OBJECTIVES Debate persists about whether people of different ages react similarly to traumatic events, and whether elderly people are more vulnerable to such events, or better able to cope with them. The first aim of this paper was to shed light on this debate by comparing the post-traumatic responses of young, middle-aged and elderly community residents who had been exposed to technological disasters. The second aim was to differentiate between these three age groups in terms of coping strategies. METHODS One hundred and forty-eight community residents, who were exposed to two technological disasters, participated in the study. They were assessed using the Impact of Event Scale (IES), the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-28) and the Ways of Coping Checklists (WOC). RESULTS The results showed that in terms of IES, GHQ and WOC scores, no significant differences were found across the three age groups. However, main effects were found according to type of disaster and intensity of exposure to disaster. One significant interaction effect was that residents exposed to the aircraft crash used significantly more confrontive coping than those exposed to the train collision, in all three age groups. Correlation coefficients results showed that for all three age groups, on the whole, the more they experienced intrusive thoughts and avoidance behaviour, the more they experienced general health problems. CONCLUSIONS Following exposure to technological disasters, young, middle-aged and elderly community residents could display similar post-traumatic responses and employ similar coping strategies, which contradicts the vulnerability hypothesis and the inoculation hypothesis.