Template Field Operations Guide

Operational Briefing Checklist

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Operational Briefing Checklist

  1. Background

    • Distribute appropriate materials to the unit/team staff, including job action sheets, site maps, and event memos

    • Summarize the scenario or incident

    • Describe the overall layout of the site

    • Describe the flow of survivors and loved ones through the site

    • Reinforce information from Branch/Division Supervisor briefing

    • Review how to notify unit/team leader of medical and security emergencies

    • Describe the chain of command for staff members to follow

    • Describe the media policy

    • Clearly state you are the sole source of information, instructions and assistance

  2. Unit/Team Operations and Staff Responsibilities

    • Describe and show the layout of station

    • Identify what materials are used at the station

    • Identify any materials that will be distributed at this station

    • Ensure that all staff have a clear understanding of the materials to be used and / or distributed at the station, regardless of individual responsibility

    • Identify and describe the various staff positions required at the station

    • Have staff review their job action sheets

    • Clarify any ambiguous or unclear directions presented on the job action sheets

  3. Unit/Team Leader Responsibilities

    • Regulate tempo and direction of activities at the station

    • Inform staff of any information they need to know including task or event changes

    • Seek ongoing feedback on station operations

    • Address any situations that arise that staff cannot handle themselves

    • Ensure that staff have materials they need to perform their duties

    • Assign break times

    • Conduct unit debriefing at end of event

    • Present unit report during debriefing with Branch/Division Supervisor

    • Address any other concerns or issues identified by the staff

Psychological First Aid

Goal: Limit distress and negative health behaviors

Key: Provide practical help and support resilience


    • Have a compassionate presence with them

    • Active listening

    • Don’t push for information

    • Use stress management techniques

    • Be flexible and supportive

    • Comfort, console, soothe


    • Meet basic survival needs

    • Provide simple and accurate information

    • Repeat information as often as needed

    • Identify resources


    • Clarify disaster information

    • Engage towards meeting own needs

    • Guide toward what to expect, teach resilience

    • Work to ‘normal’ life activities

    • Exercise


    • Help connect friends and loved ones

    • Keep children with relatives

    • Ask questions

    • Make referrals as needed

Overall, people want to be heard!


  • Share your thoughts with someone you trust

  • Keep active with regular exercise

  • Eat properly balance diet – avoid food high in processed sugar

  • Avoid tobacco, alcohol, and illegal drugs which mask stress

  • Look for humor in a situation wherever you can

  • Help others as one can; don’t have an agenda

  • Maintain a regular routine with uninterrupted sleep cycles

  • Learn and use coping techniques including breathing and muscle relaxation


  • Check your readiness to respond before you go

  • Understand the nature of the request

  • Give consideration to your physical and emotional health

  • Use the support resources during response

  • Promote your own resiliency

  • Expect recovery period after an incident

  • Talk about your experiences

Remember, disaster trauma can:

  • Reduce the ability to concentrate

  • Disrupt attention span

  • Interfere with cognitive skills

  • Lead to regression in individuals and to less effective ways of coping


  • Assuming everyone needs to talk with you.

  • Forcing survivors to share their stories with you, especially very personal details.

  • Giving simple reassurances like “everything will be OK” or “at least you survived”.

  • Making assumptions about how you think survivors should be feeling, thinking or how they should have acted earlier.

  • Imposing personal beliefs or spiritual answers on survivors.

  • Making promises that may not be kept

  • Criticizing existing services or relief activities in front of people in need of these services.

When to Refer:

The following reactions, behaviors and symptoms signal a need for disaster behavioral health workers to consult with a supervisor, and in many cases, to sensitively refer the individual for further assistance.

  • Disorientation (dazed, significant memory loss, unable to give date/time or recall recent events)

  • Significant depression (pervasive feelings of hopelessness and despair, isolation or withdrawal from others)

  • Inability to care for self (not eating, bathing, changing clothes or managing daily needs)

  • Suicidal or homicidal thoughts or plans

  • Substance abuse

  • Domestic violence or child/elder abuse

When in doubt CONSULT with supervisors or local resources

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