From the Chaplain:
Concern for the Rescuers
Just the other day, a child’s glove lay on the blacktop of the supermarket parking lot, drawing my attention as I made my way toward the entrance. I considered retrieving it but decided it was pretty much past cleaning and repair and, besides, there was no way to get it back to its owner. I did notice it, however, and I was taken by the little proportions, a hand half the size of mine. Other than that, though, I was too not much affected by the sight and I kept on moving towards the store.
But later on, I reflected on the common experience of spying something so familiar, something attractive (in the way of drawing our attention to it), something interesting, something meaningful in the otherwise humdrum chores of regular, day-to-day life. Everyone has seen such things. They’re out there everywhere.
If, however, a police officer – who had at some time given assistance at the scene of serious injury or death that involved a child – … If such a person should have come upon that same little glove in that same parking lot, the effect might have been a “flash back,” a sudden reliving of a moment of horror with all of its terror, revulsion, sorrow, and even panic. The shopping chore so normal to everyone else could become a debilitating time of anxiety, of wanting to quit “the job,” of running from responsibility and the pain that goes with it. The same would apply to an Emergency Medical Technician, a Fireman, a Nurse, or a Doctor. Critical Incident Stress is a serious problem as it affects the emotional well being of those who try to help the people of our towns, counties, cities, or state.
Emergency assistance departments have begun to realize the threat of CIS on its personnel and have started to make sensitive counselors available, hoping to lessen the damage that can come to such a worker and avoid the resignations that so often come when the stress breaks the helper’s spirit. The results have been encouraging and the loss of well trained, experienced emergency workers has been lessened. My tradition is influenced by Martin Luther who taught that, when we pray “give us this day our daily bread,” such people as these (who are often harried by stress) are the very ministers God sends to help us when the chaos of accident, violence, or destruction threatens our lives or the lives of those we love, restoring the peace that is required for us to have our bread, all that we need for life day to day. If we agree with this insight, we must pray also for our police, fire fighters, soldiers, sailors,… rescuers from every conceivable department of assistance. For in them God responds to our needs when our need is greatest.
Another “New Year” marks a whole new opportunity to consider the days, months, and years that God gives us as a blessing. We are living therefore with a whole new chance to give thanks for God’s gracious care and to remember, in prayer with thanksgiving, all those who suffer stress as they assist us in terribly dangerous times. They are our rescuers. We must feel a sense of awe for their work. Some of us might feel a need to pray for them. May you “all of you” be blessed in the upcoming new year, 2013.
Chap. James G. Anderson