It is often difficult to determine which employees are
best suited for disaster deployment. If deployments are expected to extend for
more than a few weeks or to take place under extreme circumstances, mental
health considerations should be part of your decision making process. The
following list of mental health considerations may assist you, and the employee,
in making this important decision.
- When interviewing employees being considered for deployment, managers should
inform the employees that disaster deployments might be associated with
exacerbations of existing mental health issues. A history of previous trauma has
been associated with an increased risk of posttraumatic stress disorder.
Employees who express concern about these issues should be given an opportunity
to consult with a health care provider before deployment or consideration for
- A disaster deployment requires good team skills. An individual who has difficulty
working within a team or who has a tendency to blame others for poor results,
may not be a good choice for disaster deployment.
- Individuals who are considering deployment may benefit from a predeployment
briefing on the operational realities of deployment by experienced postdeployment
workers. If candidates are made aware of what to expect in terms of living
conditions, psychological stress, and job demands, they will be in a better
position to judge how they are likely to perform in a disaster environment.
- Workers who have physical limitations may still wish to deploy. With these
workers, consider deployments that may accommodate persons with physical
limitations, such as to the Joint Field Office. Managers might also offer
alternative roles for people who are not good candidates for deployment—this may
help to legitimize staying at their job, while still supporting the effort.
- It is important to acknowledge that disaster response is a total team effort.
Managers should express appreciation to the nondeployed workers who will often
assume additional duties when fellow workers are deployed.
The accompanying materials include documents that offer practical advice
directed to managers of workers who will deploy, or have deployed, to a disaster