Frequently Asked Questions​

Questions that are often asked about the Foundation and the Human Services Response™ model we use:

What is Human Services Response™ (HSR™)?

Human Services Response™ is a non-counseling approach offered by the employees who work for an organization involved in a crisis or tragedy, or by representatives of that organization. It emphasizes helping meet the practical needs of people affected by a crisis or disaster while providing emotional support. HSR™ is based on decades of research and real-world experience and has been proven effective in countless scenarios across many industries.

How was HSR™ created, and what makes it different?

Human Services Response™ came into existence through difficult professional observations and profound personal loss. Foundation Co-Founder and HSR™ creator Dr. Carolyn V. Coarsey’s unique journey began as an airline employee, where she witnessed several disorganized, poorly planned responses typical of an era where there was little emergency planning or preparation. Then, in 1985, her own fiancé died in an airline crash. The carrier’s employees meant well and tried to support survivors and families, but they didn’t know how to help.

​Carolyn realized that the problem was a lack of training for this remarkably sensitive and difficult task. She resolved to honor her fiancé’s memory and help future survivors and families by closing this gap.

Carolyn earned her doctorate and conducted groundbreaking research. Hers was the first study to examine a crucial question: do the behaviors and actions of an organization’s employee responders have a quantifiable effect on the psychological aftermath for survivors and/or families? Carolyn’s work, which included extensive interviews with people who had experienced airline tragedies, showed that the answer is a definite “yes.”

Carolyn’s dissertation, The Psychological Aftermath of Air Disaster: What can be Learned for Training?,  in part sponsored by the Civil Aerospace Medical Institute (CAMI) of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), was published in 1992 upon her graduation from the University of New Mexico. Carolyn’s studies are interdisciplinary with a focus on Adult Learning and Psychology. The resulting recommendations formed the basis for HSR™, became the foundation for numerous “Care Team” curricula worldwide, and constitutes much of today’s doctrine in this field. Many were also incorporated into the Aviation Disaster Family Assistance Act of 1996, the Foreign Air Carrier Family Support Act of 1997, and subsequent regulations on post-accident processes.

Who are the “true experts,” and what is "the ripple"?

A founding principle of HSR™ is that the true experts and best teachers are the survivors, family members, responders, and others within “the ripple,” which encompasses everyone who experiences a crisis or tragedy first-hand. They honor us by sharing their personal narratives and unique perspectives to benefit those who aspire to serve others in these highly sensitive situations.

What is covered in HSR™ training?

A sound understanding of support concepts and best practices is essential for anyone who will have contact with people involved in a crisis or tragedy. HSR™ courses help prepare attendees to provide effective assistance to people involved in situations resulting in traumatic stress through extensive use of learning tools such as:

Video interviews featuring survivors and family members from events in various industries

  • Role play
  • Case studies
  • Group discussion
  • Checklists

Topics covered include:

  • Human Services Response™ research, data, and model
  • Methods and processes for:
    • First Contact
    • Telephone Support
    • Care Team (face-to-face) assistance
    • Self-care and support for responders and employees
Why is the Foundation a nonprofit?

The Foundation’s nonprofit status enables it to maintain the legal and administrative framework for an innovative mutual support model, which in turn makes it possible for Aviem to offer comprehensive response services and access to resources at a reasonable cost.

Being a nonprofit also allows the Foundation to undertake numerous activities beneficial to its Members and supportive of its mission to empower people touched by tragedy. Examples include:

Conducting ongoing research on how best to support people in crisis and using the knowledge gained to continuously improve our processes, methods, and training.

Acting as a catalyst for offering support where no other alternatives are available. One such example was a tragic transit incident overseas where an individual was accidentally knocked from the platform into the path of a train. The transit agency had no funds to assist the family since it was not considered “their” accident for insurance purposes. As a nonprofit, the Foundation was able to take donations that enabled us to help the man’s family with transporting him home for burial, funeral costs, and other needs. Of those efforts, his mother said in part, “…I am speechless about the way you people assisted during the tragic death of my son. The service you provide surpasses any other I have ever heard of, never mind encountered. Thank you ever so much.”

  • Partnering with outside organizations such as the QPR Institute, through which Members can access valuable benefits in a cost-effective manner.
  • Advancing our profession through educational resources such as our Wednesday Wisdom Series, newsletters, and podcasts.
How does the Foundation’s mutual support model work?

Our Corporate Members typically train employees to be part of an internal Care Team that is available to respond to a crisis or disaster involving their organization. Through the Foundation, many Members agree to make trained individuals available in the form of a pool from which other Members may request additional Care Team personnel. As of our last Member Survey, the pool currently numbers some 9,100+ people in 50+ countries who speak a cumulative total of about 40 languages.

When was the Foundation formed?

Jeff Morgan and Dr. Carolyn V. Coarsey created the Foundation in 2000.

Why does the Foundation partner with Aviem International, Inc., and Higher Resources, Inc.?

Our Members and Clients expect ongoing planning and training support, plus 24/7 on-demand access to critical disaster response services and resources – all at costs that make business sense. Our unique partnership, combined with our mutual support model, enables us to accomplish this objective, which would present considerable challenges to one entity using either a singular commercial or nonprofit corporate structure.

What is each organization’s function?

This is best explained through an analogy we’ve heard. If given human attributes, The Foundation would represent the qualities associated with the heart: compassion, empathy, and understanding. All are key elements in the HSR™ training that creates Care Team members who can meet the needs of people affected by sudden traumatic stress.

Aviem would represent the mind, accomplishing the planning, organizational, and logistical training and tasks on which any successful endeavor depends.

And finally, Higher Resources is the spirit – the inspiration, creativity, humility, and dedication that drives us to continue learning and to strive to expand our reach.

What is the origin of the name “Family Assistance Foundation”?

Today, the practice of planning for crises and tragedies and providing assistance to people affected by them is increasingly common across industries all over the world. Such was not always the case.

Advocacy for better crisis preparation and support grew out of disorganized responses to airline accidents. The term “family assistance” described the process of assisting the loved ones of those who perished. This movement ultimately spurred the US Congress to pass landmark legislation known as the Aviation Disaster Family Assistance Act of 1996. When Dr. Carolyn Coarsey and Jeff Morgan decided to create a nonprofit to help organizations provide more effective support, “Family Assistance Foundation” was the logical choice. The name has since been expanded to better reflect our overall mission: today we are the Family Assistance Education & Research Foundation, Inc.

Speaking of names...Care Team, CARE Team, SAT, FAST? What does it all mean?

Generally speaking, these are all names for groups tasked with the same function – supporting people affected by a crisis or tragedy. The first such program was American Airlines’ Customer Assistance Relief Effort, which shortened to the acronym CARE. As the concept spread across industries and around the world, other organizations adopted names including Care Team, Special Assistance Team (SAT), Heart Team, and Family Assistance Support Team (FAST).

We call ours the Foundation Support Team, and break it down further by function – our Care Team provides face-to-face support while Family Support Representatives assist via telephone.