Emergency Vs. Crisis

Let’s look at the difference between an emergency and a crisis.

An emergency is something that happens that needs immediate attention. So your kid’s broke his arm. That’s gonna cause a little bit of a disruption of your life. But it’s not a long-term event. The difference is, yes we have to take care of it immediately. We have to go. You had it X-rayed. There’s going to be a cast. There’s going to be some inconvenience. But it doesn’t disrupt every single moment of your life for right now. The difference is a crisis does. If someone dies, you’re looking at that as a long-term effect. That person now is no longer in your life. When that happens… How do I pay the taxes? How do I do grocery shopping? Whatever their tools and their tasks were, now those have to be taken up by someone different. So a crisis is a long-term impact on what life is going to be like where an emergency as a short-term situation that needs to be taken care of immediately but it’s not going to affect the rest of your life.

But how do we define the magnitude? Research tells us that when a catastrophic event takes place, a flood or fires, earthquakes. Those types of things that affect a large-scale amount of people is when a disaster is at its worst. You see when catastrophic events happen, there’s a very small percentage that are physically injured or that have died compared to the amount of emotional impact that it takes on people.

The other thing that makes an incident more impactful is when children are involved. If a child is killed in an incident. In a critical crisis incident, not only is their parents involved but also the firefighters that are trying to save them. The police department, the onlookers, the children that are in school with that child, the teacher, the soccer coach. Everyone is affected when a child’s involved. You’ll find that the services for children are significantly larger than for a middle-aged or even an older person. Why? Because we can all think back to ourselves, ‘What if it was my child?’ And you feel so bad for those people. So as a trained professional in crisis intervention, and knowing God’s promises, you walk alongside those parents. You walk alongside those teachers, those other children, to help them cope with what they’re doing and what they’re going through. How do you respond to that classroom? How do you respond to that soccer team? How are the other brothers and sisters doing? As someone who’s trained to go through that, which we’re going to explore, you can make a difference. You can help them understand that what they’re going through right now is normal and give them tools to cope with the next day.

Living in a Broken World

We live in a broken world. That should be obvious. Things are hard. There’s financial struggles, there’s housing collapses, there’s floods, there’s fires, but there’s also the death. How do we cope with those things? Knowing what to do when people are stressed, when they are emotionally on edge, is an amazing gift. The Good Samaritan story from the Bible tells us that we’re to assess and look at those situations, to recognize those that need help. That’s what we’re doing here. It is the biggest gift that you can give someone. Acknowledging that they’re in pain, being there ready to listen, being open, and being available. And that doesn’t mean just physically being there. That means looking at them. Really truly, opening up your heart. Allow the Holy Spirit to come through and be their cushion, be their safe place. That is what we’re trying to do and that’s what teaching does for us.

Shelly's Story

In this video we will cover:

  1. My own story and how I learned about Crisis firsthand.

So how did I get here? Why did I become a chaplain? Why did I get involved in trauma care in the first place? For me, we have to travel back to Christmas of 2011.

We get a phone call in the middle of the night. It says, “Your step-sister’s been shot. Can you come to the house?”
My response is “Of course, yes”. Hanged up the phone, dash out, get to my parents’ house. But only my mom is there, dad’s not there. Where is he? What’s going on? “We don’t know,” that’s what she says. “We don’t know where the boys are,” my nephews. My dad’s gone to the police station. We’re waiting.

The police said to wait, so we’re waiting. We’re confused, we have no idea what’s going on. Phone calls start to come in, going, “Why are you there? Why aren’t you here? What’s going on?” We don’t understand, people are screaming at us on the phone wanting to know what kind of parent you are, what are you doing? So we just get in the car and we go to the police station.

I guess I should have looked back on what was going on. But I was in trauma, we were in the middle of a crisis. You can’t think, you don’t understand, you don’t know, life is spinning out of control.
Seems like hours have gone by and yet it’s only been minutes and sometimes I think something just happened and it happened hours ago.
We get to the station, we’re asking for help, we’re asking for support, we want to know what’s going on, no one’s around to help us and those that do come, they cry. They go “oh my gosh, we’re so sorry.” At this point we don’t even know what they’re sorry for. You see media was involved, it was all over social media and yet us, the family, the intimate family had no clue that my step-sister had been murdered. She had been brutally tortured, taken captive and murdered. We didn’t understand, we didn’t know, we were screaming, literally, for answers in the police station. “Somebody come talk to us, somebody tell us what’s going on.”

