Foundation, reminding you that a fully-integrated approach for assisting survivors of
traumatic loss involves a balance of head and heart. Wednesday Wisdom is written
and copyrighted by Carolyn V. Coarsey, Ph.D. and distributed by the Family
Assistance Education & Research Foundation Inc., fafonline.org. Reprint is available
with written permission from the Foundation.
Myth #6 – "Now that so many State, Federal and
Local authorities respond to mass casualty events,
does a company really need to send their own
employees to assist survivors and families?"
“The core experiences of psychological trauma are disempowerment and
disconnection from others. Recovery therefore is based upon the
empowerment of the survivor and the creation of new connections.”
– Judith Herman, American Psychologist
The above question refers to a growing myth that companies do not need to
provide their own employee responders when a tragedy occurs because so many
government and other agencies are there to assist those involved. The Foundation’s
long history of research and experience does not support that belief. In fact, the
author’s original, groundbreaking study of what was most helpful to people whose
lives are touched by tragedy revealed the beneficial effects of a caring response by
the organization involved.
While we believe that partnering with others is the answer, that doesn’t mean
organizations can or should outsource their own disaster, particularly as it relates to
the people who are impacted. Care Team or Special Assistance Team members
provide more than practical and logistical support; more importantly, they represent
an unmistakable message from the highest levels of the organization: that
customers, colleagues, and family survivors are a priority.
The regression that occurs in survivors during the early phase of crisis creates a
dependency that is best met by company representatives for best long-term healing
results. This is true for the customer as well as the employees who want to believe
in the leadership team they work for. Compassionate behavior can only be shown by
people, and when those people are sent by the company leadership, this speaks
volumes about who is behind the logo or brand of an organization.
Prior to establishing their own Care Team, an energy company president complained
that every tragedy involving one of their employees resulted in a lawsuit. Once the
company became proactive in sending Care Team members to assist survivors of
such crises, he was shocked to receive letters and cards from family members
praising him and his team for the support they received in the aftermath of the loss.
Interviews with survivors clearly show they appreciate help offered by federal, state
and local authorities and other agencies, but most believe that since it is those
organizations’ mission to assist during disasters, their support does not have the
same impact on survivors as when company representatives help. As one disaster
survivor said it, “The rescuers saved my life; the Care Team saved my spirit.”
“Our Duty is to be useful, not according to our desires; but according to our
– Henri F. Amiel, Swiss Philosopher
The emergency management leadership at every organization must ensure that
their plan provides for enough “boots on the ground” to deliver the type of
individual, personal care that all survivors need and deserve. And to ensure that
all resources are utilized well, including other agency personnel in drills and
exercises will go a long way in delivering the best service for all, including the
organization experiencing the tragedy.
© 2017 Higher Resources, Inc./Aviem International, Inc.
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