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“This just all seems like it’s not real.” Cynthia Rangel, EMT, Sutherland Springs, TX

“I’m a medical assistant and medical assisting does not prepare you for this.” Kevin Jordan, Sutherland Springs, TX

If a horrific tragedy is unreal and overwhelming to an EMT and a medical assistant, how can the rest of us possibly cope?

Eventually shooters are stopped. Brave people race in to rescue the wounded and hold the dying.

But how do we bandage the emotional wounds?

The brokenhearted include more than those on the scene, more than the the immediate families, and more than the surrounding community. The heavy-hearted may be across the country, across the world, or in your office.

Being present with someone in crisis can feel formidable, particularly in the workplace. Feeling ill equipped, we provide logical reasons to avoid the traumatized person.

  • I might say the wrong thing and make things worse. (It is almost impossible to make things worse; however, one way to avoid this concern is to listen frequently and advise seldom.)
  • It’s better if I don’t say anything to that person. Conversation might bring the tragedy to mind. (Do you really think that social isolation will freeze difficult circumstances out of a person’s brain? The crisis-laden person often craves simple, casual conversation.)
  • It’s better to leave all of this to professionals. (People who have been through a crisis are not a “walking condition”. They are human beings who are dealing with a tough time. You are not expected to make this person, or their circumstances, all better. Saying something brief, yet genuine, like “I am so sorry this has happened” is kind, but not intrusive. Kindness does not require a counseling degree.)
  • The workplace isn’t where you deal with emotions. The workplace is just for business. (Other than one run entirely by robots, a business involves people, including those going through challenging situations. Employers often enlist an expert to facilitate communication and maintain work flow when employees are dealing with a crisis. An organization builds trust and loyalty when they can count on open communication and respect, regardless of the circumstances.)

When in doubt, remember the Platinum Rule by Dr. Tony Alessandra. “Do unto others as they want to be done unto.” Using this guide daily provides the best emotional bandage of all.


Providing Practical Ways to Move through Crisis | Speaker & Author


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