Managing trauma

As a Sydney Trains/NSW TrainLink employee you are more likely to experience a workplace traumatic incident than in many other types of industries. Working in the rail system is an area of high risk and there is a strong likelihood that you will experience a traumatic incident at work. Reactions to traumatic events are normal and you need to appreciate that we all react and cope in different ways.

In this topic you'll learn how to:

identify the causes and symptoms of trauma
describe the emotional, physical and social effects of trauma
apply coping and recovery strategies before, during and after a traumatic event
access support services available to employees who are involved in traumatic events.


Activity: St James reality scenario


  1. Watch the two St James reality scenario videos.
  2. Take notice and record your reactions during both the “bad” and “good” scenario.
  3. What did you observe during the scenarios?


In this topic you will explore how to ‘C.O.P.E’ with trauma by:

C – discovering the specific traumatic incidents that you may experience that could cause traumatic reaction

O – looking at the ways the mind and body react to traumatic events (the physical and emotional outcomes)

P – exploring strategies to adopt Pre and Post a traumatic event (to build resilience and to recover quickly)

E – looking at employee and employer responses following a traumatic event (reporting process, assistance programs etc)

A traumatic life event can be defined as an incident or situation that causes you to feel that your life, or another’s, is in immediate danger, or in which someone is killed or suffers significant injuries. An event which typically causes trauma is unexpected and takes unusual physical or emotional resources to cope.

Many events can lead to trauma. Some are public events that have the potential to affect many people, such as war, cyclones etc. Some are individual events that may affect only a handful of people, such as being a victim of crime. Knowing the types of incidents that might occur can help you to prepare for dealing emotionally with such events.

Activity: Traumatic events - How would you cope?


The images below depict some typical traumatic events that could be experienced within the rail industry.

As you view them take notice of the reactions that you have. Think about and analyse:


  • How you feel when you see the event (what does it do to you physically and emotionally?)
  • How would you cope if you witnessed the event? What do you think your reaction would be?
  • What emotional or social responses might be triggered in the person/people involved?

These images are quite graphic and may cause you to feel shocked or overwhelmed. However, the reality is that you could witness any one of these whilst working at our stations.

Next, you will explore the physical, emotional and social outcomes that traumatic events have on those involved.

When you experience critical events or trauma you react. As a human being your physical, emotional and social self is thrown out of normal balance. Below are some examples of emotional, social and physical reactions to these types of events.

NORMAL reactions to ABNORMAL events

Emotional
Social
Physical
Anxiety, worry, tension and apprehensiveness
Withdrawal
Vomiting and fainting
Irritability and aggression
Picking on or bullying others
Screaming, crying and hitting out
Confusion and forgetfulness
finding faults
Feelings of tiredness and impaired concentration and memory
Depression and tearfulness
Difficulties finding a partner
Persistently re-experiencing the event
Apathy and indecision
Alcohol and substance abuse
Avoiding similar stimuli
Fatigue and concentration loss

Increased state of 'arousal'


The stress response

When people experience a traumatic event they may find themselves undergoing an extreme stress response, commonly referred to as 'fight or flight'.

This stress may result in the physiological changes, including:

  • increase blood clotting and increase heart rate
  • blood is diverted to major muscle groups. May lead to being pale with fright
  • large muscle groups tense ready for action
  • less saliva
  • increase mental alertness
  • respiration rate increases to draw more oxygen
  • liver releases sugar to produce “quick energy”
  • sweating increases to cool body.

Remember:

  • traumatic events cause a 'jolt' where you are disturbed from your usual pattern of functioning. How you react and for how long depends upon a range of factors
  • you could go into immediate shock or you could cope well at the time but go into delayed shock after the event
  • everyone is different - you may react to one traumatic event quite differently to another event at a different time
  • two people may be involved in similar events, or even the same event, and react in very different ways.

There is a common process that usually occurs when someone experiences a trauma known as the Response Curve.

  1. Before a traumatic event you are going along in your usual way.
  2. The Response Curve begins when a traumatic event occurs. Your reaction disturbs your usual level of balance. Note: How you react physically, emotionally and socially will vary.
  3. Commonly, you will move through stages of shock, denial, anger, acceptance and recovery before beginning to recover.


Positive strategies you can employ before, during and after traumatic event to assist recovery

While it is not always possible to prevent traumatic events from happening, we can aid our own recovery process. There are some things we can do before, during and after the traumatic event that can greatly assist in our recovery.

Before
During
After
Understanding
Follow safety and operation procedures
Diet and Exercise
Preparation
Do one thing at a time
Control personal stress
Health
Be systematic
Talk – share feelings
Relaxation
Involve a senior person as soon as possible
Stress Management
Communication
Don’t try to meet false expectation
Patience and Time
Attitudes and expectations

Awareness
Education

Counselling


Post Incident support is available to Sydney Trains and NSW TrainLink employees 24 hrs, 7 days a week by phoning the Sydney Trains EAP Helpline on 1300 364 213. This service can be provided by referral from your immediate manager or by self-referral.

For more information, refer to the following:


Remember:

  • Sometimes you may not be the one that witnesses a traumatic event at your station - sometimes it might be your colleagues.
  • Reactions to a traumatic event are different for each person.
  • It is important to allow a person who has been involved in a traumatic event to work their way through their recovery.
  • Telling someone you know what they’re going through, or you know how they feel, may not prove to be of any value to them. Listen to what they are saying, reinforce your support and allow them to work through their recovery.
  • If you experience a traumatic event don’t be hard on yourself to deal with it in a certain way, in a certain time. You have a guide to the strategies you can use, including seeking help from others. For many, using a counsellor is a good idea after a traumatic incident – they can provide assurance that you are responding normally.

