WW58 April 25, 2018: The Role of Schema in Survivor Response: From the Cruise Line Employee’s Perspective Part II

Wednesday Wisdom Series: The Role of Schema in Survivor Response: During and Following Traumatic Experiences Part II
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Here is your bi-monthly Wednesday Wisdom series from the Family Assistance
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., www.fafonline.org. Reprint is
available with written permission from the Foundation. 
The Role of Schema in Survivor Response: 
From the Cruise Line Employee's Perspective 
Part II
Wednesday Wisdom Heart 

Several years ago when a cruise ship listed, passengers and crew members
were tossed about with great force, resulting in several serious and nearly 300
minor injuries. Over several hours the crew responded to the injured onboard,
including many of their peers, and eventually evacuated over 2000 passengers. 
The uninjured employees continued on to their next port and within twenty-four
hours took on an entire new group of guests…continuing their work. 

Several months later, many of these employees were asked to participate in a
training program designed to help them respond compassionately to guests in
crises on board their ships. The employees met the guest care training with
resistance. They expressed resentment toward a program designed to help them
become more sensitive to guests, when they felt they had been abandoned after a
crisis where they had been traumatized.
They described their own experiences during the listing and talked about how their
assumptions of safety on ships had changed. Visions of the ship tilting on its side
haunted many and interfered with their daily duties. Many were bothered by the
sounds of breaking glass and other memories that resulted from the incident.
While these employees had continued in their careers, they were having
problems with adjusting to their life on ships after the crisis. One employee
expressed it this way, “The class of ships that we work today are just are not
supposed to do that!”

Wednesday Wisdom Head

While it is easy to take employees' needs for granted once the safety of the public is
assured, leadership would do well to consider their needs and fears once the
immediate threat is over. In the case of the listing, while most of the employees
carried on with their jobs and never complained, their vision of how things were
supposed to be was greatly impaired and they may have suffered unnecessarily.  
When asked what they would have appreciated on the part of management after
they had served the public, and continued their work, their suggestions were
simple, but wise. “Just having someone from management meet us when we
reached the next port of call before we took on the new passengers would have
really made us feel valuable to the company and important.” Another employee
said that just as the phone lines were open for the passengers to call home, the
employees should have had the same privilege of making free phone calls to
their own loved ones, but they were not. Probably the most important and
easiest action which would have cost nothing, had to do with giving the employees
who wanted to get off the ship for a few minutes, the opportunity to debark and
briefly touch solid ground. 

Adjusting to risks that had not been considered before, like the listing discussed
above, takes energy and commitment on the part of the employees who choose to
continue their careers after a crisis. As expressed by the employees, knowing that
their performance is appreciated and recognized goes a long way in bolstering the
self-esteem needs which drives their on-the-job performance during crises as
well as peacetime.

Americas Member-Partner Meeting, Miami, FL, June 21-22, 2018
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© 2018 Higher Resources, Inc./Aviem International, Inc.
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