Monday, September 28, 2015

Trauma, Society, and Awareness

Twice in my career, they've made trauma counselors available to us. Once after 9/11, and again after Hurricane Rita. I don't recall trauma counselors after Columbia's re-entry.

Really, I think everyone in the United States was traumatized by the 9/11 events, although for many of us the shock came at some remove.



After Rita, one of the things they pointed out, was that the evacuation itself was traumatic, and traumatic to millions of people across the entire city. It drew out for hours upon hours. Many, many people got caught, stuck on the Katy Freeway (I-10 East). Cars ran out of gas, there were stories of a booth made from held-up towels so that people could pee in private, out on the freeways.

Even though my story doesn't have the dramatic "we ran out of gas and got stuck on the side of the road," it was stressful. It was scary to think that we might return home to nothing.


So I'm thrilled to read about the efforts to make schools more trauma-aware. I understand from a Facebook comment that there may not be a consistent definition of what trauma-awareness means. That programs vary both in content and effectiveness.

Here are a few articles on the subject that Google pulled up. I'm a layperson here, not a professional in the subject. I am not qualified to evaluate these as recommendations, but places to consider if you want to learn more:

Those articles discuss the situation for schools, but adult employees can also be traumatized. It may be national events like the 9/11/2001 attacks, it might be regional events, like the evacuation of Houston. They may be veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, either suffering Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or a Traumatic Brain Injury.

Whatever the cause of the situation, it's important that we build a society that can does not double down on trauma victims. (Yeah, I’m a Victim. What About It?) It's important that all responsible adults (parents, teachers, managers, pastors, police officers, etc.) learn about ways to handle trauma responses, and work on our skills to de-escalate the situation.