Help for first responders after Kalamazoo shootings

Police on scene of a shooting at the Cracker Barrel in Texas Township where multiple people were killed on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016.

TEXAS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — As the Kalamazoo area begins to deal with the trauma of Saturday’s spree shooting that left six people dead and two in the hospital, first responders also have access to aid resources.

“First responders are typically people we refer to to fix our problems, and we’re called there to solve crimes and to fix people’s problems, but what we really need to focus on is sometimes ourselves so we can be there,” Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Michelle Greenlee said. “We can’t do anybody any good if we don’t take care of ourselves physically and mentally.”

The shooting spree, which lasted more than five hours, spanned three locations. At one of those, the Cracker Barrel in Texas Township, four people were killed and a 14-year-old critically wounded. It was a stressful scene for the emergency crews who rushed to help as they tried to find the shooter.

The Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office has a Critical Incident Stress Management Team to help first responders when they experiences a traumatic event.

“It is a group of first responders who are trained in peer and group support and critical incident stress management,” Greenlee explained. “What we try to do is get to them as fast as we can after an exposure to a critical incident or a traumatic event and give them positive coping skills so they can process what has happened to them, what they’ve witnessed, what they’ve’ been through, and move forward.”

There’s no one fix for everyone.

“Everybody reacts differently,” Greenlee said. “We have teaching moments where we cover different types of reactions you may or may not be having. And they may be normal reactions to a very abnormal event.”

She said if someone needs more help than the team can provide, they will be referred to professionals.



International Critical Incident Stress Foundation


#KalamazooStrong: How you can help

Complete coverage of the Kalamazoo shooting rampage

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