Due to the sensitive nature of the October 1st tragedy in Las Vegas, we have needed to handle public information-sharing differently than other disasters. However, we’d like to share a small part of the critical response deployment experience with you here:
In total, our partner, Children’s Disaster Services sent out two critical response teams with 13 responders including 5 child life specialists with CLDR: Bailea Scanlon, Samira Moosavi, Lindsey Murphy, Boon Murray, and Katie Nees. Each team member responded for one to two weeks.
The teams deployed together with the Red Cross to work in the Family Assistance Center (FAC). The FAC is a place where individuals/families can come for various needs and services including -but not limited to- retrieval of belongings left at the concert venue. There were 22,000 people attending the concert that night and the FAC was organized in a way to accommodate everyone with sensitivity and utmost care. Some individuals/families were in the facility for hours and some returned consecutive days for the multiple services provided. During their time in the FAC, our CDS team provided a safe space for the children with intentionally chosen toys for expressive play and processing.
As with every disaster situation, this one had it’s own differences and unique situations. Some of the items that children gravitated toward the most were the policeman, fireman and doctor toys. Many children played out rescues of people and captures of “bad guys” or “monsters” over and over again. It was quite an unbelievable honor to be allowed by the children to join them as they lead their play in the ways they needed most. Our team was also able to provide information on children and trauma to parents and caregivers.
As is the case with most deployments, this one was not an easy one. The five of us child life specialists are so grateful for our entire CDS team for all the support, laughing, crying, frustrating moments, and overwhelmingly moving moments we shared together. This is one we will never forget.