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Reacting to trauma

In the past weeks I have been called upon to provide critical incident stress debriefing (CISD) to Haitian staff members at a local hospital.  Trained and experienced in crisis intervention for over 10 years I’ve encountered all types of critical incidents.  So, aware of the most current developments a week after the earthquake in Port Au Prince, I was prepared to engage fully with the employees in addressing their shock, fear and grief about their country and their loved ones.

Many of the attendees had been successful in communicating with their closest relatives, some were still awaiting news, and others had received confirmation that family members and friends were dead.  No matter their personal circumstances, all responded as would be expected under such circumstances (reduced sleep, invasive thoughts, inability to concentrate, spontaneous crying, etc).

As they became more comfortable with my presence in the 2nd week they opened up to different areas surrounding their crisis.  All agreed that they were watching way too much tv.  Seeing, hearing, reliving the experience was paralyzing them.  They talked of their feelings of guilt because they were safe, their inability to eat because their families/countrymen had little or no food,  the heat, the exposure, what if it rains? Would that be good? bad?  How will the children go to school?  Some blamed God.  Some wanted to know if I thought Haiti was cursed and was not meant to survive.

Shared humanity…….an experience without definition.

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