Educators and first responders learn to respond to mass casualty

Educators and first responders learn to respond to mass casualty events

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Dr. Robin Gurwitch says that coordination needs to extend beyond the school system and into the community. Dr. Robin Gurwitch says that coordination needs to extend beyond the school system and into the community.
"It makes my heart very, very happy that we care so deeply for the children of Knox County. Just thrill my heart," said Knox County Schools Supervisor of Psychological Services Clovis Stair. "It makes my heart very, very happy that we care so deeply for the children of Knox County. Just thrill my heart," said Knox County Schools Supervisor of Psychological Services Clovis Stair.
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By DREW GARDNER
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Last year's deadly shootings in Aurora, Colorado and at Sandy Hook Elementary reignited a fear in many that these tragedies can happen anywhere.

Many now question whether they are prepared to deal with the aftermath. One group especially sensitive to that aftermath is children.

Dr. Robin Gurwitch, a psychologist with Duke University and member of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, held a conference Tuesday for educators, first responders and any other group that interacts with children.

"When a trauma happens, all of those systems that serve children need to be able to respond," said Dr. Gurwitch.

Dr. Gurwitch says the most important thing is making sure those groups are armed with the same tools needed to make an early response.

"If we don't know what we're looking at and if we don't understand reactions and if we don't understand what we can do to support them immediately, short-term and long-term, then the outcome is not as positive as if we were all on the same page at the beginning," said Dr. Gurwitch.

Several members of the Knox County School System were also present to make sure they are working together the best way possible to benefit students.

"We have social workers, counselors and psychologists here today, because we work in a coordinated effort to respond in our schools if there's a student death, if there's a death of a staff person, if there's a tragedy on the community," said Knox County Schools Supervisor of Psychological Services Clovis Stair.

But Dr. Gurwitch says that coordination needs to extend beyond the school system and into the community, which is why she says the turnout at the conference is so important.

"It makes my heart very, very happy that we care so deeply for the children of Knox County. Just thrill my heart," said Stair.

If you would like more information about helping children through traumatic events, visit the National Child Traumatic Stress Network's website.

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