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  • Writer's pictureRev. Carlene Appel-M.Div.


by Rev. Carlene Appel, MDiv., PC, SC, CERC, CISM, CTP, CCFP, CDCS, CGP

We’ve had several mass shootings in the past couple of weeks. A Buffalo, NY Supermarket, a Uvalde, TX school, a Tulsa, OK medical practice. A disgruntled patient came after the surgeon. Yesterday, someone used their car as a weapon and barreled into a train station in Philadelphia. Not long before those, there was a shooting at a very sprawled out Mall in Oakbrook, IL. There were large open air spaces, between groupings of stores in separate buildings. But that can become a nightmare if you are a SWAT team, because of multiple structures in which a well prepared perpetrator can move between. I was called to that scene the next day as part of a walk-in Counseling team by the Owner of the Emergency Response Chaplain team I am part of. So a shout-out to Rev. Tim Perry, Nationwide Chaplain Services, & 10-41.

So we can see, based upon the variety of Mass Casualty events I just named, Critical Incidents can and do happen in any business, any place, any time. If I were to speak to all the store owners, my advice from a trained Incident Commander Point of View would be that each one should have a team in place if the unthinkable happens to manage an incident. In this way, the number of casualties will be kept to as minimal as possible. With the rise in the number of active shooter events, every business owner who has customers, clients, patients, and even employees, needs to be prepared. When you consider all the scenarios this could evolve to, my advice is to think about it in a NOT IF, BUT WHEN frame of mind.

First, let me qualify myself for this topic. I’m a trained WMD Incident Commander COBRA—[Chemical, Ordinance(Explosives), Biological, and Radiological] through the DHS. My First Responder training has come through multiple agencies including the Henry Co. (IL) Sheriff's Dept., American Red Cross, (American Baptist Churches)AB Men Disaster Response Team, DOJ, Kane Co. Coroner's Office, & the DHS. I am Certified in Trauma, Critical Incident Stress Management, and Emergency Response Chaplaincy. I’m trained for Weapons of Mass Destruction COBRA incidents, Suicide Intervention, Death Investigation & Notification, and Natural Disasters. In 2002, while also a Church Pastor, I founded a Chaplain Corps for the Henry County, IL Sheriffs’ Department’s, Specialized Interagency Response Team or SIRT, and served as the Coordinator, recruiting and training local Pastors for my team.

While this blog article is focused on primarily brick and mortar businesses, i is valuable information for anyone in leadership at Senior Centers, Parks and Rec. Depts., Daycare businesses, or any other place where you have a potential for someone or something that can have a disastrous effect upon anyone and everyone there. Everything you read in this blog are transferable skills, adaptable to many different situations.

Let’s talk about Critical Incidents. A Critical Incident or traumatic event is any event that causes unusually strong stress reactions which overwhelm your normal coping abilities.