USD professors assisting the Red Cross in Africa Two faculty members from the Disaster Mental Health Institute at The University of South Dakota left May 3 for The Gambia, Africa, to help with crisis intervention following a request by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
DMHI Director Gerald Jacobs and USD Professor Teri Elliott will provide psychological support with the crisis intervention work involving 60 Red Cross volunteers in The Gambia, which is located in the western horn of Africa, bordered by Senegal and the north Atlantic Ocean. Those Red Cross workers witnessed one of their volunteer members shot and killed April 11. "The emotions are escalating but this is not a civil unrest situation," said Jacobs. "We have been working with the country on a psychological support program and, in turn, it is important that we help them with this circumstance," said Jacobs, noting emergency medical help in The Gambia is provided by Red Cross volunteers.
Jacobs said the Red Cross volunteer was shot while providing aid to injured teenagers. "The Red Cross workers there attempted to perform first aid on the volunteer. They are having a very difficult time dealing with that situation," he said. "We will provide emergency psychological support in this situation."
The DMHI, established as one of the South Dakota Board of Regents' Centers of Excellence in 1997, has psychologists who are experienced in providing disaster mental health services. These faculty members are available to provide rapid response interventions in the aftermath of incidents.