Behavior Potentials and Treating Traumatized Survivors

Protocol for determining whether the cause of an accident is criminal or not

The protocol will follow one of the most basic accident causal theories called the domino theory of the linear system model. The cause of an accident is stated to be a series of failures (NTSB, 2009). In case of an accident, the officers carrying out the investigation should establish the presence of the following failures to determine whether the accident was natural or criminal.

  1. Ascertain the lack of management control that may have led to the accident
  2. Identify the basic causes known for such accidents
  3. Evaluate the immediate causes
  4. Evaluate the accident or nature of incident
  5. Identify the loss

The above sequence represents a chain of required defensive regulations that may cause an accident to accident to occur naturally. Where it is proved that these regulations are all adhered and an accident still occurs, it warrant further investigation on a criminal act perspective.

Victim management in a criminal incident

The investigating officers should apply their knowledge and experience to decide the investigative actions that are most appropriate in the situation at hand. This should be done in awareness of the legal and ethical consideration. As responders, it is required that the first step be to ascertain the safety of the scene to ensure that the victims and responders are in further danger. The next step requires the responders to ensure that emergency medical attention is accorded to the injured person while trying as much to reduce contamination of the scene. This should be followed by controlling the movement of people at the scene as a way of maintaining scene integrity and safeguarding the evidence. The victims should be assisted in dealing with the trauma. The witness to the scene should be identified and separated. The investigators should question the witness and record their statements (USDOJ, 2000).

Identifying true victims from suspects

Identification by an eye-witness who may have seen the offender carries out the acts of crime. This can be done through either video identification or an identification parade. The investigators may use the either the visual identification procedures or the voice identification. Witnesses should not be allowed to speak to each other, to provide an opportunity of comparing their accounts of the events. The separation requires posing questions like, at what time did the crime occur, who is the victim, what did you see happen, where were you when you observed the crime scene?

Safety procedures

It is important to ensure the safety and physical well-being of investigators and the victims in a crime scene. This is done by ensure that there are no other identifiable threat to other responders. This requires the scanning the area for visuals, sounds, and smell that may indicate hazardous material. The investigators should approach he scene in a manner meant to reduce risk of danger and harm occurring and consequently maximizing the safety of victims, witnesses and other individual in the area. The crime scene should be surveyed to help identify dangerous persons and controlling of the situation. Where danger has been identifies, the supervisory personnel should be made aware as well as calling for back up (USDOJ, 2000).

Equipment and personnel are needed to remove the danger

It is important to promote the safety of the scene and that of the individuals present at the scene. The crime scene should be protected and secured by defining and controlling the boundaries. Danger that may present ranges from fire, hazardous material, falling debris, bomb, or an active shoot out. Dealing with fire requires the use of fire extinguisher to try and put off the fire. Here fire fighter may be required to help control this danger. Where bombs are involved, responder from the bomb squad wearing their protective gear should be called in to defuse the bomb. In an active shoot out scenario, the SWAT should be called in to help subdue the criminals engaging in the shootout.

Rescuing trapped victims

Rescuing trapped victims requires a collective action by the responder. However, the fire department staffs are more specialized and have specialized equipment to deal with this. Releasing trapped victims requires some heavy equipment such as bobcats, front-end loaders, dump trucks, and cranes. The operations for rescuing trapped victims should be conducted in the following stages:

  1. Light and surface rescue; this rescues the victims that are easily seen and in the first moments of the incidents. Mainly done by first responders and requires no specialized equipment.
  2. Void exploration; this requires some exploration into the obvious, visible, voids. A void refers to a confined space. This requires enough rescue personnel and equipment to carry out the operation. It also needs a stand-by team before entering the void.
  3. Specific debris removal; this should be carried out where the trapped victims require just one portion of slab or component lifted to rescue them. Equipment’s that may be used here include air bags, hydraulic rescue tools, properly rigged crane.
  4. General debris removal; this operation involves delayering the whole building using heavy equipment. After uncovering voids, the search teams should screen them for possible victim. Requires structural engineer to determine where to place the equipment and the exact manner to use the equipment (Firehouse, 2003).

Equipment and personnel are needed for on-site triage of victims

The onsite triage victims need attention on first aid, stabilization, and evacuation. The goals of triage in an incident required the establishment of a treatment priority, developing an evacuation priority and carrying out an on-going reassessment. The onsite triage in most cases represents a situation where the needs are more than the services. There is a need to carry out categorization to help attain the greatest good to the greatest number. The personnel required here include the medical emergency operation. There is need of equipment such as ambulance and sketchers.

