Our hearts also go out to all those injured or killed in Boston, Texas and MIT, etc...
First Responders have diligently been working for countless years making our country, our communities and our homes safer. There are no words powerful enough to express our gratitude to all of you for all of your sacrifices and efforts.
Please remember that during crisis everyone responding responds the best that they can with what they know and with what they have available. Sometimes people will second guess themselves. In hind sight there are often more options than in the moment, use this to condition yourself for future events (as a learning opportunity) and then let it go. Bring yourself back into the moment with confidence and new awareness. We cannot fully prepare ourselves for every event, it isn’t possible.
Sometimes after an event we can feel depression, self-doubt and very strong grief. If things get overwhelming please reach out for help. There are family, friends, colleagues, crisis hot lines and therapist that can assist you. You do not have to deal with these emotions and thoughts alone.
There are also techniques you can use to speed up recovery time of invasive thoughts, depression, physical pain, emotional and mental pain. EFT tapping (Emotional Freedom Technique) is a highly effective healing practiced used in pain clinics, the VA hospital for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and for many other injuries and forms of suffering. Again, you are not in this alone.
A note to families of First Responders: often times First Responders cannot share their feelings with their loved ones. Sometimes there is a strong need for them to keep things separate. Be patient; try not to take things personal. And continue to love and maintain safe and healthy boundaries within your relationships. You too are not alone. There are support groups, friends and family as well that can assist you in dealing with the tragedies that your loved one has witnessed or experienced. EFT tapping and other healing practices can assist you too. Be sure to take care of yourself.
A note to First Responders: please understand that loved ones are not trying to be invasive when they ask over and over if you are ok, they are also not seeing you as weak or broken, but it is in our human awareness that when a person witnesses or experiences tragedies they can often be adversely impacted. Please don’t take their attention as negative, rather know that it is an act of love and compassion and a sign of their support.
A note to all (First Responders and their loved ones): Keep communication as open as possible. If you need space, ask for it and also honor that the other person may need quality time. Try to find a healthy balance and do your best to heal yourself first, do daily acts of self-care and to be as compassionate with yourself as you are with your loved ones.
While there truly is not such a thing as crime prevention and accident prevention there are numerous ways to greatly lower risks. If prevention were absolutely possible we would not have accidents or violence probably at all. But it’s important to know that most accidents and even much of the violence that occurs can be prevented or at least the damages can often be minimized.
We are including some tips below as a reminder of things you can do before, during and after tragic events that could very well safe your life and or the lives of those around you, as well as prevent or lower other forms of suffering or loss.
Before an event:
· Practicing quality Martial Arts (especially traditional forms) can significantly increase your: awareness, response time, quality of your responses, focus, clarity, and your safety choices amongst many other benefits. (Try Oregon Martial Arts Society as a resource/school) https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Oregon-Martial-Arts-Society/183005635165174
· Keep up on current First Responder courses such as American Heart Association courses. (Check out our “Health & Safety” tab for courses).
· Take courses such as: conflict resolution, inner-personal communication, assertive communication and how to deal with traumatized individuals; to name a few. (Check out our “Classes & Workshop” tab or go to your local community college or OSHA for classes) There are often many resources available in communities, some are even offered for free.
· Find ways to stay current on your skills: you can take refresher courses, practice with other students from your classes or work place, and be mindful of your skill use during daily life situations.
· Google: “safety tips” and find categories to pursue in your free time
· Stay aware of your surroundings: don’t be paranoid, but calmly & wisely be aware
· Do things that lower stress: meditate, do yoga, practice Ti Chi, practice Martial Arts, spend time in nature, spend time away from TV and other electronics. Spend time with positive people.
· Other suggestions: play, have fun, if you’re an adult enjoy sexual relations with your partner (safe sex of course), laugh a lot and smile often
· Do things that improve your health: take fitness classes, work out, eat healthy, prepare your meals at home, do stretches or sit ups during commercials or while waiting on food to cook. Drink more water. Eat more produce. Do the research and find what will fit you.
