Ill. human services unit helps responders with stress
By M.K. Guetersloh
BEASON, Ill. — Responding to a horrific crime scene can take its toll on police officers, investigators and other first responders, which is why the state police has a human services unit, said one state police official.
Five members of one family were found slain Monday evening in Beason, a rural community outside of Lincoln. A 3-year-old girl, believed to be the sole survivor, remains hospitalized in Peoria.
State police Capt. Scott Compton said critical stress debriefings are a major part of helping local law enforcement officers who might not otherwise have access to someone to talk to.
"We have a structured program in the debriefings but try to keep them from being time-consuming because, as in this case, we realize there is still a large amount of work to be done," Compton said.
The debriefing gives police officers and emergency medical workers an opportunity to talk about how to handle the stress that comes from the incident and how to cope with what they see at the crime scene, Compton said.
"We try to tell them what to expect and how to handle coping with something as a horrific as this scene," Compton said.
In addition to the debriefing, the state police’s human services unit offers counseling, a chaplain service and an employee assistance program.
"This gives them opportunities to talk with someone outside of the debriefing as well," Compton said.
The state police have the resources to provide human services smaller agencies can’t, so the unit is not just for state troopers, Compton added.
"The health and well-being of all the officers and emergency personnel is important to us," he said. "Anyone at the scene has access to this service."