Emergency Medical Worker’s Mass Shooting Incident Stress and Psychological Recovery

August 1998 (VOL. 16, NO. 2)

Download this article

This study was designed to identify 36 emergency medical workers’ most common stress reactions and recovery processes after a heavy-fatality mass shooting incident, and to relate stressors, reactions, and recovery resources to worker’s major symptoms and satisfaction with their role in the incident. Anxiety/worry (28 percent), anger/hostility (22 percent), sleep disturbances (22 percent), and obsessive-compulsive preoccupations (19 percent) were common in the first week post event. Coworkers provided the most commonly sought (by 94 percent) and consistently effective social support; counselors were as effective but used by only 50 percent. Victim contact, low helplessness, high social support availability for “anything”, and joking about the incident were related to workers’ satisfaction with the role they played in the incident. Interventions for emergency medical personnel after mass casualty events should target anxiety and hostility symptoms, sleep disturbances, obsessive-compulsive preoccupations, and helpless feelings; encourage global social support, especially among coworkers; provide voluntary counseling; and include family members.