Sandy Hook Elementary Aftermath: Helping the Helpers
What happened during the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting?
On December 14, 2012, gunman Adam Lanza shot his mother at their home in Newtown, Connecticut, then proceeded to drive to Sandy Hook Elementary School with an assault weapon and shoot 20 children and six adults before ultimately taking his own life. The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, otherwise known as the Newtown shooting, was one of the deadliest and most horrific school shootings in American history, as it took the lives of innocent school children.
Recovering from workplace trauma: How R3c helped the helpers
While the shooting took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the act of workplace violence didn’t just affect those who were directly present at the event. The ripple effect of disruption from the tragedy impacted workplaces such as the call center, not to mention countless other employees within America who looked at their loved ones and thought, “that could’ve been my kid.”
R3c crisis consultants were assigned as “psychological first responders” to support employees at an EAP call center located about five miles from Sandy Hook Elementary School. Many of the employees at this call center were deeply connected to the community and school district and directly felt the impact of gun violence in their lives, both personally and professionally.
Residents of Sandy Hook dreaded the sight of police cars in front of a neighborhood home because there was a good chance it meant the family members had lost one of their young children. Seeing these sights and being in close proximity to the site of the school violence affected the behavioral and mental health of the EAP call center employees as they came to work each day.
Delivering psychological first aid after a mass shooting
R3c was called in to provide behavioral health support to the call center employees following the disruption of the active shooter incident. These employees needed direct support in order to function and remain operational during this time, something that was very difficult to do after the horrendous acts of violence.
When the R3c crisis consultants arrived, they set up drop-in sites at the call center to create safe spaces where employees could talk freely about their reactions with a consultant. The R3c crisis consultants offered support through conversations and crisis consulting, helping the employees to process the powerful emotions they were experiencing as a result of the mass murder of first graders.
What was the impact of R3c's support?
As a result of R3c’s behavioral health care, the EAP call center employees felt emotionally cared for and were able to maintain their ability to work during this time, as difficult as it was. Most importantly, R3c’s consultants helped the employees at the call center by providing them with a support system they could directly access at work, at times that worked for them. Without this support system, the employees may not have reached out on their own for extra behavioral health support and dealt with the grief and loss they were experiencing alone, impacting the quality of their lives and emotional well-being as well as their work environment.
Tragedies and acts of workplace violence don’t just affect the workplace they occur in. Don’t wait for an event like the Sandy Hook shooting to happen to know how you will support your people in the aftermath.