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Disaster & Mental Health


Disaster Services

The Council for Disaster Services is an arm of the Macon County Mental Health Board.  The Board’s Director of Contracting & Residential Services will also serve as the Disaster Services Coordinator. The Disaster Services Coordinator will supervise the Council’s day-to-day activities, maintain operational readiness, oversee the critical incident response team, develop and implement planning and training activities and officially represent the Council and the Board at County emergency response meetings, activities and in the emergency operations center.

Disaster Mental Health Services are provided to achieve the following objectives:

  1. Maintain essential mental health services to persons already receiving mental health care.  Priority will be given to those whose disability puts them at highest risk due to the disaster conditions.

  2. Respond to the mental health needs of citizens directly or indirectly affected by the emergency situation or disaster.

  3. Provide services to help response personnel maintain their operational efficiently and minimize post-response stress reactions.

The Council consists of volunteer representatives from area behavioral health and social service providers, EMA, the Decatur-Area Critical Incident Stress Management team, and private practitioners. The Council maintains a database of trained volunteers available for activation should the need arise.

The Disaster Services Coordinator will also be a member of the Decatur-Area Critical Incident Stress Management team and certified in CISM.

In the pre-disaster phase, the Council shall engage in preparedness activities. This includes developing and honing an activation plan, raising up and maintaining a database of volunteers, providing disaster training for mental health and public safety personnel and developing working relationships with key agencies and organizations within the county.

During a disaster, the Council will organize and coordinate the delivery of mental health services to the afflicted area.  The Council will dispatch trained mental health volunteers to designated sites throughout the community. The Council will also lend support to member organizations in maintaining essential services to existing service recipients impacted by the disaster.

If the event involves mass casualties, the Council may open a family assistance center. The center will serve as a central meeting point for victims’ family and friends.  It will also serve as a means for disseminating victim information.

In the post-disaster (recovery) phase, the Council will oversee efforts to return mental health services to pre-disaster levels, establish any ongoing crisis counseling programs and ensure that critical incident stress debriefings are made available to response personnel. The Council will assist the Mental Health Board in securing state and federal grants when applicable to help fund recovery activities. The Macon County Mental Health Board will apply for and manage the state and federal funds. The Council will provide appropriate follow-up services on the anniversary of a major disaster.

Contact Information
Ralf Pansch
Disaster Services Coordinator
Macon County Mental Health Board
Office: 217.423.6199, ext. 1131
Cell: 217.853.0911

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