The M40 Crash: Children get help to deal with trauma

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The Independent Online
A TEAM of counsellors arrived at Hagley High School yesterday to help pupils deal with the shock of losing their friends, writes Steve Boggan.

Trevor Jellis, principal educational psychologist for Hertfordshire, said counselling to offset the effects of post traumatic stress would also be offered to families. Warwickshire Fire Brigade said firefighters who attended the scene had already been provided with counsellors.

Mr Jellis said that when the news was announced at the school, one 15-year-old girl who was a close friend of one of the victims went into shock. 'It is a very difficult time for the children,' he said.

'We have been into several classes to offer pupils help. One girl who was so shocked she could hardly speak.

'We have teams of psychologists to help pupils deal with the tragedy and we will be on hand for the next couple of weeks if we are needed.'

Dr David Muss, who runs a specialist trauma clinic at the Nuffield hospital in Birmingham, said: 'Firemen are the worst for burying horrors. The crews should sit down and discuss what they have seen. There should be a proper debriefing about what they did and not what they might have done. No blame should be apportioned at this time.

'In a month or so there should be a follow-up of every man or woman with a standard questionnaire to find out if they have got over it. Some people don't get better and then post traumatic stress disorder can be diagnosed.'