Training people in giving practical, emotional support

New Zealand Red Cross aims to bridge this knowledge gap by launching a new programme to train people in providing psychological first aid (PFA). PFA enables people to provide practical and emotional short-term support for individuals, reduce distress and foster the ability to adapt following a disaster or emergency situation, such as an earthquake or traumatic event.

Secretary General Tony Paine says PFA is a proven approach to helping people affected by an emergency or traumatic event.

“At its core, PFA is about providing a safe, supportive response to someone who has just been through a sudden disaster and in need of support,” he says. “PFA helps people feel safe, connected to others, calm and hopeful, able to access physical, emotional, cultural and social support, and feel able to help themselves.”

“PFA is a useful skill for everyone to have up their sleeves in everyday circumstances. The reality is we cannot predict the next traumatic event or if it will affect those immediately around us. Just like physical first aid, we recommend PFA as a valuable tool that can make a huge difference to people’s lives. It’s especially helpful for people whose work might bring them into contact with people coping with emergencies like first responders and insurance assessors.”

Using the lessons learned from the Canterbury earthquakes

We developed the PFA training into a one-day practical workshop as part of the lessons learnt from working in Christchurch after the quakes. It is based on an internationally recognised best practice model developed by the World Health Organisation and World Vision, and endorsed by over 20 international humanitarian agencies. Red Cross disaster response team members now all receive the training.

The Australian Red Cross, New Zealand Psychological Society, Massey University Joint Centre for Disaster Research, Te Piringa o Te Awakairangi and Le Va all contributed to the training materials that have been recognised by the Ministry of Health.

To book

PFA training courses are priced comparably to one-day Red Cross First Aid courses. The eight-hour course costs $1275 (including GST) for the first 10 participants, then $90 per participant up to a maximum of 24 people. Email for booking enquiries.

Media enquiries

For more information or to arrange interviews contact:

Hanna Butler 

New Zealand Red Cross Communications Manager 

Phone: (04) 495 0139 Mobile: 027 836 5529