What would you do if you were a school superintendent and a beloved staff member completed suicide or a teenager was killed in a tragic accident? These are situations our school administration and staff face often. In fact, in the past year our school tragedy response team has responded to 4 different school crisis situations.
The team, headed by Chief Rick Skilliter and supported by the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board is made up of emergency responders, mental health professionals, school personnel, and community members who have been trained in critical incident stress management and in responding to and managing school crises. Recently many of the team completed a two day training on Managing School Crises.
41 people participated
Chief Skilliter and National Trainer Barb Ertl
The team has six goals for each response.
Re-establish a sense of safety and security in the school buildings
Normalize the day
Provide accurate information about the incident and available services
Attend to the needs of faculty and staff
Attend to the needs of students
Provide appropriate crisis response
The team leaders work with the school administrators as soon as possible to develop a plan that provides teachers with the tools they need to help their students deal effectively with the situation. The team is on hand to help assist students who are struggling. A mental health professional is on site to assess any students or faculty who may need more assistance.
At the end of the day, faculty and staff are offered a chance to diffuse; to talk about their own reactions and experience in order to make sure they are able to cope effectively with a very distressing situation.
The team also extends its help to parents and many have taken advantage of the opportunity to come in to the school and talk about the situation with team members in a facilitated group setting.
Once the team and school administration feel the situation is normalized, the team checks back frequently with the school to make sure everyone is OK.
Currently, the team has more that 100 trained members.
Our local school tragedy response team is being recognized as an effective means of responding to school crisis situations and Chief Skilliter has been asked to work with the State in implementing its statewide protocol.
We are so grateful to Chief Skilliter and to the team members who are willing to reach out and lend a hand of help and compassion to the administration, staff, students and parents in the schools in Allen, Auglaize, and Hardin Counties.