Training for emergency responders to help Victims of Critical Incidents

As part of my role as Business Advisor at the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace I attended a workshop yesterday in Warrington for staff involved in emergency response. These are fire, police, ambulance staff and also volunteers who set up rest centres, call centres etc whenever there is a critical incident.

The speakers had all been affected by terrorism. One speaker had been on the tube at King’s Cross on 7/7, another had lost her leg in the IRA bombing of the Victoria Station, London in 1991, the third speaker had been a police officer on duty when a bomb went off outside Harrods in December 1983 and the fourth lost his son in the bombing of Sharm el Sheikh. They all told their stories about how they were dealt with by the authorities, the health professions, their employers, colleagues and family. Some experiences were good, some less so. In every case, their lives were completely changed by the incident.

The workshop was really useful for the emergency staff, who rarely know the ‘end of the story’ once they have helped people in the immediate moment of an incident. The testimonies were very powerful. Some key lessons were

  • The trauma does not go away after six months. It can go on forever, but manifest itself in different ways.
  • People need emotional support and well as physical attention.
  • Family, friends and colleagues can also experience problems but this is not always acknowledged.
  • Many GPs have not had training to deal with this type of case.

Quote from a participant “It’s all about them (the victim), not about what we think they want.”

The Foundation for Peace carries out excellent training for professionals dealing with critical incidents and also training in Conflict Resolution and Leadership.

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