Getting that call is every parent’s worst nightmare: “There’s an active shooter at your child’s school.”

Imagine dropping everything you are doing, racing to your child’s school, pulling up in shock to a see of blue lights washing over the landscape, and trying to sort through the chaos to get to your child.

Now imagine a slight variation on that scenario. Instead of getting a call, you hear the call from a dispatcher over your two-way radio. You drop everything you are doing, race to your child’s school, and pull up in shock, the blue lights from your cruiser washing over the landscape.

What if you were a law enforcement officer, and you were called to respond to an active shooter incident at your child’s school? What if it was your job not only to sort through the chaos and get to your child, but to help other parents and officials make sense of the chaos, and communicate effectively?

That appears to have been the case in one of the latest school shootings. One student was killed and three others were wounded in a shooting at Freeman High School in Freeman, Wash., on Sept. 13.

Trooper Jeff Sevigny, the state patrol’s public information officer for much of Eastern Washington, was among those called to respond to the scene.
“Worst day in my LE career.  To respond to your own kids school for active shooter.  Prayers for everyone involved. #FreemanHS” Sevigney tweeted using his handle, @wspd4pio.

Sevigney has not offered further comment since the tweet.
Trauma from active shooter events isn’t limited to those who are physical victims of the violence. The psychological impacts run deep, for those who witnessed the violence, to friends and family members, to first responders.

Years after the Sandy Hook school shootings in Connecticut, first reponders were still struggling to come to grips with the grief and horror of that day. 

While ample resources are available to help equip first responders administer psychological first aid, resources aimed at helping first responders recover is harder to find.

First responders who are struggling with sleep problems, difficulty focusing, recurring thoughts, anxiety, numbness, or abuse of substances should seek out help from a professional counselor trained to treat trauma.