Be Trauma Wise

Published by TraumaSuppport on


South Africans have over the years, experienced high levels of violent crime. The resulting aftermath is a population who need immediate access to support. Although this places additional pressure on services in communities, survivors are not always able to access help immediately post an incident. Effective Trauma Support provided to survivors on a scene may minimise the long-term effects of trauma.

Many South Africans, including Law Enforcement Personnel and Emergency Responders do not understand or acknowledge the effect a traumatic situation can have on a person’s emotions, thinking, behaviour, beliefs and relationships.

Understanding what traumatic stress is and how it effects a person will ensure support is offered in a non-threatening but encouraging manner.

Law Enforcement personnel need to be convinced that managing a victim in this manner may also improve their ability to investigate and respond to crime and thus increase successes.

Personnel can be trained efficiently and effectively whilst minimising logistical challenges using the TRAUMA WISE awareness model.


The Trauma Wise model provides first responders with an understanding of the processes needed to be followed to assist a survivor without causing more harm. A first responder, already being on scene, can therefore assist until handing over to a Chaplain or Trauma Support Volunteer.

Trauma Wise identifies the following principles:

  • Building trust,
  • Ensuring safety,
  • Validating the incident,
  • Psychoeducation,
  • Restoring control and minimising helplessness
  • Providing emotional support where needed
  • Empowering a survivor by advising them of what may happen or what needs to happen

The four Trauma Wise steps emphasize these healing principles whilst ensuring an easy to remember process of what will assist survivors.

Used in partnership with the World Health Organization ‘s Psychological First AID (PFA) training, First Responders will have a complete toolkit to assist survivors in the South African context


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