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How Emergency Crews Deal With Tragedy

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28)--Authorities say the four teens killed over the weekend died when the gator

They were riding in was struck by a driver who didn't stop at an intersection. The investigation into the crash continues.

People who knew the four boys understandably are dealing with a wide range of difficult emotions and they are not alone.

From police officers to fire fighters and hospital staff, these people are often there when something tragic happens, which is why they too may need help coping with such events.

"Unfortunately, EMS, law enforcement, firefighters they are used to death that's what occurs in their jobs, Sheriff Brian Gardner of Linn County said.

There are certain cases though that can take a toll on even the most seasoned first responder.

Cases that are more gruesome or involve children, that's when a debriefing becomes necessary.

"It's called a critical incident stress debriefing in which we bring in trained folks to come in and basically hold a debriefing session with only those people who are actively involved with the incident, said Sheriff Gardner.

He says during the session, each person explains what they did and what took place throughout the incident.

"And everyone gets a chance to talk about their feelings and their observations and when you do that you have a stress reliever that occurs, he said.

It's a technique folks at St. Lukes Hospital also utilize with their staff.

Cynthia Vaski says hospital staff has seen six cases in the last six months where children under the age of 10 passed.

"If you kept that stress and anxiety from the first event in and didn't process it ...and then you have five more on top of that, you know your stress level and your anxiety level is going to exacerbate, said Vaski, St. Lukes Employee Assistance Program Manager.

She says it's a critical part of taking care of their staff, which allows them to do their jobs effectively.

The debriefing sessions are completely inclusive.

It's meant purely for those people who were actively involved in the event. No one else can attend.
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