By Ellen Bachner Greenberg
In the immediate aftermath of the train crash on February 3, 2015, local hospitals mobilized their trauma specialists and were ready to treat victims with physical injuries. Recognizing that a train crash of this magnitude can also affect people psychologically, Phelps Memorial Hospital Counseling Services also instituted a plan right away and notified the community that they are prepared and want to help anyone affected by this trauma through their counseling services.
Abby Schneider, LCSW, Program Director of Phelps Counseling Services, did not discuss the specifics of anyone connected to the crash, but did elaborate on the psychological symptoms people in the community might be experiencing. According to Schneider, the signs to look for following a traumatic event include “flashbacks, difficulty sleeping, nightmares, anything acute that was not there before, difficulty eating, and waking up in the middle of the night–maybe in a sweat.” These symptoms are not limited to only the injured, but can also be felt by those who were on the train. Additionally, a horrific train crash such as this one can also have traumatic effects on family and friends who worry about what happened to their loved ones. It would not be terribly unusual for commuters who ride the train regularly to “worry if this could happen again. It really does affect the entire community.”
For those who are experiencing some of these symptoms or feel the need for support, Schneider emphasizes the importance of reaching out for counseling. Phelps Counseling Services recognizes the need for immediacy and has instructed staff members to inform people contacting them regarding the crash that they can come in right away and be seen that day. Experiencing trauma need not be an immediate reaction and often something happens later on that might trigger the traumatic event again. This could even occur months later and at that time someone might become symptomatic. Schneider urges anyone in this situation to seek counseling at that time.
Schneider stresses that Phelps Counseling Services is “experienced in crisis intervention and is here and ready to help. We are responsive to the community and want to get the word out.”
Ellen Bachner Greenberg, a lifelong resident of Westchester, is a certified Life Coach.