IAFF Mobilizes Peer Support Following Response to Mass Shooting at Florida High School
The IAFF is providing support and assistance to dozens of IAFF members from several south Florida locals involved in the response to another deadly mass shooting incident, this time at a Broward County high school.
More than 50 fire fighters, including SWAT medics, raced to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, just after 2:00 p.m. on Valentine’s Day in response to an active shooter situation. A lone gunman, a 19-year-old former student, entered the school, pulled a fire alarm and began shooting at fleeing students and staff, killing 17 and injuring 14 others. It is the deadliest school shooting since the horrific Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in 2012.
The IAFF immediately began working with 12th District Vice President Walt Dix and local and state affiliate leaders, quickly dispatching peer support teams to provide counseling and other assistance as needed to members of Metro Broward Local 3080, Broward County Local 4321, Pompano Local 1549 and Fort Lauderdale Local 765 – all of whom worked to rescue, triage, treat and transport the wounded.
“Our members were just amazing throughout this emergency,” says Metro Broward Local 3080 President Brian Powell. “This was a truly tough scene to work through, but they were awesome and saved lives. Unfortunately, what these members saw at the scene cannot be unseen.”
General President Harold Schaitberger was on the ground the next day to assess needs, meeting with District Vice President Dix, Local 3080 President Powell, other affiliate leaders and the Coral Springs fire chief. On Saturday, President Schaitberger, along with General Secretary-Treasurer Ed Kelly and District Vice President Dix, will visit members working their first shift since responding to the active shooter incident.
Peer support teams from Orlando, Palm Beach County, Miami-Dade, Fort Lauderdale, Lauderhill, Margate, Coral Springs, the Broward Sherriff'sOffice and the FDNY will be visiting members at 24 stations over the next three days, as well as meeting with administrative personnel and conducting group and one-to-one counseling.
“We are here to make sure that our members and the staff who worked this tragic scene – as well as their families – are aware of the
behavioral health counseling resources
available to them. We want them to know that the IAFF will be with them to address any behavioral issues now and in the long term,” says Schaitberger.