As a Sydney Trains/NSW TrainLink employee you are more likely to experience a workplace traumatic incident than in many other types of industries. Working in the rail system is an area of high risk and there is a strong likelihood that you will experience a traumatic incident at work. Reactions to traumatic events are normal and you need to appreciate that we all react and cope in different ways.

In this topic you'll learn how to:

identify the causes and symptoms of trauma
describe the emotional, physical and social effects of trauma
apply coping and recovery strategies before, during and after a traumatic event
access support services available to employees who are involved in traumatic events.


Activity: St James reality scenario


  1. Watch the two St James reality scenario videos.
  2. Take notice and record your reactions during both the “bad” and “good” scenario.
  3. What did you observe during the scenarios?


In this topic you will explore how to ‘C.O.P.E’ with trauma by:

C – discovering the specific traumatic incidents that you may experience that could cause traumatic reaction

O – looking at the ways the mind and body react to traumatic events (the physical and emotional outcomes)

P – exploring strategies to adopt Pre and Post a traumatic event (to build resilience and to recover quickly)

E – looking at employee and employer responses following a traumatic event (reporting process, assistance programs etc)

A traumatic life event can be defined as an incident or situation that causes you to feel that your life, or another’s, is in immediate danger, or in which someone is killed or suffers significant injuries. An event which typically causes trauma is unexpected and takes unusual physical or emotional resources to cope.

Many events can lead to trauma. Some are public events that have the potential to affect many people, such as war, cyclones etc. Some are individual events that may affect only a handful of people, such as being a victim of crime. Knowing the types of incidents that might occur can help you to prepare for dealing emotionally with such events.

Activity: Traumatic events - How would you cope?


The images below depict some typical traumatic events that could be experienced within the rail industry.

As you view them take notice of the reactions that you have. Think about and analyse:


  • How you feel when you see the event (what does it do to you physically and emotionally?)
  • How would you cope if you witnessed the event? What do you think your reaction would be?
  • What emotional or social responses might be triggered in the person/people involved?

These images are quite graphic and may cause you to feel shocked or overwhelmed. However, the reality is that you could witness any one of these whilst working at our stations.

Next, you will explore the physical, emotional and social outcomes that traumatic events have on those involved.

When you experience critical events or trauma you react. As a human being your physical, emotional and social self is thrown out of normal balance. Below are some examples of emotional, social and physical reactions to these types of events.

NORMAL reactions to ABNORMAL events

Emotional
Social
Physical
Anxiety, worry, tension and apprehensiveness
Withdrawal
Vomiting and fainting
Irritability and aggression
Picking on or bullying others
Screaming, crying and hitting out
Confusion and forgetfulness
finding faults
Feelings of tiredness and impaired concentration and memory
Depression and tearfulness
Difficulties finding a partner
Persistently re-experiencing the event
Apathy and indecision
Alcohol and substance abuse
Avoiding similar stimuli
Fatigue and concentration loss

Increased state of 'arousal'


The stress response

When people experience a traumatic event they may find themselves undergoing an extreme stress response, commonly referred to as 'fight or flight'.

This stress may result in the physiological changes, including:

  • increase blood clotting and increase heart rate
  • blood is diverted to major muscle groups. May lead to being pale with fright
  • large muscle groups tense ready for action
  • less saliva
  • increase mental alertness
  • respiration rate increases to draw more oxygen
  • liver releases sugar to produce “quick energy”
  • sweating increases to cool body.

Remember:

  • traumatic events cause a 'jolt' where you are disturbed from your usual pattern of functioning. How you react and for how long depends upon a range of factors
  • you could go into immediate shock or you could cope well at the time but go into delayed shock after the event
  • everyone is different - you may react to one traumatic event quite differently to another event at a different time
  • two people may be involved in similar events, or even the same event, and react in very different ways.

There is a common process that usually occurs when someone experiences a trauma known as the Response Curve.

  1. Before a traumatic event you are going along in your usual way.
  2. The Response Curve begins when a traumatic event occurs. Your reaction disturbs your usual level of balance. Note: How you react physically, emotionally and socially will vary.
  3. Commonly, you will move through stages of shock, denial, anger, acceptance and recovery before beginning to recover.


Positive strategies you can employ before, during and after traumatic event to assist recovery

While it is not always possible to prevent traumatic events from happening, we can aid our own recovery process. There are some things we can do before, during and after the traumatic event that can greatly assist in our recovery.

Before
During
After
Understanding
Follow safety and operation procedures
Diet and Exercise
Preparation
Do one thing at a time
Control personal stress
Health
Be systematic
Talk – share feelings
Relaxation
Involve a senior person as soon as possible
Stress Management
Communication
Don’t try to meet false expectation
Patience and Time
Attitudes and expectations

Awareness
Education

Counselling


Post Incident support is available to Sydney Trains and NSW TrainLink employees 24 hrs, 7 days a week by phoning the Sydney Trains EAP Helpline on 1300 364 213. This service can be provided by referral from your immediate manager or by self-referral.

For more information, refer to the following:


Remember:

  • Sometimes you may not be the one that witnesses a traumatic event at your station - sometimes it might be your colleagues.
  • Reactions to a traumatic event are different for each person.
  • It is important to allow a person who has been involved in a traumatic event to work their way through their recovery.
  • Telling someone you know what they’re going through, or you know how they feel, may not prove to be of any value to them. Listen to what they are saying, reinforce your support and allow them to work through their recovery.
  • If you experience a traumatic event don’t be hard on yourself to deal with it in a certain way, in a certain time. You have a guide to the strategies you can use, including seeking help from others. For many, using a counsellor is a good idea after a traumatic incident – they can provide assurance that you are responding normally.

Tell your story

You need to be signed in to share your story.

  • There are no stories to display. Why don't you share one?
Page last updated: 14 June 2018, 09:44