Seminar provides disaster training for health professionals

Thursday, June 16, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 9:08 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 11, 2008

Missouri is the perfect state to be a leading model in disaster prevention and response, according to Roberto Dansie, a psychologist.

“Missouri has the ability of helping people of very different backgrounds find common unity,” said Dansie, the recipient of this year’s International Center for Psychosocial Trauma’s Humanitarian Award.

Dansie is participating in the ICPT Summer Institute, sponsored by the MU Trauma Team, that started Sunday and runs through Friday.

The six-day program provides intensive disaster training through a series of seminars. The seminars focus on trauma psychiatry, bioterrorism, mental health and suicide prevention. Seminars teach mental health professionals how to recognize the symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder and other disaster-related disorders. Intervention techniques are also taught.

Dansie, a member of the MU Trauma Team, said Missouri has the greatest potential to exude compassion because it’s the center of America and many people from various parts of the world are now living here.

“The world is coming to Missouri,” he said. “The people coming to Missouri from other countries may be victims of trauma. They have tremendous needs but they have tremendous contributions.”

Dansie is a Native American-Mexican psychologist from French Gulch, Calif.

Syed Arshad Husain, director of the ICPT and MU professor, said Dansie’s heritage and his “cutting edge cultural approach to healing” make him deserving of the award.

Mental health professionals from throughout Missouri are attending the Summer Institute this week.

Fran Lambeth, a retired registered nurse of Columbia, is attending the Summer Institute, because she is interested in both nursing and the psychological effects of trauma. She has her master’s degree in counseling psychology as well as nursing.

She said she interested in becoming a volunteer in the event of a natural or man-made disaster.

“If something happens, I wouldn’t feel content sitting in my room watching the news on TV. I’d want to be out there doing something to help,” Lambeth said.

Husain said the summer program has taken a new approach to training techniques over the past few years. American doctors have become the majority being trained because visas are difficult to obtain since Sept. 11, the Iraq war and the tsunami in Asia, Husain said. Effects of war on children, which used to be the main concern to the organization, is now only one of the issues being addressed at the Summer Institute.

That has not stopped Husain and the MU Trauma Team from continuing to help aid war victims.

“Our team travels to the war conflicted areas or neighboring countries to train those professionals who can’t attend our Summer Institute,” Husain said.

The MU Trauma Team has already made one trip to Sri Lanka to assist the tsunami victims earlier this year and intends to return at the end of July.

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