CDS Critical Response Care serves children, families affected by mass shootings




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By Lisa Crouch

Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) deployed two Critical Response Care teams at the request of Red Cross in response to two mass shootings in the past month. CDS Critical Response Care teams are specially trained CDS volunteers who work with children after an incident such as terrorism, transportation disasters, or mass casualty events.

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The first team was deployed to Gilroy, Calif., where the volunteers served 39 children within the Family Assistance Center. This team returned home after 6 days. The Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting resulted in 12 wounded and 3 people killed.

The second team was deployed to El Paso, Texas, to provide care for the children affected by the shooting in the Wal-Mart store that resulted in 24 wounded and 22 people killed. This team responded in El Paso for 7 days and had contact with 35 children.

One team member from the El Paso team stated, “I was honored to be part of a group of women who passionately serve. We were blessed.” Another stated, “So glad the Red Cross and the community of El Paso are there for the children and families impacted by this horrific tragedy.”

A third team was standing by to respond to Dayton, Ohio, in response to the shooting that occurred the same day as El Paso, but in the end was not deployed.

CDS is thankful for the dedicated volunteers willing to set aside their daily lives to deploy to these communities when the call comes. The Critical Response Care teams are faced with an increased intensity on these responses due to significant loss of life of those involved in the tragic event. A mental health clinician is either placed on the team or is on call to help support the team and the emotional response to this level of work. CDS office staff also are in close communication with the project manager throughout the response for encouragement and support.

To maintain respect for the families affected by these tragedies, CDS will not be reporting many details, but the teams did feel an impact was made on the children they served in both communities.

-- Lisa Crouch is associate director of Children's Disaster Services (CDS), a ministry with Brethren Disaster Ministries. Find out more about the ministry of CDS at www.brethren.org/cds .

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