Evaluation of the psychosocial aftercare in the aftermath of the breakdown of the Historical City Archive in Cologne

On the 3rd March 2009, the Historical Archive of the City of Cologne and two surrounding houses on the Severinstraße collapsed. The disaster affected the lives of many. Two people were killed; 36 people lost their homes; a further 126 had to temporary leave their residences; and three schools nearby were evacuated. Due to the scale of this disaster, employees and visitors of the Historical Archive, construction workers and passers-by have been directly affected by the disaster.

Within the first few hours, the affected persons had been attended to and cared for by the German Red Cross Cologne and emergency counsellors. Initial psychological assistance was offered for early stabilisation and those who faced evacuation were cared for by the Housing Supply Office of the City of Cologne.

On 5th March 2009, the crisis committee of the City of Cologne assigned the Psychosocial-Support-Team (PSU-Team) of the Fire Brigade Cologne, in close cooperation with the Housing Supply Office, with coordinating management of the psychosocial crisis.

 In order to support the main PSU-Team, PSU-Teams of additional fire brigades were involved; and external companies were assigned to conduct consulting and therapy for the affected persons within the mid-and-long-term psychosocial considerations. A Central Coordination Centre was set up near the accident sit on 5th March, in order to offer general support.

In July 2009, the Fire Brigade Cologne transferred responsibility of the further coordination of the mid-and-long-term psychosocial aftercare to the Cologne Health Department.

Central measures of the Target Group Intervention Programme (TGIP) were conducted in the mid-and-long-term psychosocial emergency care. These include: demand-orientated psychosocial counselling; psychoinformation; screening with the Cologne Risk Index; trauma-focused specialist counselling; diagnostics; and trauma therapy.

A systematic evaluation of post disaster interventions is a main task of EUTOPA-Implementation. Central questions are: How many people were directly and indirectly affected? How was the demand-orientated prognostic assessment performed? What kinds of symptoms did the affected persons develop? How many people received psychoinformation, psychosocial and trauma-focused counselling, detailed diagnosis and treatment; and to what extend? How can these results and experiences be integrated into the TGIP?

Under the patronage of the Mayor of Cologne Mrs Elfi Scho-Antwerpes and scientifically guided by the Centre of Psychotraumatology, Krefeld, an advisory council has been founded as part of the project EUTOPA-IP. The advisory council, which meets regularly since September 2010, is assigned to gathering information and evaluating the psychosocial aftercare after the breakdown disaster.


Regular members of the board are representatives of the following institutions:

• City of Cologne

• Fire Brigade of Cologne

• Historical Archive of the City Cologne

• Psychosocial Services of the Public Health Department Cologne

• Public Health Department Düsseldorf

• Centre of Psychotraumatology, Alexianer Krefeld GmbH

• Deutsches Institut für Psychotraumatologie (DIPT e.V.)

• Human Protect Consulting GmbH

• Institut für Psychologische Unfallnachsorge (ipu)


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Co funded by the European Commission, Directorate Environment,
Grant Agreement No. 070401/2009/540414/SUB/A4