Our EAP counselors were seasoned at working with the symptoms associated with traumatic events including shock, grief, and anxiety, and we knew how to address symptoms of PTSD, albeit within the short-term EAP model. We’d debriefed hospital teams for well over 20 years and had been trained and experienced in the use of psychotherapeutic “power tools” to rapidly ease mental and emotional distress (Energy Psychology and Rapid Resolution Therapy.) In minor ways, we’d participated in Hospital Incident Command exercises over the years, and we’d already created an EAP Crisis Response Plan for a “grab-and-go” response. But this Pulse shooting was beyond anything we’d ever seen.
There was no preparation in the role of physician coach. It was my previous training as a clinical therapist in crisis intervention/PTSD that allowed me to respond. The understanding of long-term effects of trauma and how to mitigate were crucial. I had researched topics such as emotional exhaustion, depression and burnout among physicians in preparation for taking on the role of coach/counselor. This step would prove invaluable even at the one-year anniversary of the Pulse tragedy.