The protocol to identify and manage those in need of immediate medical assistance

To adequately deal with the victims in need of medical assistance in a situation where the resources available exceeds the needs, there is a need to ensure proper planning and management. In this case, the victims will be classified in various categories. The first category will represent the Green or minimal; these victims are wounded but are capable of walking and relocating on their own. The Yellow or delayed refers to the injured victims who cannot move on their own. The Red or immediate represents the injured victims who need to be helped by immediate transportation. The Black victims are those who no medical assistance can help them as they are already deceased. The urgency of the medical assistance is determined using respiratory status, perfusion, and neurological status. The order of priority for medical treatment is the immediate (red), delayed (Yellow), hold (green), and deceased (Black).

Traumatized victims

Trauma by victims is experienced as a direct reaction to the aftermath of crime. Trauma involves an emotional response that an individual has after a negative event. In trying to identify traumatized victims the following conditions should be looked out for:

  1. Shock and numbness; this represent the initial stages to a reaction to a crisis. The shock disorients the victims and they may experience the flight syndrome.
  2. Denial and disbelief; the victims’ mood changes leaving the victim wondering why the vent happened to them. Most victims replay the event causing them to have dreams, nightmare and fantasies.
  3. Emotions; traumatized victims are high on stressful emotions such as fear, despair, self-pity, and guiltiness.
  4. Recovery; this is essential to help the victim come in terms with the event that occurred to them. Requires the intervention of trained crisis interveners.

It has been understood that when trauma occurs to the victims, the cognitive part of the brain records the occurrence of the events in terms of who, what, where, why, when, and how. An interview process required to be properly carried out with these victims to help retrieve this information. In carrying out this interview, it is important to assure the victim that they are safe and commence by ensuring trust is upheld. In carrying out the interview:

  1. Acknowledge the trauma and pain that the victims underwent
  2. Enquire from the victims the memories they have about the experience
  3. Ask the victim to give their thought process in certain areas of the experience.
  4. Enquire from the victims, the memories they have including the sounds, sights, smell, and feelings pre, during, and post event.
  5. Let the victim describe the effect of the experience to them physically and emotionally.
  6. Ask the victim to describe the difficult part of the experience
  7. Let the victims tell what they cannot forget about the experience (Strand, n.d)

Management of the deceased

The recovery of body remains entails searching and relocating bodies to the incident or holding morgues. Pictures of the bodies should be taken in the location where they were found. They should be kept from the public view. Upon recovery, the personnel should carry out some initial physical evaluation. The type of disaster tells more about the holding/incident morgue operation. There should be a family assistance center established at the scene. This helps show the prevalence of order to the public despite a disaster occurring. The family assistance center is the point where the family members report on missing relative, await news about their loved ones, and offer data for the identification purpose. It also serves as a support center to assist those engage in identification, removal and processing of deceased bodies (PAHO, 2004).

Trauma in First Responders

The first responders include the police, fire fighters, and ambulance personnel. These personnel experience the worst on a daily basis. Their ability to handle and deal with the trauma that they are exposed to relates to their mental well-being.  The first responders are exposed to death, casualties and violence in their line of work. Acute stress is a form of stress experienced by the first responders. It manifests for the events that occurred recently or from the anticipation of the events ahead. This type of stress factor causes the production of some chemical factor that causes excitement and exhilaration. This is also known to lead to physical and mental fatigue. In the above event, the traumatic factors that the first responders had to endure include over fifty dead bodies, and more than 100 injured victims. The nature of the injuries for this event is burn injuries which provide traumatic sights.  Another stressful factor in the line of duty deaths and injuries to themselves and their partners

The first responders can be trained on how to deal with stressful events in times of duty.  The emergency personnel can be said to be a high risk group that is likely to face many health and mental issues for exposures during their jobs. These first responders should receive resilience training to help them manage to adapt to the conditions, withstand and recover from the incidents they face in their line of duty. Another factor that is important in helping the responders deal with the incidents is by having peer support team. This helps in connecting with other who has experienced the same conditions. This helps create awareness of what to expect (Deppa, 2015).

It is necessary that the first responders be educated on the trauma associated with the viewing and processing a crime scene. While it may not be possible to completely eliminate the stress, it can be brought down to manageable levels. This may be achieved by maintaining a physical fitness routine and using the employee assistance program resources for critical incident stress management. This allows the first responders deal with posttraumatic stress disorder thereby maintaining their health. Comprehensive acute traumatic stress management (CATSM) provides tools for educating he emergency responders on the traumatic process that is likely to be experienced in a crime scene (Figley, 2012).


Deppa, Karen F., “Resilience Training for Firefighters: A Proposed Approach” (2015). Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) Capstone Projects. 82. htt://

Figley, C. (2012). Encyclopedia of Trauma. Sage Publications.

Firehouse. (2003). Collapse Rescue101: Using Heavy Equipment . Retrieved from\

National Transport Safety Board (NTSB). (2009). Improving the Quality of Accident Investigation.

Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). (2004). Management of Dead Bodies in Disaster Situations. Wasnhington D.C: PAHO.

Strand, R. (n.d.). The Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview (FETI).

U.S Department of Justice (USDOJ). (2000). Crime Scene Investigation.

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