Organizational Traumas, Tragedies and Transitions

Author: Dr. Gerald Lewis
Trauma at work place is an event that results in death, serious injury, property damage to people in the workplace. This event is witnessed or experienced by others who may have participated in the intervention. For example: death of an employee, injury/accident to employee, medical crisis, victim of criminalization. The recent organizational traumas and tragedies include: USPS Anthrax Brentwood return 2001-2003, Merrill Lynch 911 return, Texas A& M bonfire anniversary, Marathon manhunt and shoot out, Cambridge Police, Boston Medical Center, Boston Peer Stress Unit and numerous “small” business traumas, tragedies and transitions.
Crisis
Crisis is a situation in which things are very uncertain, difficult, or painful, especially at a time when action must be taken to avoid complete disaster or breakdown?
Trauma or Wound
A crisis caused by injury to living tissue from an external source.
Disaster
A crisis in which there has been traumatic injury/death to many victims often accompanied by property destruction; and immediate resources may be overwhelmed.
Catastrophe
Catastrophe is to cause damage to societal/community infrastructure.
Crisis/Transition
Crisis/Transition is used when organization is going through downsizing, mergers, relocations, buy/sell, pandemic, and other major changes in workplace.
Bereavement
Used when a death has taken place outside of work (not witnessed), sharing of information, reactions, may discuss plans (funeral, workload, etc).
Categories in crisis
All crises can fall into one of these categories: Evacuation, notification, staging, attendance, belongings, lock down/shelter in place, event, notification, natural disaster, civil disruption/terrorism, LD/SIP, DOP, displacement of personnel, criminal/civil, work action/personnel, death, injury, layoffs, bereavement, benefits.
Psychological First Aid
Apart from physical injury employees also suffer mentally during any crisis or workplace disaster. The best psychological first aid at this juncture could be walk and talk, cruise and schmooze, calm, quiet tone, connect with family or friends, providing information, providing water and availability of senior management.

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