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Texas Emergency Management ONLINE 2017 Vol. 64 No. 12

Texas Crisis Resiliency Team (TCRT) is a faith based organization that provides training to Spiritual Care Providers and emotional and spiritual support to trauma survivors following disasters and other traumatic events. The TCRT is a member of the Texas Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD) and follows the National VOAD Disaster Spiritual Care Guidelines1 and Points of Consensus for Disaster Spiritual Care.2

Disaster spiritual care is part of an integrated response to the needs of disaster survivors. Needs of the survivors might include medical, lodging, financial, psychological, and restoration of their living environment. Disaster spiritual care is part of a holistic model of care for the disaster survivors. The physical, spiritual and emotional needs of survivor must all be addressed. Spiritual care does little good if the survivor needs medical attention or does not have food or lodging. The reverse is also true. Caring for the physical needs is ineffective if the survivors do not have the emotional and spiritual strength to rebuild their lives.

The spiritual care provider is often a member of a team providing physical recovery efforts. Following a flood, volunteer disaster recovery teams from faith groups might assist by cleaning out a home of mud and remove debris so the home owner can start recovery. After a fire or tornado another team might cut and remove damaged or fallen trees. The spiritual care provider focuses on the emotional and spiritual needs of the survivor, while the rest of the team focuses on physical needs. The spiritual care provider not only encourages the survivor, but also allows others to focus on their recovery efforts.

The purpose of the TCRT is to encourage emotional and spiritual resiliency among survivors by assisting them to cope with challenges and restore hope. The TCRT strives to show respect to all cultural and religious traditions and assists trauma survivors from all cultural and religious traditions. The intent is to work alongside those from other cultural and religious traditions to help trauma survivors. We share a common desire to encourage and assist trauma survivors to recover and cope with the challenges of their new situations.

There are also a significant number of other organizations providing emotional and spiritual care in disasters. Many of them have their own training and credentialing process. The TCRT is not designed to supplant or undermine the work of any of these groups. The TCRT offers Disaster Spiritual Care (DSC) training for anyone desiring to assist trauma survivors. While there are differences between response groups, the goal following traumatic events is to work together to assist trauma survivors.

While there are differences between response groups, the goal following traumatic events is to work together to assist trauma survivors.

The primary training on Disaster Spiritual Care is a three-day training that includes these topics and how they impact providing Disaster Spiritual Care:

  • Encouragement Through Listening
  • Loss and Grief
  • Traumatic Stress
  • Spiritual First Aid
  • Religious Diversity
  • Cultural Diversity
  • Death Notification
  • Suicide
  • Children
  • Elderly
  • Media
  • Caregiver Resiliency

These training topics are organized in modules and can be easily adapted to the training needs of various crisis response teams. The TCRT has developed this training and is in the process of publishing a training manual on Disaster Spiritual Care.3

Members of TCRT and TDEM VAL

San Antonio International Airport Disaster Exercise July 19, 2017 Members of TCRT and TDEM VAL

Spiritual care providers from the TCRT will deploy to provide spiritual care to trauma survivors when requested by community leaders. Spiritual care providers trained in Disaster

Spiritual Care are strongly encouraged to be members of other disaster response teams such as Texas Baptist Men or local crisis response teams. Members of the TCRT often deploy with other teams and provide spiritual care.

An excellent example of how the TCRT works was demonstrated in a disaster exercise with the San Antonio International Airport on July 19, 2017. The San Antonio VOAD has an Emotional and Spiritual Care Team and the members of this team are also members of the TCRT. The San Antonio VOAD worked with the emergency managers at the San Antonio International Airport, the Red Cross, and a variety of other organizations to plan the disaster exercise.

The focus was on providing for the needs of survivors, family members and friends following a simulated airplane crash at the airport. The greatest value of this exercise was that it facilitated the cooperation between local groups who might need to respond to real disasters. Following a similar exercise in 2014, there was a fire at a senior adult complex and many of those who had participated in the exercise responded to help survivors. While we hope there is no similar disaster in the San Antonio area, the local organizations are now better prepared to respond when needed.

The TCRT would like to provide training on Disaster Spiritual Care to any group needing the training and willing to host the training. For more information on hosting a training contact:

Dan Franklin
Tel: 210-842-8221

Webpage: Texas Crisis Resiliency Team



1 National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters, "National VOAD Disaster Spiritual Care Guideline," accessed July 24, 2017, http://www.nvoad.org/wp-content/uploads/dlm_uploads/2014/04/national_voad_
disaster_spiritual_care_guidelines__final.pdf.

2 National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters, "Disaster Spiritual Care," accessed July 24, 2017, http://www.nvoad.org/wp-content/uploads/dlm_uploads/2014/04/POC_DisasterSpiritualCare.pdf.

3 Disaster Spiritual Care: A Training Manual for Spiritual Care Providers, Dan Franklin, ed. (2017). NOTE: Expected publication Fall 2017.

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