The Russian Emergencies Ministry’s psychologists conduct dynamic observation of the psychological state of the Ministry’s employees during service (work, study) to detect and define the extent of psychological consequences, connected with professional activities. According to the standards, psychodiagnostics checkup of employees in all the Emergencies Ministry’s divisions must be carried out at least once every two years. Additionally, upon ending relief operations, all responders must undergo post-expeditionary checkup. Psychologists developed a system for detecting disadaptive states and stresses. Upon finishing the checkup, psychologists give advice on ways and forms of rehabilitation.
Psychological training is included into the general professional training of specialists in the Emergencies Ministry and carried out on all of its stages. Psychology courses are included into all curriculums of the Emergencies Ministry’s universities, professional training courses, as well as training of on-duty Officers and guards.
The objective of the psychological training is not only to give knowledge, form necessary skills and abilities that allow efficiently complete professional tasks and properly interact with affected people, but also protect psychological state of specialists, working in extreme conditions.
Psychological prophylaxis and rehabilitation
Medical and psychological rehabilitation in the Emergencies Ministry is an actively developing area of activities, included into the single system for psychological support of the Emergencies Ministry’s personnel.
Medical and psychological rehabilitation includes medical and psychological parts. Medical part consists of general health-improving programs, aimed at keeping professional health of the Emergencies Ministry’s specialists. Implementation of these programs is carried out in the Center for Emergency Psychological Aid and medical and psychological rehabilitation departments of its branches that have modern psychophysical and rehabilitation equipment.
The department for medical and psychological rehabilitation and restorative medicine of the Center for Emergency Psychological Aid, based in the SpasatelRecreationCenter was opened in 2014, providing wide range of restorative and rehabilitation programs, based on modern achievements of psychology and medicine.
Modern psychophysical equipment allows carrying out specialized psychological intervention programs for the employees in psychoemotional relief rooms in the Emergencies Ministry’s offices.
Psychoemotional relief rooms have a set of psychophysical equipment that provides fast and efficient recovery of specialists.
The main objective of preventive and corrective efforts is to prevent or decrease risks of negative consequences, connected with professional activities, as well as eliminate existing problems and states that hinder successful completion of professional tasks.
DEALING WITH EMERGENCY SITUATIONS
Rendering of emergency psychological aid is an integral part in dealing with emergencies, featuring human casualties, injuries, economic damage, threat to lives and health of humans.
Since 1999 the Russian Emergencies Ministry’s psychologists are rendering emergency psychological aid to the injured in emergencies all over the county. Experience, gathered by specialists of the Psychological Service allowed creating a single system for immediate and efficient emergency psychological aid to the injured in local and international emergencies.
The main tasks for the Emergencies Ministry’s psychologists is to stabilize the psychological state of the injured, decrease the risk of massive negative reactions, prevent long-term psychological afflictions for the injured due to experienced traumatizing events.
Psychologists also provide aid during evacuation of people from armed conflict zones and emergencies, as well as during accommodation in temporary shelters.
Since 2006 psychologists use technologies of remote aid during emergencies, such as helplines. Psychologists not only answer the phones and consult people, but always keep in touch with the relatives of the killed and injured to timely inform them about the situation and further actions.
In the context of further development of the psychological aid system a law was passed in 2012 that allows psychologists from the SSDMS-affiliated organizations to render emergency and prolonged psychological aid to the injured in accidents and fires. This approach allowed systematizing involvement of psychologists from exterior organizations during emergencies, finding the specialists for the job, carrying out necessary instructions for them to render efficient emergency psychological aid and developing a system of passing the injured for further prolonged psychological aid.
The Psychological Service’s specialists respond to emergencies over 140 times a month. From 1999 to 2017, the Emergencies Ministry’s psychologists helped the injured in over 100 major federal-scale emergencies and took part in over 40 international humanitarian operations.
The Center’s specialists take part not only in international humanitarian operations, but civil defense and emergency drills, science conferences, practices, symposiums and seminars. As of today, the Emergencies Ministry cooperates with 50 countries in the field of psychological aid.
The Emergencies Ministry’s Center for Emergency Psychological Aid closely cooperates with the universities of Russia. The Extreme and Emergency Situations Psychology Department was opened in the LomonosovMoscowStateUniversity in 2016. The professors of this department are the Emergencies Ministry’s psychologists.