Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Alvin W. Wolfe, Ph.D.


Compassion fatigue, Disaster mental health, Traumatic stress, Occupational health and safety, Disaster deployment


This exploratory study examines the lived experience of Green Cross traumatologists deployed to the New York City World Trade Center disaster. The deployment took place five days after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. The author was a member of a ten member advance team that provided crisis stabilization services to an international union in Lower Manhattan. Disaster Mental Health Services and community outreach were provided for a month. The purpose of the study was to describe in an anthropologically holistic perspective the lived experience of traumatologists, who as Americans were also affected by the terrorist disaster. Thirty-one traumatologists participated in the study. Ethnographic methods included participant observation and informal interviews during the first week of the deployment. In-depth interviews were conducted after deployment and ranged from one to three hours in length. Interviews were audio taped, transcribed and analyzed with the assistance of N-vivo software. The author's story is among the narratives. Narratives of lived experience reflect the continuity of life and give meaning to experience within a cultural context. Findings reveal the shared meaning attributed to lived experience in a disaster environment, cultural continuity and change and impact of disaster deployment on the health and safety of the helper. Recommendations for future research, policy and training are offered.