Red Cross Steps Help People to Prepare, Cope in Face of Tragedy

People may experience a variety of feelings and thoughts after something like the devastating mass shooting in Orlando. The American Red Cross has information people can use to cope in the aftermath of this tragedy.

Something like this is upsetting for everyone involved. People near the emergency are affected, as well as people all over the country who may have family in the Orlando area; who may know someone who was affected; or people who are watching the media coverage of this tragic situation. It is difficult to understand why something like this happens or what may happen in the future.

American Red Cross volunteer hugging woman
American Red Cross volunteers are there to provide comfort and support in the worst of times. (American Red Cross photo)

Children are especially at risk as they may become afraid that the event will happen again, or that they or someone in their family may be injured or killed. The injuries and fatalities are difficult for them to understand. It is important to reassure children and talk to them in a calm manner. Their view of the world as a safe and predictable place is temporarily lost. How a parent or other adult reacts around the child following a traumatic event can determine how quickly and completely the child recovers.

People may be experiencing many different emotions like fear, anger, confusion, shock, disbelief, sadness and grief. These are all normal feelings after this type of event.

People’s reactions appear in different ways, not only in the way someone feels, but in the way they think and what they think about; their sleeping habits, how they go about daily living; and the way they interact and get along with others. Here are a few steps to help people cope:

  • Stay informed, but limit exposure to media coverage of the events.
  • Take care of yourself. Eat healthy, drink plenty of water and get enough rest.
  • Be patient with yourself and others. It’s common to have any number of temporary stress reactions such as anger, frustration and anxiety.
  • Stay connected with your family and other support systems. Reach out and accept help from others.
  • Encourage children: to express their feelings and thoughts. Reassure them about their safety.

To reach out for free 24/7 counseling or support, contact the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or text “TalkWithUs’ to 66746.

The events in Orlando emphasize the importance of knowing what to do when an emergency occurs. Even as first responders rushed into help, much of the initial care to the injured was provided by citizen responders nearby who were trained in CPR and first aid. Whether the emergency is community-wide and involves numerous injuries, or involves a single individual being hurt at home, it is vital that someone close by knows what to do when such an emergency occurs.

Prepare for the unexpected with First Aid/CPR/AED training from the Red Cross. Training can give you the skills and confidence to act in an emergency and to save a life. Red Cross offers a variety of online, blended (online content with in-class skills session) and instructor-led classroom training offerings. Register at

People can also download the Red Cross First Aid App for mobile devices to have information at their fingertips on what to do for the most common first aid emergencies. The app includes step-by-step instructions, videos and animations on how to handle a variety of first aid situations including how to control bleeding and how to perform Hands-Only CPR. Other features include a Hospital Locator and preloaded content (also available in Spanish) – allowing you to access what you need even without mobile service. The First Aid app is available in app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to


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