It is with a heavy heart that I send this message out to our NEHA members and credential holders on the shooting tragedy that occurred yesterday in San Bernardino. Events like this affect all of us in varying degrees, and we understand that in a tight-knit community such as ours, these impacts will hit many of us close to home.
Our profession is often on the giving end of ensuring that others are safe. In light of this very tragic situation, I encourage you to allow yourself to be on the receiving end to consider your own well-being and safety.
Today, our first course of action is to create the conversation and acknowledge that public and environmental health workers don't have to be directly involved in an incident in order to have emotional reactions to a recent event. Just the connection of being in the same field can elicit these responses.
We are here to support and encourage you to take steps that help in traumatic situations. Initiate a dialogue about this event; allow staff to talk about their feelings; urge them to let someone know if they are having strong reactions to the events that just occurred and reach out to someone for support. Ensure available resources are communicated such as workplace employee assistance programs, supervisors, other staff, family, friends, clergy, or their primary care physician.
We have posted some resources on our website for dealing with disasters. This recent event would be defined as a "disaster" so these resources are entirely appropriate and should be utilized. We are grateful to Jack Herrmann, from Institute of Medicine The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, for providing us with this information to share with all of you. Please check our website for updated information and resources in the coming week. We also invite you to comment on the NEHA blog to share and connect with your fellow colleagues.We hope you take the time to take care of yourselves and realize the importance of these coping strategies.
Our heartfelt sympathies go to all the friends, family, and coworkers of the San Bernardino shooting victims. Please know that we are here to support you and see us as a community with whom you can share these difficult times.
David T. Dyjack, Dr. PH, CIH
Executive Director & CEO