6.1 Interviews with people who have experienced a major incident

1. Introduction

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This section will take approximately 1½-2 hours to complete, but this timing will depend on how fast you read and how long you spend on the activities and reflective questions. You do not need to complete the whole course in one go. If you leave and come back to the course you can pick up where you left off.

This is the section of the course where you have the opportunity to read testimonies from people who have been involved in a major incident.

Reading accounts of others who have been through very difficult experiences is not always an easy task, doing so can put you in touch with feelings that may still be raw, sometimes it can bring back emotions that you thought you had learnt to live with or resolved in the best way you could.

Whatever your responses please remember that these are normal and that it is because you or someone you know has been through an abnormal experience that you have been affected in these ways.

For staff working with people who have been exposed to a major incident, it is well understood that the more empathic you are the more vulnerable you are to secondary or vicarious trauma.

So what is the purpose of providing these first-hand accounts? Perhaps it is more helpful to ask you to reflect for a moment or two about your reasons for accessing this section of the course.

What were you curious to know?

What were you hoping to hear or find out?

Perhaps this is the first section of the course that you have opened; you might have thought I want to hear from people who really know what it’s like to have been through something similar to an experience that you may have had?

Reading about the responses and reactions of others at times of adversity, such as how they survived and responded to a major incident can help you understand more about your own experiences and those of children, young people or adults who are important to you.

It can help you to make sense of your thoughts, feelings and behaviours, to know that you are not the only one. For those of who may feel overwhelmed or stuck for whatever reason, it may help to know more from others who have faced similar difficulties how they have learned to cope.

"Listening to other stories helped me digest things."

As a survivor of the Manchester bombing explained.

Survivors and responders who were interviewed were not asked to tell their stories of what happened to them as there is some suggestion this could re-traumatise the individuals concerned.

However, it was interesting to note that despite this most people wanted to recount what had happened to them. In the main the interviews focus on their experiences about the how the major incident impacted their lives, what helped them to cope with this and why.

Personal Journal