Finally someone came down and said “How can I help you?”
“How can you help us? You’ve told us to be here, you need to tell us what’s going on.”
“Oh, well, you know she’s dead, right?”

That was how we found out. There had to be a better way. I watched my family collapse literally on the floor. You know the stories of foaming at the mouth? They’re true, it’s real.
My nephew’s actually had been found, they forgot to tell us. They were in an interrogation room trying to figure out what they knew and what they didn’t know. They finally come running down the stairs. We had told the police, “We want to tell them ourselves that their mom’s dead.” They forgot. We were still wandering around saying “Help us, tell us what’s going on, can you tell us how to tell the boys? Can you tell us how to respond?”
He said “Well, we, we could find you some help.” “Make them be here, please. Give us somebody to talk to.” They didn’t, they couldn’t, it wasn’t available.

It took about 18 months for me to get through the trial, get through other things, help support my family. But, not feeling like I had the tools necessary to give them hope, to tell them what was going on. It’s bad enough that this took place, but the way people treated us, the way they responded to us…it’s not because they didn’t care, it’s because they didn’t know. They didn’t understand what we were going through.

They didn’t know the behaviors that we were exhibiting were normal in this horrific abnormal situation that we found ourselves in.

That’s why we need to be trained, we need to understand what emotional first aid is.
To be able to walk alongside someone, provide the support, to give them the hope that they can get through the next minute, the next hour, the next day.

So what do we do? Me being who I am…there’s gotta be a better way.
If there’s any good that can come out of this, if God really does answer those prayers, “Direct me, Lord, show me the way.”

So after seven years now I’ve become a chaplain, I’ve gotten trained. I have a tendency to go overboard and find out as much information as possible and realized there’s biblical truths and there’s psychological, true hard evidence truths, but they weren’t together. So, I brought them together, to provide hope, to know that God’s promises are real and that we can survive.
Yes, my step-sister was murdered in cold blood and tortured. My families forever changed, but not all families have to go through that.

We’re going to make a difference just by being trained to walk alongside someone and say, “You’re not going crazy. There is support. There is help. Let’s find a way.”

What Is Emotional First-Aid?

Defining Emotional First Aid

We start the journey by defining one of the most important concepts in crisis care, emotional first aid. You will learn how to respond after a crisis event and to help someone take the next steps to find hope and healing in the process.

  1. Aftermath of large scale event
    • Clean up Process
    • How Do You Cope
    • Prioritize the Thinking Process
    • Psychological Truths That Give You Hope for Tomorrow
      • Give them opportunities to talk without judgment
      • Support and provide a path back to hope

What is emotional first aid?  Have you ever taken a CPR course? Most people have. But if you ask how many people have actually performed CPR in an emergency situation, the number is very few. Now think about emotional first-aid. Can you imagine how many people that you could help by just having the tools needed to respond to those that are in crisis? What we’re trying to do is prevent a secondary crisis.  So the event takes place. Your child’s in a car accident.You go to the emergency room. There are people running all over there, trying to save the life of your child. But what happens next? You’re pushed to the side. So they’re doing the life-saving event. You spin out of control.  Wouldn’t it be great to have that person that walks alongside of you, comes in it, says, “Everything else is taken care of. Your other daughter’s been picked up from school, all’s good. I’m here to help you.” Providing that emotional first-aid prevents a secondary injury which can magnify the experience of your current crisis.

So emotional first-aid comes into play when you come into the aftermath of a catastrophic, large-scale event and walk alongside those people to help them. What do we look for? Where do you do with insurance? How do I cope? What’s the cleanup process? All of those things are overwhelming when you first walk in. But when you have someone that’s trained, and they walk alongside of you, they take notes, they prioritize, they keep you thinking in the right process.  That person is the one that’s going to be your support system. It’s going to help you stay balanced and focused, and be able to help you get the answers you need so that you can take care of your child that’s your primary concern. That’s emotional first-aid. When that walks alongside you to keep you balanced, to give you hope. That’s the whole idea. Coming up with psychological methods along with God’s Word that’ll give them hope for a better tomorrow. You see when we walk alongside people and we give them the opportunity to express their emotions in a safe place where we’re not judging, where we’re not coming up with things you should do, advising, but we’re just there… we call the ministry of presence. That is your safest, your most loving gift that you can give someone that is in crisis. You’re the one that’s there to support them and provide them with a path back to hope.