Dagen broke the story that the Norwegian Red Cross sent a team of 25 first aid workers whose difficult task it was to go to the rescue on 22/7 at Utøya.
Many have struggled with difficult memories and harrowing images, so the Israeli sister organization, the Magen David Adom, offered a course on how to cope in the wake of disaster:
Utøya-crew learn to cope with terrorism in Israel
25 of the Red Cross crew members who joined the rescue teams after the Utøya tragedy this summer, participated in a course on how to cope with trauma, in Israel this week. – We understand what they have gone through and know that they need a lot of professional help, says Asaf Ovadia (27).
The Israeli branch of the Red Cross, Magen David Adom, invited the Norwegians and pays travel and accommodation expenses. Israel has the last 30 years built up an outstanding team of experts in the treatment of traumas and post-traumatic syndrome, and the Norwegians have had a week of intensive training in the processing of their own experiences and how to help others in similar situations.
Red Cross in Norway has not gone public about the course in Israel. Grete Berdal of the Red Cross secretariat says this is normal procedure.
– This is an invitation from a sister organization that we have accepted. There is an exchange of professional knowledge, and we usually do not inform the press about such courses, says Berdal.
Other participants in the course confirms that the Norwegian Red Cross has deliberately adopted a low profile viz Norwegian media, regarding the course in Israel.Tremendous impression
Nurse Asaf Ovadia of Magen David Adoma says the tragedy in Norway made a tremendous impact.
– It hurt to see the horror of the gruesome attacks you experienced, and this, in a country that is not involved in a conflict with others. We felt with you, and personally I thought of the many people who helped during Utøya tragedy. We know that it is very necessary to offer treatment for rescue crews who experienced such horrible things, saysAsaf Ovadia.
He said Israel has long experience and possess a lot of knowledge on how rescue personnel need help to process the experience and move on after terrorist attacks and assaults.– We are perhaps the only country in the world who really understands what they have gone through. In this course we share our knowledge with our friends from Norway, Ovadia says.Follow up treatmentsHe talks about the treatment of Israeli rescue personnel who have worked tirelessly to save lives after countless attacks in Israel since the mid-1970s.
– When you come to such a place, everything you see and experience will become lodged in your brain for the rest of your life. We show how important it is to talk about it, and assures the crew that there is nothing wrong with those who see the terrible scenes over and over again. Here we teach them to recognize this and talk about it, says Ovadia.
He believes it is the first time Magen David Adoma has invited foreign guests on such programs. Six Israeli rescue personnel in training also participate in the course.Shocked
Ellen Mørch Haaland, who is a board member of the Red Cross Norway, says she was shocked and almost paralyzed when she first heard about the explosion in Oslo and the tragedy of Utøya. She went immediately to London where she attended the emergency meetings of the Red Cross, and the day after, she left for Sundvollen where the affected youth from Utøya were taken care of.
– It is one of the toughest experiences in my life. It was a mixture of joy and sorrow. Some cheered the fact that they found their loved ones again, others were brokenhearted because they waited in vain, says Mørch Haaland.Does something to you
The Chairman of the national council for Red Cross Rescue Teams Jahn Petter Berentsen says it is exactly this experience of joy and despair, that does something to people on the emotional level.
– It was quite surreal, it took several days to digest the impressions. You must have experienced something like this, in order to understand what we experienced, says Berrentsen.
Both put great value on the course in Israel.
– The most important thing I learned is perhaps the way the Israelis handle the fear. They refuse to walk around and be afraid to send their children to camps or events after such attacks. The Israelis convey this clearly to us, says Berentsen.Outstanding
Sissel Alvheim Dubrefjord from Notodden thinks the program and learning experience has been outstanding.
– Israel has an experience of treating terror victims, which I hope we never will have. It was they who contacted us and wanted to do something for Norway. What they have contributed with during this course is fantastic, says Alvheim Dubrefjord.
Thorleif Lønningen from Porsgrunn completely agree.
– The way they take care of relief workers after accidents is simply impressive, says Lønningen.
There is no doubt that it was a daunting task for the many volunteers whoshowed up, whether they were from the Red Cross, Norwegian People’s Aid or Norwegian Rescue Dogs. And it’s therefore quite natural that the Red Cross is now seeking more knowledge on how to handle such traumas.
And who is better than the ones living with the threat of terrorism every day? MagenDavid Adoma live in a reality where they constantly have to be prepared for a grenade, a suicide bomber or a crazed gun man.
This is the reason why 25 staff from the Red Cross in Norway this week,travelled to Israel to learn to process the trauma of terrorist acts. Dagen reported on this in yesterdays’ paper, a move that caused upheaval among friends of the Palestinians and which also triggered the Red Cross to call out the whole propaganda fire fighting team.
For it is sensitive for the Red Cross learn to deal with terrorism from “rescue workers from an occupying state.”
What is this nonsense?