Too close to home. San Bernardino is too close to home.
As a psychologist and the owner of an educational company that focuses on matters of communication and safety, I have trained First Responders on how to engage and communicate with those who have unique circumstances – such as Autism or Deafness. I have trained thousands of emergency responders how to help evacuate people who don’t communicate verbally, use sign language or don’t speak English as their first language. Most of the practice scenarios were in case of an earthquake. tornado or vehicular accident.
But yesterday it wasn’t a practice scenario. It wasn’t a workshop video.
Yesterday it was REAL LIFE.
Real people. Real suffering. Real blood. Real tears.
Yet unreal. Surreal.
While my eyes were affixed on CNN and the reporters – I couldn’t help but notice the people in the background. The First Responders I trained were there. On TV. Helping so many of the helpless who had been shot by two or more assailants. There they – my students – evacuating those with functional needs and their caretakers. WOW!
Everything seemed to be going according to protocol. I was so impressed!
But then I realized that there was a question gnawing at me.
WHY did the First Responders have to practice what they learned at all?
Oh wait… let me answer my own question…
First – We don’t address mental health needs in this country. We often have programs in place that are less than effective. We don’t staff mental health centers with enough service providers. We often don’t use multi-modal treatment plans. We don’t have enough resources to help those who need help. Ask anyone who works in public mental health if they have enough of what they need to help their clients and I bet they say. “no”.
Secondly – We have easy access to guns and copious amounts of ammunition. Please don’t quote me the right to bear arms stuff. I know all of that. Any 8th grader who has taken an exam on the US history knows that. What I am asking is WHY do we need to have as many guns in homes as we have cars? Why don’t we have stricter laws about guns? Why can’t we find a solution vs. spinning our proverbial wheels about guns?
Lastly – We don’t teach people in life that disappointment is part of LIFE and not a reason TO TAKE A LIFE.
So a HUGE thank you to ALL First Responders who risk their lives everyday. And to their families who know that when the alarm sounds their loved one is going towards the disaster vs. away.
Now folks- let’s stop talking and start doing! Demand constructive changes that SAVE LIVES. Let San Bernardino not be another example of the “new normal”.