The Effects of Trauma on Campus First Responders and Staff

Even if first responders and staff aren’t directly affected by a tragedy, they can still experience secondary trauma and develop PTSD.

After a traumatic event, hospital, school and university police and security officers, teachers, administrators and clinicians often are so focused on their students and patients that they forget about their own well-being. Even if campus first responders and staff aren’t directly affected by a tragedy, they can still experience secondary trauma and develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Unfortunately, many first responders think they are weak if they ask for help. They might also have an exaggerated sense of responsibility to victims.

According to Rick Levinson, Viviana Urdaneta and Viviana Triana, who are psychologists who specialize in the treatment of trauma, both of these responses to traumatic events may be symptoms of PTSD. Experiencing PTSD does not mean someone is weak or emotionally defective. Levinson, Urdaneta and Triana say, “it’s a brain thing” that often is the result of trauma.

At the Conference on Crimes Against Women (CCAW) that was held in Dallas April 4-6, 2016, these three psychologists discussed the impact and treatment of trauma for survivors, as well as all professionals who help survivors recover from tragedy.

In this video interview with Campus Safety magazine, Levinson, Urdaneta and Triana discuss these and other specific challenges faced by police officers, security officers, nurses, counselors, teachers and other professionals who respond to traumatic events in their communities, as well as the need for these individuals to get help when they experience trauma, either directly or indirectly.

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About the Author

robin hattersley headshot

Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

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