Responding to a Crisis: Managing Emotions and Stress Scenario

Category: Psychological Disorders

Course Overview

Course Goal

This course utilizes scenario-based learning to cover concepts of Psychological First Aid in responding to disasters. The learner makes decisions about how to respond to the emotional needs of disaster victims and volunteers. 

Intended Audience

This course is intended for the public health workforce, as well as anyone involved in post-disaster recovery.


The length of time for participants to take this course is estimated to be one hour.

Course Content & Navigation

The course is set up as an interactive scenario. There are 4 sections of the course that need to be completed.  Users will be directed into a scenario and then asked to make decisions. When users make the correct decision, they will advance to a positive outcome. When users make an incorrect decision, they will face a negative outcome and receive the necessary training to make a better decision. They are then given another opportunity to make the right choice. Users must answer the question correctly in order to continue to the next section of the scenario. 

Learning Objectives

After completion of the course, learners should be able to:

  • Assess the psycho-physiological impact of trauma
  • Describe mental health interventions used during and in the immediate aftermath of a disaster in order to provide psychological stabilization
  • Determine who may benefit from mental health intervention
  • Administer mental health interventions to disaster victims as appropriate
  • Apply the screening and intervention concepts that occur in the immediate aftermath of the disaster.

Certificate of Completion

A certificate of completion is awarded on successful completion of this course. In order to successfully complete this course, you MUST score 70% or higher on the Posttest.

If you do not receive 70% on the posttest, you may review the material and re-take it. The posttest will become available for a re-take 2 days after your first attempt.


Online Self-Pace

Pre-requisites/Learning Level

No pre-requisites

Public Health Preparedness Capabilities

Capability 2: Community Recovery

  • Function 1: Identify and monitor public health, medical, mental/behavioral health system recovery needs.
  • Function 2: Coordinate community public health, medical, mental/behavioral health system recovery operations.

PERLC Competencies

Domain I: Model Leadership

1.2 Manage behaviors associated with emotional responses in self and others.
  • Distinguish between the possible signs of personal stress, burn-out and vicarious trauma.
  • Applies techniques for maintaining awareness of possible signs of personal stress, burn-out, and vicarious trauma.
  • Applies intervention techniques to support emotional health needs.
  • Describe the importance of mitigating acute distress and fostering adaptive functioning and coping.
  • Demonstrate personal behavioral techniques for mitigating acute distress and fostering adaptive functioning and coping.
  • Discuss the elements of self-care principles and practices.
  • Use self-care principles and practices to mitigate potential adverse effects.
  • Demonstrate the ability to develop a helping relationship in support of the emotional health of others.
  • Demonstrate principles of active listening, express empathy and rapport. 
  • Behave in a positive non-judgmental and respectful manner.
  • Evaluate the emotional support needs of others.
  • Assess individuals requiring immediate care from those who need no care or delayed care.
  • Distinguish between well-functioning, distress and dysfunctional emotional responses. 
  • Describe mechanisms of liaison and advocacy and knowledge of referral resources.
  • Distinguish between the types of referrals needed for intensive care.
  • Express confidence in ability to make referrals, and serves as a liaison and advocate.

Core Competencies for Public Health Professionals identified:

Domain 2: Policy Development and Program Planning Skills

T1: 2.2.5. Connects individuals to programs and services (e.g., helping individuals navigate systems, linking individuals to healthcare or social services)

Technical Requirements

  • Adobe Acrobat Reader
  • Speaker/Earphones

Registration Requirements

Register a free account

Course Redesign and Redevelopment (May 2023)

Subject Matter Experts

  • Suzanne Hawley, PhD

Instructional Designers & Developers

  • Alyssa Azhari

Item Writer

  • Roger Hileman

Audio/Video production

  • Melissa Richlen


  • Suzanne Hawley, PhD

LMS Coordinator

  • Tim Beachy

Course Creation and/or Update

  • May, 2023

Need Assistance?

If you need technical help, please Contact Us


The following organizations collaborated on the development of this course: Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH); University of Iowa College of Public Health, Institute for Public Health Practice (IPHP). 

State of Iowa Department of Health and Human Services IPHP Logo


Open Learning

Our Full, Open Training Catalog is available to anyone in our Open Learning Management System Portal