On Thu, Feb 19, 2009 at 12:28 AM, Charlie Bell <char...@culturelist.org>wrote:

> She works as a Research Officer in the Crime Department of Victoria Police
> - she's a non-sworn public servant (ie not a police officer). During the
> unfolding of the scale of the disaster, she was working the phones helping
> allocate resources to the cops out at the myriad crime scenes. And, of
> course, just being exposed to the stories going round the office now she's
> back in her own area.

FYI., the big stressor is what we call "OOC" - out of control.  Any large
incident leaves people feeling that way, or helpless.  People working the
phones and radio often get hit the hardest because of the sense of not being
able to "do" anything while listening to those on the front lines.  I never
appreciated how incredibly stressful it is to be a dispatcher until I got
involved in CISM.

I offer this not so you can ask her straight out if she was feeling helpless
or out of control, but to let you know to listen for that and offer
reassurance that that is often the hardest part and it is normal.  By the
way, people in that kind of position (remote, connected by phone or radio)
very often have a delayed reaction (days, weeks, even months)... and are
tempted to minimize their grief (yes, it's grief) because they weren't
on-scene.  One of the very big no-nos is making those comparisons.  Whatever
comes up for her and other folks touched by this, reassuring one another
than no matter what it is -- trouble sleeping, intrusive memories, increased
drinking, whatever -- is a normal response to an abnormal experience.

Hope that's of some help.


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