I hope this newsletter finds you well and in good health.
This edition of the newsletter is going to focus on the importance of Special Assistance Team (SAT) Members and the role they play during an incident.
SAT Members are on-call specially trained experts and their role is emotionally demanding, requiring patience, compassion and empathy. It also requires a high level of communication and problem solving skills.
The goal of the SAT is to help the survivors and families establish realistic expectations, to help explain what all the information they are receiving means to them in practical terms and to assist with their transition through the immediate crisis. They are responsible for providing personal assistance and support based on the individual needs of those affected.
A SAT Member may be the first personal contact a family member has with the organization involved in the incident. They are a liaison between the families and designated authorities, the incident management center and the investigation and mortuary affairs operations. They may also be required to do various tasks for the benefit of the families, including conducting the ante-mortem interview or running out to purchase a toothbrush because someone forgot to pack one. If the family requests to view the deceased, SAT Members may be required to act as escort for the family and deceased.
SAT Members are typically assigned to a specific family, or families, during their deployment. They could be deployed to the hospital where a survivor is recovering or to the country of origin of the deceased to assist family who cannot travel to the Family Assistance Center (FAC).
The duties and responsibilities are never the same and with each incident, new challenges will arise. The SAT Member must be flexible and able to adjust and function like a professional in an emotionally volatile environment.
The role of the SAT Member is not for everyone. If you are uncomfortable in tense situations and highly emotional, this is not a position for you. While there is no specific background for a SAT member, we have had successful SAT members from various professions in mental health, funeral direction, nursing, social work, and grief counseling. Backgrounds can really vary, however.
We’ve put together some hypothetical situations so that you can think about how you would respond, as well as some common pitfalls to avoid in the next two articles. Time to put on your thinking cap and determine solutions to difficult situations!
Team Member Manager