· Stop doing things that risk your health, stress levels and your focus. Such as: stop smoking, stop eating fast food or at least eat way less of it, stop drinking soda or excessive alcohol, stop complaining and stop watching a lot of negative programming such as the news.
· Make choices of what seeds you are planting in your life and what seeds you are nourishing. For example: if you want to increase your response time visualize an event where you need to respond quickly, see yourself responding appropriately and quickly, do activities each day that support those actions. Another example: if you want to see yourself responding to others more assertively, understand what that would look like to you, surround yourself with others that often respond assertively, read books and articles and things that constantly bring yourself into that mindset.
· In other words: instead of inundating yourself with things you do not want, inundate yourself with things you do want. How you invest your time and your actions will make a huge difference in how safely and otherwise affectively you live you life.
· For your work, community and events know what risks are possible: in your free time look up local policy & protocol for bomb threats, snipers, natural disasters and other possible local hazards. Don’t become paranoid or obsessed; simply become informed for what is relevant for your work or location.
· Become and stay aware of your body, your abilities and your level of knowledge
· Be willing to do simple steps daily, weekly or at least monthly to improving yourself.
· The more your know yourself and the healthier and more aware you are, the safer you can be.
· Remaining calm & confident are two of the keys to successful response
During an event:
· Check and make sure the scene is safe.
· Stay aware of the scene at all times as it may change
· Call for help
· Utilize help when it is available
· If the person or people trying to help are making things worse or increasing risks for other dangers; be assertive and ask them to stop, redirect them if possible. If you know what you are doing, take charge.
· If you do not know what you are doing, do your best and when another more skilled responder comes along, be willing to follow directions.
· If you don’t know what it is, don’t touch it. (Avoid chemical hazards or bombs or any other possible dangers)
· Wear protective gear if it is available (1 second to put on protective gear can make a huge difference for all involved for years to come)
· Never put yourself at risk when saving someone as this could then create two or more victims that will then need rescuing
· Be aware of all safety hazards in the area: Chemicals, weapons, traffic, power lines, etc.
· If there is a bomb threat stay off mobile phones & radios and use land lines. Follow the local plan for bomb threats.
After an event:
· Be mindful of substance use: after a tragedy addiction can easily sneak up on a person. Using substance as a form of coping can quickly lead to health issues, financial issues, relationship issues and ultimately more tragedies.
· Be mindful of self-talk: how you talk to yourself and about yourself can lead to low self-esteem and to forms of self-sabotage. Everyone has “failures” and “successes” but those do not define you. They are learning opportunities but do not get caught up in them as a form of identity. Know that you are valuable exactly as you are.
· Be mindful of how you talk to others: after tragic events emotions and energy can run strong and without much effort hurtful things can be said. We cannot take back our words or negative actions. We can be forgiven but our words and actions can have a lasting affect on others.
· Return to life as usual as soon as possible.
· Depending on the circumstances: slightly or seriously increase your self care and awareness of your resources and support system.
· If you are struggling with flashbacks or invasive thoughts and do not feel that you can talk to your loved ones, be sure to contact a therapist, doctor, crisis hot line or if relevant your VA hospital.
· Access resources as needed: trying to ‘be strong” can actually weaken you. Vulnerability, honestly and willingness to do the work towards healing are actually the strongest things you can do and will make you even stronger in the process.
· Be willing to follow through on self-care no matter how inconvenient or silly it seems. There is always time when you prioritize your life. Make healing and strengthening yourself more important than watching TV, playing video games, or any other things that may be taking up a lot of your time.
· Go back to doing the things included in the “Before an event” list.
· It’s ok to struggle after a tragic event
· It’s ok to ask for help
· It’s ok to be fine and a long time down the road find that issues have come up… just deal with them when and if they come.
· It’s also ok to be fine if you are really fine… some people just are fine
Thank you for all of your hard work and dedication to making our world a safer place. YOU make a differience!
Your actions are turning negatives to possitive, one step at a time.