The stress upon rescuers involved in an oil rig disaster. "Alexander L. Kielland" 1980

Acta Psychiatr Scand Suppl. 1989:355:38-49. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0447.1989.tb05252.x.


Nine months post-disaster, 134 rescuers involved in an off-shore oil rig disaster were investigated by using a structured self report questionnaire to chart their experience of coping with disaster impact stressors and their mental and physical health 9 months after the disaster. Of the 134 rescuers, 24 were categorized as professional rescuers, 101 as non-professionals and 9 could not be classified. Of the 212 victims, all oil rig workers, 89 (42%) were rescued. Seventy-six percent of the rescuers reported they had been exposed to danger during the rescue operation, and 62% found the experience to be the worst ever. Eighty to ninety percent felt they had coped fairly well with the task, and severely disturbed coping was reported to be below 10% for decision-making, ability to judge risk, capacity to function as leader, and finally ability to cooperate and act efficiently. For the non-professionals, severe disturbance in ability to plan before acting was reported by 10% and moderate disturbance was reported by 38%. The frequency of emotional stress reactions during the rescue work can be assessed from the fact that 64% to 52% reported discouragement, restlessness, uncertainty, anxiety and irritation. The stressors inherent in this type of disaster seem to satisfy the DSM III stressor criterion for post-traumatic stress disorder. Nine months after the disaster 24% reported their mental health to be poor due to the disaster impact, and only the most experienced rescuers had a low health risk compared to the others.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Arousal
  • Disasters*
  • Drowning
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Norway
  • Ships*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*
  • Survival / psychology*