From his experience at Umpqua Community College, Mike "Buster" Bednarek believes at least four pieces are essential in responding to this kind of human tragedy. While this was his first experience both as an RNR responder and as someone taking the lead on mobilizing and coordinating an RNR response, it was intense.
Here are four critical pieces to an RNR response:
1. Contact/communication with someone (or an agency) close to the situation.
This contact can keep you informed, guide you through the maelstrom of information, reactions, emotions, and activities already taking place, connect you with an appropriate event/response coordinator, help determine RNR response appropriateness, and advocate for your involvement and efforts.
2. Awareness/understanding of situation and range of responses already taking place.
This builds empathy and compassion, and helps guide your suggestions, design, and determination of (an) appropriate response(s).
3. Contact, communication, resource assessment, and mobilizing other RNR responders.
Someone from RNR in the area should take the lead and serve as the liaison and coordinator between the site/responding agency and the potential RNR volunteers. Planning, response, and support can occur as a group among other RNR responders within the area/community affected by the event. Skills of the resource pool of RNR responders, preparedness (is that 'grab-and-go bag' always ready?), willingness, and availability must be considered. A tragic event, and the need or time frame to respond, can occur without a lot of lead time, so being ready and being able to communicate and mobilize quickly and efficiently could be critical to providing needed support and an appropriate RNR response.
4. Appropriate response(s) that are coordinated and invited by someone close to the situation.
What you do and when you do it is critical, and being invited to participate within the context of an appropriate RNR response is far more effective than well-meaning 'fools rushing in.'
Considering these four elements will help your Red Nose Response mind, body, and soul be prepared to deliver what's needed when you're called. And you'll know when you're called.