1. Ortelli, Tracy A. PhD, RN, CNE, ANEF


Apps, websites, and volunteer organizations can provide assistance.


Article Content

The month of June marks the beginning of hurricane season in the United States,1 and is also recognized as PTSD Awareness Month by the National Center for PTSD.2 Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is experienced by an estimated 8 million Americans in a given year,3 can occur after exposure to a trauma or a life-threatening event-including a natural disaster.


The following resources are available to help nurses educate patients, families, and the public on actions they can take to prepare for a disaster and cope in its aftermath. They include apps and other tools for those who may develop PTSD. Resources are also provided for nurses about general disaster relief, caring for patients who have PTSD, self-care strategies, and volunteer opportunities. Any nurse interested in volunteering to serve in the event of a disaster, remember: the best time to sign up and be trained is when skies are blue!



Disaster relief resources.


* 2-1-1


Dial 211 to obtain free information on local health and human services.


*; follow on Twitter: @Readygov


This website from the Department of Homeland Security provides information on how to plan and prepare for different types of disasters.


* Disaster Distress Helpline


A helpline from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers support to those experiencing emotional distress after a disaster. Staffed by trained crisis counselors, the helpline is available 24/7 in many languages. Call (800) 985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746.


* National Center for PTSD: Disaster Relief


A comprehensive list of links to disaster relief organizations.


* FEMA App


This app from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides tools and tips in both English and Spanish to keep people safe before, during, and after disasters. It also allows users to locate open shelters and disaster recovery centers. Available on Apple and Android devices, the app can be downloaded by texting APPLE to 43362 or ANDROID to 43362. FEMA can also be followed on Facebook ( and Twitter: @fema.


* ReUnite App


Developed by the National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health, this app can be used to report and find missing persons after a large-scale disaster. Available via iTunes (iOS) and Google Play (Android).


PTSD resources.


* PTSD Coach App


This app is designed to help users learn about and manage the symptoms of PTSD. Users can track their symptoms, learn coping skills, and obtain support. Available via iTunes (iOS) and Google Play (Android).


* PTSD Coach Online


This online resource offers 17 tools to help trauma survivors, their families, or anyone coping with stress. The tools focus on managing reminders of trauma, sleep issues, anxiety, and other troubling symptoms that can occur following a disaster.


* PTSD Family Coach App


This app offers tools for family members of those with PTSD to better support their loved one, find counseling, care for themselves, and manage stress. Available via iTunes (iOS) and Google Play (Android).


* PTSD Treatment Decision Aid


This interactive device provides information about treatment options and creates a summary of the user's treatment needs and preferences, which can be shared with a health care provider.


* Understanding PTSD and PTSD Treatment


An information booklet that offers practical information about PTSD and treatment options.


* Tips for Talking with and Helping Children and Youth Cope After a Disaster or Traumatic Event: A Guide for Parents, Caregivers, and Teachers


This handout from SAMHSA describes the common reactions of children following a disaster or traumatic event, offers tips for helping children cope, and recommends support services.


* Tips for College Students: After a Disaster or Other Trauma


A SAMHSA tip sheet for college students discusses ways to cope with disasters and other traumatic events, describes normal reactions to trauma, and emphasizes the importance of talking to others and practicing self-care.



Disaster relief resource.


* Lippincott NursingCenter: Disaster Relief Nursing and Emergency Preparedness


Click on Articles and Publications, then Focus On, then Disaster Recovery. This webpage offers advice for volunteers, and access to articles on emergency preparedness and disaster relief.


PTSD resources.


* National Center for PTSD: Professional


Dedicated to research and education on trauma and PTSD, the National Center for PTSD is focused on disseminating the latest research findings. This page-"for researchers, providers and helpers"-contains training materials as well as information and tools to help with assessment and treatment.


* PFA Mobile App


This app is designed to assist responders who provide PFA (psychological first aid) to adults, children, and families. Available via iTunes (iOS) and Google Play (Android).


* PILOTS Database


The PILOTS (Published International Literature on Traumatic Stress) database is a free electronic index to the worldwide literature on PTSD and other mental health consequences of exposure to traumatic events.


* PTSD Toolkit for Nurses


This self-directed e-learning resource from the American Nurses Foundation and the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing provides clinical information about PTSD as well as interactive simulations. The toolkit is also available as a free app via iTunes (iOS) and Google Play (Android).


Self-care resource.


* Provider Self-Care Toolkit


This resource from the National Center for PTSD is for providers who work with trauma survivors, and features self-assessment and self-help strategies to reduce the effects of job-related stress, burnout, and secondary traumatic stress.


Volunteer opportunities.


* American Red Cross


Nurses can volunteer to provide disaster relief; develop and teach courses on disaster preparedness, CPR, and first aid; manage blood drives; and take on other leadership roles.


* Medical Reserve Corps


This national network coordinates the skills of volunteer health care professionals to respond locally to disasters and other emergencies that affect public health.


* National Disaster Medical System


Nurses can apply to serve as intermittent federal employees during disasters.




1. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Weather Service. Plan for a hurricane. n.d. [Context Link]


2. U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, PTSD: National Center for PTSD. About PTSD awareness. 2017. [Context Link]


3. U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, PTSD: National Center for PTSD. PTSD basics: how common is PTSD? 2016. [Context Link]