Connecticut Shooting Response Meeting

In response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting tragedy that occurred December 14, 2012 in Connecticut, Hamilton Center CEO, Mel Burks hosted a discussion on Monday, December 17, 2012 on community safety. Attending the meeting were Vigo County School Superintendent (VCSC) Daniel Tanoos; VCSC Director of Student Services Ray Azar; VCSC Board President Paul Lockhart; Vigo County Sheriff Chief Deputy Clark Cottom; Terre Haute City Police Chief John Plasse; Terre Haute Fire Department Chief Jeff Fisher; Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett; Vigo County Prosecutor Terry Modesitt; Hamilton Center Attorney Jared Modesitt; along with Hamilton Center administrative and clinical staff.

The meeting was held to share information on what role each organization has and what measures have been implemented to ensure community safety.

Hamilton Center's Chief Medical Officer Ahsan Mahmood, MD stated, "Studies completed after 911 indicated that the effects of a traumatic event on children show three key elements in helping them cope: The perception of safety; maintaining daily routines helps avoid anxiety; and being proactive in providing resilience."

In addition to the many safety policies implemented by the Vigo County School Corporation, Hamilton Center has a 24-hour Access Center to care for individuals in crisis. They also have a crisis response team that can provide on-site counseling in the case of a traumatic event.

Chief Clinical Officer Sara Ritter, MSW, LCSW said that the parent's reaction to an event impacts kids and that parents need to not over react but to give age-appropriate detail. "Encourage kids to talk about their feelings. They need to know that having some fear and anxiety are normal." said Ritter, "Parents also need to be careful to monitor television time on a traumatic news story."

Burks said that this is the first in a series of meetings that will provide a sustained effort to keep the communities that we serve safe.

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