Central Ohio FOP Members Helping Conn. First Responders Cope After Shootings


UPDATED: Wednesday December 19, 2012 8:48 AM

Central Ohio FOP members have been working to help Connecticut first responders after the massacre of schoolchildren in Newtown, Conn.

Two more children killed in Friday's massacre were laid to rest Tuesday while Newtown Schools, except for Sandy Hook Elementary, reopened for the first time since the tragedy.

While the men and women who rushed to Sandy Hook Elementary School were trained to handle emergencies, nothing could have prepared them for the scenes they witnessed.

Police crisis counselors, including two from the Columbus area, have been spending 12 hour days in Newtown trying to comfort the first responders who encountered the horrific scene.

Crisis manager Michael Haley would not share what the officers, medics and other crime scene workers told him.

However, he allowed that some are struggling with feelings of: "If I just could have gotten to the school ten minutes sooner" or, "If I just could have gotten to the gunman before he got to the kids."

Questions he says, they will carry for the rest of their lives.

“In this line of business you can get better or you can get bitter,” Haley said. “What we try to accomplish is that these officers get better and learn from what they've experienced.”

Haley said that it is important these first responders continue to eat and sleep and talk to someone they trust about what they are going through.

“Just the support from the family and accept them as they are,” Haley said. “That's sometimes some of the best medicine that the officers can accept and move forward.”

Haley and Dublin Police officer Craig Hungler will stay in Newtown until the end of the week. They plan to return to Newtown in the weeks ahead to help train other counselors for what they see as an ongoing need.

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