Source: ISRAEL21c Corporation
Ten days after the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, experts from the Israel Trauma Coalition arrived at the community to guide teachers and community leaders through a “day after” strategy for helping people face the future with resilience.
Seventeen people were killed in the shooting – 14 students and three staff members – making it one of the world’s deadliest school massacres. The community, which had never dealt with a shooting on this scale, was in shock.
“It was devastating,” says Nancy Teitelbaum, senior director of marketing and communications at Goodman Jewish Family Services of Broward County. “Everyone in our small community in Parkland is affected.”
“Most counselors, teachers and clinicians have never dealt with a mass shooting,” she told ISRAEL21c. “They have no frame of reference.”
That’s exactly what the Israeli team came to provide. ITC members Yotam Dagan from Natal Israel Center for Trauma and Resilience, and Alan Cohen from the Community Stress Prevention Center, led sessions for about 600 community leaders including clinicians, law enforcers, social workers, first responders, parents and clergy in the Parkland area.
“We got there the first day teachers went back to school and the day before students went back to school, so we were very relevant in teaching them how to handle that period with some kind of normalcy,” Dagan, a seasoned clinical psychologist, tells ISRAEL21c.
“The psychological shockwaves of the event have been tremendous. Almost everyone had a connection with someone on the scene. We met as many community members as we could, enabled them to talk about their trauma and then shared Israeli best practices for the day after.”
ITC professionals offer their expertise following crises across the globe. Currently, ITC is actively assisting communities in Houston in the wake of Hurricane Harvey last August; in Mexico after a deadly September earthquake; in Las Vegas following a mass shooting in October; and now in Florida.
The ITC was created in 2002, a year of unrelenting terror attacks in Israel, to harness the collective knowledge, expertise and experience of Israel’s governmental and non-governmental trauma management organizations.
Originally focused on direct care, the umbrella organization expanded to professional training for community resilience and national emergency preparedness in Israel and elsewhere. Thus far, ITC has sent 17 delegations abroad — usually two or three professionals from ITC partner organizations who speak the local language.
“Outside of Israel, 95 percent of the time we do not provide direct care,” Levanon explains. “It’s the local professionals who know the community and the culture. Our purpose is to train them in wellbeing, resilience and coping skills and provide tools to take care of themselves and others.
Read more at ISRAEL21c.