As the death toll of the Pulse Orlando shooting victims continues to rise. People are left to wonder how they can help.
It is human nature to want to help when we see a mass crisis. The Pulse Orlando shooting is being called the largest mass shooting in American history. The magnificence of what has happened, especially as it bumps up against the highly-charged political climate, is overwhelming. It seems like it was just yesterday that I was writing a piece on how to help the survivors of the Umpqua Community College shooting.
I am about to share tips to help the Pulse Orlando shooting victims who have survived, their families and the families and friends of those who didn’t survive. The sheer numbers of people affected is staggering. Just like the loss of life and impact on families on 9/11, chances are someone knows someone who is directly connected to someone involved in the crisis.
What I am going to say is not unlike what I share on my podcast. There is no crisis Kool Aid. These tips aren’t shockingly revolutionary. They are practical and often times seemingly insignificant, but when you add them together, they will have a big impact on the overall outcome of this crisis.
This post is a real-life account of what was happening in the hospital in the moments following the shooting. There are key things we can use as a reference for how to help the victims and the families of the Pulse Orlando shooting. America is a lot like this trauma team- We play different roles in the support team. Whether or not you have direct access to the families, you do have access to being of help. You do have the capability to work as an American team for the good of the people.
Helping victims of a senseless situation whether it be from a natural disaster, war or a brutal attack creates a sense of power in a powerless situation.
There are practical things that can be done to help.
- Give Blood: In this case, there has been no shortage of blood donations but it is often a much needed resource during a mass casualty crisis.
- Volunteer: There are any number of ways to get in and help. Red Cross, local volunteer opportunities with FEMA or other organizations. Often times translators are a big need in a crisis, especially in helping people understand medical treatment plans.
- Lend support to families if you know them personally: When crisis hits, families start the cycle of trauma. It has five components 1. Shock and Disbelief 2. Bargaining 3. Anger 4. Depression 5. Acceptance. Most likely you are going to encounter families in shock and disbelief. You don’t need to solve the issue for them. Just be there and listen. Cater to their immediate needs and know that just simply being there is enough. You don’t have to do anything, just be with them.
On a much bigger scale, there are things that you can do to support the Pulse Orlando community as a whole.
These tips are taken from my post after the Umpqua Community College shooting
- Families may not be able to articulate what they need in the early days following the crisis. As the hours go by, families will slip into a state of shock and disbelief and in doing so, they may exhibit erratic and hysterical behavior. Some people react withdrawn and angry, while others may become hysterical and inconsolable. Make it possible for the families to grieve; realize that your presence speaks louder than anything else. You may not be able to alleviate the pain but you can help in indirect ways. Close friends and family can be of assistance by taking the lead in managing every day tasks that are required despite the upheaval. Making sure animals are fed and cared for, calls are screened and children are distracted, reduces the stress on families who have very little capacity to cope.
- Respect the privacy and grief time-line of the families affected. In the days after a critical event, families are oftentimes under pressure to make decisions they are not prepared for. Coping with the death of a loved one is difficult in and of itself and it is magnified when the issue is public. In addition to funeral arrangements, families are bombarded with news and social media. Fielding all of the attention is exhausting and compounds the stress families are under. The community can offer support by respecting the family’s boundaries and allowing them time to digest what is happening.
- Be of service within the community. Nothing brings a community together faster than a public tragedy. This energy should be directed towards positive activities that promote healing and community solidarity. Volunteer your services to local agencies that have infrastructure in place for helping. Being of service displaces pent up energy, anxiety and anger caused by the unexpected violence.
- Resist the urge to lash out. The media can be informative and it can generate hate and drama. Avoid social media that encourages hateful commentary and discord. Tragedy brings out the best and the worst in people. Stand together as a community and disengage from any commentary that is designed to separate the community. As accusations fly about the shooter, his or her affiliations and their families, it is important to remember that the family of the shooter is in as much shock and pain as the families of the victims.
- Maintain connection with the families over time. As the impact wanes over time, families are often left to manage their emotions and pain on their own. It is typical for communities to offer support in the hours and days following an incident; care must be taken to stay connected after things have normalized within the community. Long after the initial shock has worn off, families remain impacted with grief, pain and loss. Maintaining a connection with the families in the months after the incident will be very beneficial.
This tragedy is going to take it’s toll on America as the war rages on about gun control, Radical Islam, Immigration, the presidential election and it’s candidates. All of that is irrelevant for a moment. What is relevant is supporting people from all faith’s, all economic strata, all countries and all lifestyles as they manage the long-standing affects of the Pulse Orlando shooting.
Here is the most recent listing I could find of the people who have passed from the Pulse Orlando shooting. My God blesses every one of them and so do I.