Professionals, who are expert on how to respond to mass casualty events, recognize that many people want to help and support a school and community overwhelmed by a mass shooting event. Often, concerned people send physical items or messages designed to comfort. Sometimes individuals provide support by demonstrating outrage in the media or holding vigils. However, crisis management experts counsel that these do not necessarily help a community recover and move forward.
Here are key things to consider when developing a response to a mass casualty event:
- Each school and community has its own culture that should be understood before effective responses are employed.
- A return to prior routines as quickly as possible is one of the most important interventions in the aftermath of mass shootings and other traumatic events. It is not uncommon for students, families and school staff to be offered special opportunities over the ensuing months and year. Yet, this show of support may intentionally keep the traumatic experience at the forefront of victims’ minds rather than relieve them of the burden. Too many, too varied and too protracted responses may interfere with victim’s opportunity to recover.
- Effective intervention and support around school shootings needs to be local. The best way to support the community members’ needs is to work through the local providers and agencies that have prior relationships and will be in the community for the long haul.
- National or international experts can help by providing training and ongoing consultation to local providers. Local people can be trained to provide the appropriate immediate, intermediate and long-term programs and interventions which children and families need so that the community can sustain these efforts over time.
- Experts can provide ongoing consultation and can assist local agencies in providing interventions. Local leadership should be encouraged to take a deliberate and thoughtful approach to managing the situation.
- Skills for Psychological Recovery: Field Operations Guide. Berkowitz, S., Bryant, R., Brymer, M., Hamblen, J., Jacobs, A., Layne, C., Macy, R., Osofsky, H., Pynoos, R., Ruzek, J., Steinberg, A., Vernberg, E., & Watson, P. (2010). The National Center for PTSD & the National Child Traumatic Stress Network.
Psychological first aid for schools: Field operations guide, 2nd Edition. Brymer M., Taylor M., Escudero P., Jacobs A., Kronenberg M., Macy R., Mock L., Payne L., Pynoos R., & Vogel J (2012). Los Angeles: National Child Traumatic Stress Network.
- Los Angeles Unified School District Crisis Response Program
- UCLA School Mental Health Project