Services available in times of tragedy

Local News

As the community mourns the loss of the five young fire victims, counseling services are available for those in need.

As members of the community, firefighters, family, and friends go through this devastating loss, there are services and signs to look out for if someone you know needs extra emotional help.

After the devastating overnight house fire that took the lives of five children early Sunday morning, there are services you can look into for grief support. It starts with getting in touch with those around you.

“A person that you feel that you can trust. You know if you need someone to talk too. It’s always the best to start with someone you know,” said Vicky Merski, Safe Harbor of UPMC Hamot.

If you don’t feel comfortable reaching out to those around you, there are other resources you can get in touch with. The Crisis Services Program operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and offers help to each person. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking to anyone, there are ways you can cope by yourself.

“What we encourage folks to do is think about the things that you really enjoy doing, and really carve out time to do that,” said Merski.

Even for firefighters on scene, they have peer response teams to help them through emotional times. Guy Santone tells us the Erie Fire Department has firefighters with a background in psychology that are trained to help with those in need.

“Firefighters will talk to another firefighter. They will express their feelings a little bit better. That’s why we developed this, so hopefully this works out for the best,” said Chief Guy Satone, Erie Fire Department.

Grief is felt differently be everyone, but there are signs you can look out for.

Vicki Merski, Safe Harbor of UPMC Hamot said the signs include feeling sad, trouble sleeping, trouble eating, nightmares, or flashbacks. It is also important to be aware of signs of people coping negatively with he situation, including alcohol or drug abuse.

It is important to recognize these signs and seek professional help immediately. Response is different in a traumatic situation. It is important to identify the problem and reach out to those around you that you believe are showing signs of trauma.

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