Resources available to help 1st responders deal with traumatic events like Dearborn Heights murders

Posted at 10:02 PM, Sep 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-21 22:02:26-04

When first responders arrived on the scene, some were traumatized finding the bodies of the two little girls and two teenagers.

Many of them will receive counseling after dealing with such a tragic case.

Dearborn Heights Police Chief Lee Gavin said, "It hits home, because you are dealing with young innocent children that still have a whole life to live."

A tragic incident like this can leave first responders traumatized.

A couple of the officers responding to the scene were rookies.

"They got a couple of months on the job and, if they are going to experience this right in the beginning, we want to make sure they are comfortable with their feelings," Gavin says.

James Ursitti is a Dearborn Heights firefighter and paramedic.

"There is not a member of this department that was on duty or off duty that wasn't affected by this run," he said.

Dearborn Heights Fire Department has a peer support team to help the paramedics who responded to the killings.

They say PTSD can be prevalent after events like this.

"There is triggers," Ursitti explained.  "There's sounds, sights, smells, even your kid playing in the backyard might trigger a response to a flashback or reliving some of the things that you did. The more things you have been on the sooner things that you've bottled up can occur."

Officials says peer support is effective because the team members can relate to those dealing with traumatic situations.

In Detroit, police officials started up a peer support team last year. They plan on reaching out to Dearborn Heights first responders to offer their services.

Sgt. Kimberly Gabriel is part of Detroit Police's Peer Support Team.

"It's normal to have feelings, even if they are not your family members or you don't know the people, it's normal to feel sad," she said.

The lone surviving victim, Faith Green, is expected to be assessed by the Beaumont Hospital, assigned a social worker and be given counseling through their spiritual support staff.