Although the title seems to line up with my normal conversation about doing a better job to prepare our children for disasters, this is not a post about this specifically. My son is a college freshman and I feel has seen a lot and experienced a lot in his now, almost twenty years. However, one item that has surfaced recently in several different fashions has been the end of life.
A few months or so ago, the father of a very close friend of his almost died of a heart attack. A little over a month ago, the father of another close friend of his died in a tragic motor vehicle accident, the day after my son was sitting at his kitchen table having a conversation about cars and engineering. Yesterday, while at a hockey game, a gentleman in our row had a heart attack. Yesterday was a bad day, for many reasons, but to this man, his friends, family and all of those sitting around him; I can only send my deepest sympathies.
Why is this something to write a post about on this site? It needs to be brought to light because of the impact of it on children, teens and in reality any civilian who is exposed to stressful trauma. In coordination with another faculty member, we are currently working on some research on survivor’s stress. I have been reading, studying and even looking into my own subconscious about the stress that is caused due to traumatic events. Yesterday, it really hit home and I have a whole other area to think about now.
As way of history, I have been a first responder since I was sixteen. My very first fire was a triple fatal involving a mother and two children. In my thirty plus years in the emergency services, I have lost track of the number of fatalities and serious injuries. Now, here I am trying to explain to my nineteen year old son why I could not do anything for this gentleman yesterday. On one hand, I am trying to deal with his emotional level, he has had to deal with a lot in recent months, and now to see someone pass away right in front of him, this was tragic. More importantly, we had to have a conversation dealing with how and why this happens. There were dozens of trained professionals, including myself in the arena and many working for the arena. Care was almost instant, yet CPR was still in progress as they took this gentleman to the ambulance, and it was tragic.
Where am I going with this conversation? We need to do a better job of preparing our children for tragedy. All of these years, all of the events, all the tragic outcomes, yet as a trained professional, I have not done a very good job of preparing my own son, so how well have I done in helping others to prepare. Yesterday was another wakeup call that we must do a better job in not only preparing the next generation in how to react to a disaster, but also in how we counsel them when they are face to face with tragedy.
We have counseling services for responders, Critical Incident Stress Management, and independent counseling for survivors of tragic events, but maybe we need to start doing more stress-related counseling to prepare our next generation before tragedy strikes.
Thanks for listening!