While disaster workers stand at the frontline, their supervisors take care of management and support. Both tasks are key to the efficiency and sustainability of rescue efforts, which in turn affects the overall success of the operation. To care for your team and make the most of the rescue efforts, consider the following suggestions:
Arrange appropriate working time for each worker. Each shift should not exceed 12 hours, with short breaks in between from time to time. This can prevent workers from burning out, thereby compromising work efficiency.
Rotate workers among low, moderate, and high-stress tasks. Avoid persistent assignment of high-stress tasks to particular staff members.
Ensure adequate manpower in each unit, including administrators, supervisors and supporting staff.
Monitor workers' performance. Identify any unusual stress reactions, especially for those who have undergone tremendous changes in life, as well as those who are recently under stress.
New workers may not be ready to handle emergencies alone; they should be paired-up with other more well-trained and experienced colleagues.
Whenever possible, staff should work in groups of two or more to allow a check-and-balance system within the team, so that they can make better need assessment, decision making and priority setting in emergency situations. Team members can also keep an eye on the stress level of each other and offer suitable support or assistance when necessary.
Commanders also need periodic breaks to reduce the chance of making mistakes.
Once emergency workers are ready to leave the disaster scene, arrange a quiet place for them to take a rest. Provide food and drinks and give them a chance to express their feelings.