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The psychological impact of mass casualty incidents on first responders: A systematic review

Paula M. Morgan, BA, MPS


First responders are exposed to various types of disasters throughout their career. Because of their roles, they are often regarded as stronger people than individuals from other occupations. A systematic review of literature was conducted to determine if distinct characteristics exist that make first responders more susceptible to psychological trauma. Five categories of traits were found to put first responders at risk for psychological problems: personal, predisposing, peridisposing, postdisposing, and protective. To counteract the impact of psychological trauma, first responders need additional preincident psychological and resiliency training. Preparedness and awareness will help combat psychological impact from disasters and compassion fatigue.


homeland security, mass casualty incidents, emergency services, public health preparedness, PTSD

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