Appiatse Explosion: 876 victims receiving psychological first aid

About 876 victims of the Appiatse Explosion, which killed 14 persons and injured 179 on January 20, 2022, are receiving Psychological First Aid (PFA).

An 11-member team comprising psychologists, psychiatrists and psychiatric nurses are in the community for the medical activity.

Psychological First Aid (PFA) is a technique to reduce the occurrence of post-traumatic stress disorder.

It is to help the victims become well informed about the associated and expected unusual behaviours following traumatic exposures and build their resilience.

It helps the therapist to identify victims of trauma needing further assessment and intervention.

Dr Sandra Thompson-Assan, a Counseling Psychologist, and leader of the team, told the Ghana News Agency that their engagement with the victims revealed that the entire community had experienced and was still experiencing some form of trauma.

She said the commonly reported symptoms included insomnia, body pains, loss of appetite, stressful dreams, flashbacks, stressful thought process and hearing difficulties.

“Either the person encountered the event directly or indirectly. “Being a part of the community, losing a loved one or significant other or being injured has greatly impacted the psychological wellbeing of the people of Appiatse,” Dr Thompson-Assan stated.

She said the committee was strategising to reach out to all the victims and affected persons.

Dr Thompson-Assan said pilot discussions were first held with selected victims to gain understanding of the extent of impact and how to effectively respond to the individual’s psychological needs.

She said the committee was engaging the people in six groups – bereaved families, injured victims, severely injured and hospitalised, neither injured nor bereaved and rescue team comprising the Police, the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO)officers, Fire Service and local rescue team.

Dr Thompson-Assan said the rationale for the initial group engagement was to collect information on the incident, the aftermath emotional reactions and how they planned to manage the situation.

Dr Thompson-Assan said the process was essential to help the team identify the victims’ unusual behaviour and maladaptive coping strategies needing further interventions.

She said victims who were experiencing insomnia, feeling worthless, having severe forms of flashbacks, stressful dreams, and distorted patterns of thinking were being referred to the psychiatrists for further assessment.

Dr Thompson-Assan said victims with body pains and headaches were also being referred to the camp nurses.

She said those who complained of poor feeding were being sent to the NADMO representative for assistance.

Dr Thompson-Assan said some victims had hearing challenges and said they would need another assessment from Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialists.

The explosion occurred along the Tarkwa-Bogoso-Ayamfuri road after a truck transporting mining explosives was involved in a crash.

Source: GNA

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