Responding to Incidents that are Politically Charged
December 3, 2015
We help people who have been through critical incidents every day. These incidents typically affect a relatively small group of people – a tight-knit group within a workplace, a company in general, or even a community. And although these incidents are not widely known beyond those most affected, that does not diminish the importance of the response we provide.
Other times, there are incidents that catch the attention of the nation. We respond to those too. We offer our support to the individuals affected by these incidents just as we always do. We care deeply about the affected individuals, their families, and the wider community.
Every critical incident causes people to think. Some think about themselves, about their family and their friends. Some ask the question, “What would I do if that happened to me?” This is expected. Many use these thoughts to foster their own passions and motivate others to support those affected.
Others think about solutions to the problem, “What could have been done to prevent this from taking place?” This isn’t a bad question to ask. Safety, security, and prevention are all important. In fact, they oftentimes stop critical incidents from being worse, affecting more people, or even happening altogether.
A note of caution. When an incident catches the attention of a wide group of people, controversy can arise. Political opinions and views come to light. Passionate people proclaim their beliefs. This is by no means the typical response to an event, but it is important to understand that it exists. It is also important to be prepared to respond when politically charged topics arise.
How do you prepare? First, don’t get caught up in a political discussion. Remember your role; you are there to help those particular people recover from that particular situation. When someone says, “This wouldn’t happen if…” instead of responding to their opinion of a proper solution, respond to the feelings and emotions you are seeing behind their statement. “It sounds like you’re feeling afraid since this has happened.” Redirect them towards the issue at hand – helping them and those around them get through this incident and come out on the other side.
The most important thing we can do in all instances is offer a helping hand. Our role is to help people. Individuals who are confused and hurting. People who need to believe in themselves and their own resiliency. People who need to trust that they will recover.