A video of a presentation by Thomas Petschner during the Resilience and Response Stream of the 2016 People in Disasters Conference. The presentation is titled, "Medical Clowning in Disaster Zones".
The abstract for this presentation reads as follows:
To be in a crisis caused by different kinds of natural disasters (as well as a man made incidents), dealing with ongoing increase of problems and frequent confrontation with very bad news isn't something that many people can easily cope with. This applies obviously to affected people but also to the members of SAR teams, doctors in the field and the experienced humanitarians too. The appropriate use of humour in crisis situations and dis-functional environments is a great tool to make those difficult moments more bearable for everyone. It helps injured and traumatised people cope with what they're facing, and can help them to recover more quickly too. At the same time humorous thinking can help to solve some of the complex problems emergency responders face. This is in addition to emergency and medical only reactions - allowing for a more holistic human perspective, which can provide a positive lasting effect. The ability to laugh is hardwired into our systems bringing a huge variety of physical, mental and social benefits. Even a simple smile can cultivate optimism and hope, while laughter can boost a hormone cocktail - which helps to cope with pain, enhance the immune system, reduce stress, re-focus, connect and unite people during difficult times. Humour as an element of psychological response in crisis situations is increasingly understood in a much wider sense: as the human capacity to plan and achieve desired outcomes with less stress, thus resulting in more 'predictable' work in unpredictable situations. So, if we approach certain problems in the same way Medical Clowns do, we may find a more positive solution. Everyone knows that laughter is an essential component of a healthy, happy life. The delivery of 'permission to laugh' into disaster zones makes a big difference to the quality of life for everyone, even if it's for a very short, but important period of time. And it's crucial to get it right as there is no second chance for the first response.