During large-scale, sudden-onset disasters, resscue personnel experience severe stress due to the brief window of opportunity for saving lives. Following the earthquake in Haiti, rescue personnel worked in Port-au-Prince under harsh conditions in order to save lives and extricate bodies. Reactions to this disaster among rescue personnel were examined using self-report questionnaires. Correlations between psychosocial factors and psychological trauma (dissociation and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms) were examined in a sample of 20 rescue personnel who worked in Haiti. The study indicated that negative affect and crisis of meaning were associated with higher levels of dissociative and PTSD symptoms. The results suggest that rescue personnel who are overwhelmed by the destruction and number of bodies being extricated may exhibit negative affect and loss of meaning along with dissociative and PTSD symptoms.
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