Q&A With Margie Upson Post Nepal Earthquake Trip

Q&A With Margie Upson 

Critical Incident Debriefing Medical Workers 

Post Nepal Earthquake

Soon after the devastating 7.8 earthquake on May 25th, Titoki counsellor, Margie Upson was called to Nepal to carry out criticial incident debriefing with medical workers there. She was there for 8 days of significant work and flew out just one hour before the second major earthquake hit.  In this series of blog posts Margie has written the story of her time there and the encounters she had.

Click on the links to read Margie's stories for DAY 1,  DAYS 2-4DAYS 5-8.

Margie, what did you go to Nepal for?
I went as a counsellor to do critical incident debriefing for people after the earthquake.

What does SIM do and what is your connection with them?
In Nepal they work as  a relief and development agency.  My husband Roger and I have been connected to them for over 25 years, also working in development work in Nigeria.

What is the process of debriefing about and why is it important?
Critical Incident Stress Debriefing is a one-off process lasting several hours for an individual, family or a group to help them absorb the impact of a traumatic event in a structured way.  It also aids them to see their responses are probably quite normal ones to an abnormal event.

Who were you working with over there?
I worked with our people attached to our agency plus our medical personnel who work in the hospitals they partner with in Nepal.

What details stand out as capturing peoples stories/experiences of the earthquake? 
How people still retain their good habits even in the midst of crisis.  I heard many stories about shoes- people stopping to put on shoes as they rushed out of collapsing buildings; children sleeping in their shoes during the nights they had to rush out for every aftershock after the earthquake.

What stood out to you about the impact of the earthquake on the people?
How well prepared people in Nepal were to cope with it; many had contigency plans in place. Everybody was involved!  Everybody experienced the quake, and has their story.  Many Nepali have family contacts in the remote villages that were most affected.

What has been the emotional impact for the people who worked with?
It has left people unsettled and aware of the precarious nature of life and the world they live in.

How did the debriefing process benefit them?   
They were able to review their personal experience in a structured way, and to realise a lot of their responses were normal for an abnormal event happening in their lives.

How did your trip impact you personally?
It was impacting see first hand the hardships that both young and old have experienced and leaves me with a concern about the long rebuilding process.

How can people support the people in Nepal and the work of SIM?
They can give in whatever way they can, through agencies they know.  SIM has a project to help rebuild with the details available on their website www.sim.org.nz.  I may continue being in touch with the SIM team there and thereby also hear about their Nepali colleagues and the rebuild.

Posted: Friday 12 June 2015