Shining a Light on Stress after Tragedies: First Responders Coping Mechanisms

July 18, 2018 08:12 PM

(ABC 6 News)-- There are no results yet from the autopsy that was scheduled on the body of a 7-year-old boy.

He was found hours after he wandered off in rural Dodge County Tuesday night.


Authorities say the boy's body was discovered in a deep part of Naylor pond; where he was last seen with friends.

The search and rescue turned recovery mission is taking its toll on many.

“We are put in situations most people will never see or understand… be able to rationalize even,” said Jared Oscarson, the Director of the Dodge Center Ambulance Service.

“We had three fire departments, two sheriff's departments, two or three police departments that were there,” said Matt Maas, the Dodge County Emergency Management Director.

The Dodge Center Ambulance Service, Olmsted County Sheriff's Office Dive Team, Minnesota State Patrol’s Helicopter and Mayo One also responded.

“You put it with ‘My 7-year-old niece or my family member or my brother, my mom, my dad’,” said Oscarson. “So any event you go on like that you're going to connect to somehow.”

Just before 8 p.m., the boy’s body was pulled from the water.

A day after, Maas was hard at work. “We will do a Critical Incident Stress Debriefing. We bring in outside teams to sit down and help us walk through the events,” he said.

Mass is in charge of scheduling the debriefs for all who responded; an estimated 50 to 70 people were on the scene.

Including Maas. “It really hits home,” he said. “I lost a son in a car crash a couple years ago so I can relate to a lot of these tragic situations.”

Maas says tragedies like these can leave first responders emotionally drained. “There’s been multiple different ambulance runs, medical calls, there's been fires, there's been motor vehicle crashes all in the same 24-36 hour time period around this call,” he said.

That’s why he says it's crucial to have support in place. Aside from the debriefs, members of the Chaplain program are meeting with first responders.

Because if not handled properly... “It does lead to PTSD, things like that going into the future,” said Maas.


Hannah Tiede

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