Tulane Expert Says Colleagues Best Help For Sandy Hook First Responders

Dec 17, 2012

As the nation continues mourning the killings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, first responders are getting help in coping with what they saw. A Tulane University expert on post-traumatic stress says their colleagues are the best source of help.

Charles Figley is a professor in the School of Social Work, and a national expert on trauma. He says the first responders will be best able to handle the horrific scene they found by talking with colleagues. And he says they all must answer some basic questions.

“What happened? Why did this happen? Why did I, as an individual, respond or behave the way I did during the event? Why am I feeling the way I am since this event? And what if something like this happens again? And will I be able to cope, at least as well as I have before?”   

Figley says it’s important that they get help from locals who know the magnitude first-hand. He says first-responders after Hurricane Katrina also got help from those directly affected.

“There is a very good chance that these men and women will be able to heal more quickly because the community is also grieving and that they don’t need to hide their grief or their anger or whatever emotion their emotional reality is.”     

Figley says those first responders will benefit by having strong sympathy in the community for what they endured in the aftermath of the shooting.