Crisis stress management: Helping victims cope

Bronson Healthcare offers crisis stress management training at Western Michigan University on June 14, 2017.

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Victims, their families, witnesses and first responders often rely on those trained to help them cope after traumatic events like the Kalamazoo shooting rampage or Wednesday’s shooting near Washington, D.C.

“If you think about some of the traumatic events that have happened in our community — whether that’s a car accident with multiple fatalities or if that’s a case of child abuse or even a mass shooting — that there are people who are providing care to those victims and families,” said Amy Morrison-Maybee, a medical social worker with Bronson Healthcare.

About 80 people attended a Bronson crisis incident stress management training class at Western Michigan University on Wednesday to learn how to work with people after traumatic events like a mass shooting.

“Our attempt in doing critical incident stress management is to help people understand that the reactions they’re having are the reactions many people have to this kind of event,” said Dennis Potter, who led the class.

The training came on the same day that police say a man opened fire during a congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia, wounding five people. The shooter was then shot and killed by Capitol Police.

“When we look at an event like that, we might be responding to the people on the teams, the players themselves, we might be responding to the people in the stands who witnessed it, we might be responding to the fire, police and EMS folks that responded to the event,” Potter said.

A similar crisis incident stress management team helped debrief some Cracker Barrel employees after the Kalamazoo shooting spree in February 2016. Five people were shot, four of them fatally, in the restaurant’s parking lot.

“Somewhere between 93 and 94 percent of people who go through an event like this with a critical incident response, it’s enough. They don’t need anything extra,” Potter said.