At the request of the Massachusetts Departments of Mental Health and Public Health, the Riverside Trauma Center will now be managing psychological first aid for all residents and businesses outside the City of Boston who have been impacted by the Boston Marathon bombings. The Riverside Trauma Center, a service of Riverside Community Care, has been involved with the trauma response to the events on April 15 since immediately following the tragedy. At the request of Mayor Menino, The Boston Public Health Commission will continue to manage requests for behavioral health support within the Boston city limits.
“While Boston has begun to heal as a city, we know that for many people there is still a long road to recovery,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission. “There are countless folks in greater Boston that will need a supportive voice and help coping in the days and weeks ahead, and we want to do everything possible to make sure professional help is easy to access. I want to thank Riverside for lending its expertise to those in need during this difficult time.”
Riverside, which is headquartered in Dedham MA, is a provider of behavioral healthcare and human services across eastern and central Massachusetts. Riverside Trauma Center helps people recover from overwhelming stress caused by traumatic events through community outreach, consultation, and counseling.
“We know that tragic events of this magnitude will have lasting behavioral health effects,” said Department of Mental Health Commissioner Marcia Fowler. “I have every confidence that Riverside has the necessary experience in delivering crisis services to help with this enormous task. Our hearts go out to the victims, the courageous first responders, families and all affected by this terrible event, but we are resilient and will remain strong in the face of this.”
“Events of mass violence, such as the Marathon bombings, can trigger overwhelming feelings of anxiety, anger and fear,” said Dr. Lauren Smith, Department of Public Health Interim Commissioner. “These emotions are completely normal, and may last weeks and even months beyond the event. The Department of Public Health has worked with Department of Mental Health and the Boston Public Health Commission to identity important resources such as Riverside to help those in need as we begin a long-term recovery.”
Riverside Trauma Center teams have already responded to a large number of requests for help from schools, communities, businesses, and families both within Boston and throughout the surrounding communities. Over the past week, the response from Riverside has included team members attending a community meeting in Dorchester for neighbors of the Richard family who suffered the loss of a child and serious injury of other family members. The team educated those attending on expected reactions to the bombings, what to expect emotionally, and how to speak with children about the tragedy.
Additionally, the Riverside Trauma Center staff has accompanied people as they went back to their businesses and residences for the first time and have been going “door to door” checking in with these individuals to make sure they are managing their reactions. For many, last week was the first time they have seen their businesses or residences since the bombings. Numerous businesses were open on Marathon Monday so the employees in the immediate area of the bombing became eyewitnesses. For many, their experiences were similar to being in a war zone.
This is the Riverside Trauma Center’s third large-scale deployment in the past 3 years in response to a state-wide tragedy. The most recent was the tornadoes that demolished homes in the Springfield MA area in 2011. The Trauma Center has trained over 1000 responders in psychological first aid across the State since its inception. The Director of the Trauma Center, Dr. Larry Berkowitz, explained that his team is well prepared to provide support wherever it is needed.
As we move further from the events of April 15, anyone continuing to experience strong reactions (anxiety, inability to sleep) is encouraged to seek help. Riverside Trauma Center can be reached at 855-279-0632. Callers will be provided with telephone support along with referrals for additional services including support groups specific to the bombings and/or individual counseling.