First responders may have some reactions to the tragic shooting in Connecticut. Some first responders may not react, and there is nothing wrong with that. It may be automatic to use some familiar distancing techniques or healthy coping strategies developed over the years.
A few thoughts I have for first responders regarding the incident:
We are all sorry about this shooting, but remind yourself that this did not happen here. This is not your call (unless you know someone involved), it is not personal, do not make it as such. Do not imagine “what if it was my kid?”
Do not self deploy. I am happy to read the Connecticut team has a plan for peer support and debriefing. The International Critical Incident Stress Foundation website has updates and will reach out for help if it is needed.
Media Diet. If isn’t too late, do not watch the media coverage of this event. Once you have these images in your head, they are difficult to remove.
Practice the peer support you preach. The story/pictures/news coverage of this current event may trigger old calls for service. It can start the movie within your head that includes your own personal parade of faces from the calls you may not have ended/closed in your own career. Talk to someone who will understand. If these personal images or difficulties from your career do not settle down or get worse in the next 2 weeks, seek help.
Compassion fatigue: Keep some compassion for yourself, your agency, and your family; do not spend your compassion all on web sites, newspapers, radio or tv.
Finally, of course, take care of yourself. During stress, what do you usually do? Run? Fish? Walk around the lake? Get extra doses of that. Avoid alcohol until you feel less stressed or sad. Drink water, play favorite music, watch your favorite comedy channel.
Be safe out there
Anne Bisek, Psy.D.