EDITORIAL: Volunteer for crisis teams

By Observer editorial September 20, 2013 11:04 am

Sometimes you have to look a long way — say France or Finland — to find good ideas. Sometimes you just have to look a little way.

Take critical incident response teams that help schools and communities cope with serious accidents or deaths. A model for how to do it lies just over the Blue Mountains, in Umatilla and Morrow counties. Members of the InterMountain Education Service District Flight Team played an instrumental role last January and February in helping students, faculty and staff in the La Grande School District cope with the loss of a 
La Grande High School student who committed suicide.

Now, local schools and communities will have their own Flight Teams. This will improve response time, which is critical in crisis, and fill an important local need.

People who could help should sign up for the three days of intense training coming Oct. 7-9. Prospective team members include counselors, psychologists, mental health professionals, spiritual advisers, teachers and parents.

The sessions take a big commitment. They will run from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Presbyterian Friendship Center, 1308 Washington Ave.

It’s a chance to learn from the best. The director of the Crisis Management Institute of Salem, Cheri Lovre, will lead the sessions. She has experience helping people cope with the traumas of the Thurston High School and Virginia Tech shootings as well as the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

It’s not to say similar events will happen here. But it’s good to be prepared for whatever crisis needs a quick response.

Team members will be chosen according to skills needed for effective critical incident response. It takes not only skills working with juveniles. It takes special people who has empathy, yet can remain emotionally detached from a traumatic situation.

Not everyone who takes the training will be chosen for the team. Even so, it will be a learning experience for all involved.

Organizers are hoping they can get 100 people to the training, from which the teams will be chosen. To register or for more information, call Dwight Dill at 541-962-8845 or Teresa Dowdy at 541-663-3307.

If you have the skills, the mentality and the wish to help in times of crisis, it’s a great chance to get involved.