Loma Linda, California, USA | Jonathan Gallagher / ANN

In a world increasingly troubled by disasters, both natural and man-made, a team of specialists is forming to meet the inner needs of those caught up in such traumatic events. The plan for the International Behavorial Health Trauma Team (IBHTT) is to respond in crisis intervention mode whenever called upon to assist in the aftermath of disaster and tragedy.

“We’re looking to provide training and support for critical incidents, working through world relief organizations,” says coordinator Dr. Beverley Buckles, chair of Social Work at Loma Linda University. “We want to interact with them to complement their services in aiding those affected by trauma.”

The 30-member team is believed to be the first of its type in the world to directly address trauma from a multi-disciplinary approach, and it is made up of psychiatrists, psychologists, marriage and family therapists, social workers, nurses, physical therapists and occupational therapists.

The team, based at the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Loma Linda University and Medical Center, has been established in the words of its own manifesto “to address the educational and clinical needs of Adventist and non-Adventist professionals, clergy as well as other identified disaster relief workers responsible for intervening with individuals, families, small groups and communities experiencing the traumas of catastrophic natural disasters or war.”

“The concept is to become involved in the immediate consequences of mass trauma, to help those directly affected and to also deal with the secondary trauma of the healthcare and aid workers who are impacted by the trauma of others,” Buckles continues. “A team of around six members would typically be involved, working from five to ten days to provide help and training in techniques to deal with such trauma. In many incidents, such assistance and support is just as vital as the practical medical help and physical re-building, for some are so traumatized they are unable to function and assist with reconstruction.”

The Trauma Team is now on standby and prepared to respond to crises worldwide, making a practical contribution to the humanitarian, educational, and health development needs which the Adventist Church sees as vital to its world ministry.