How first responders cope with tragedy

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — It’s been two days since a tow truck driver discovered the bodies of Crystal Savage and her three young children, but no amount of time will ease what those first responders saw.

The message from the police department’s chaplain is to not be afraid to ask for help.

“Cops 20 years on the job you know, just unable to even talk about this. Three little babies in the backseat of a car was just, just awful,” said Onondaga County District Attorney, Bill Fitzpatrick.

Three children were killed by their mother who placed a burning charcoal grill in a rental car, poisoning them with carbon monoxide. The reality of what happened may just beginning to set in for officers.

“None is really designed to get through life on their own. Everyone needs some kind of support, someone to talk to, someone to lean on,” said Erik Eure, Chaplain with the Syracuse Police Department.

Officers have employee assistance programs, peer counseling, trauma response team help and guidance from a chaplain like Eure. But the real healing comes from within the department with the chief and captains checking on their team.

Eure said, “They all are asking the questions, you know, how are you doing today? You were there, you were first on the scene, have you talked to somebody, how are you dealing with this, if you have any concerns, we’re here for you.”

And when children are involved, it can hit even closer to home.

“A lot of police officers are family people, lot of police officers have children, a lot of them are dealing with different issues on a day to day basis,” said Eure.

Issues of guilt, pain, and trauma, something neighbors are also experiencing. Which is why when it comes to healing, Eure says everyone should be involved.

“We don’t want anyone in our community to feel like, you’re so isolated, you’re so alone, that there’s no help and there’s no hope,” Eure said. “People need to know that help is healthy.”

The vigil Tuesday night is meant to be an offering from the community to tell neighbors, first responders and the family of those who were killed that they’re here, their arms are open and they’re ready to help them heal.

For more local news, follow Julia LeBlanc on Twitter @JuliaLeBlancNC9

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