Psychology experts helping Creeslough locals speak to Manchester Bombings & Tyrone crush aftermath officials

EXPERTS working with locals bereaved by the Creeslough tragedy consulted with officials involved in dealing with the aftermath of the bombings in Manchester and a crush accident at a hotel in Co Tyrone.

Psychology experts dealing with the Donegal disaster explained how they followed the recommended approach of the World Health Organization when offering support to survivors.

Emergency services attend the scene of the Creeslough explosion

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Emergency services attend the scene of the Creeslough explosionCredit: Reuters
The cause of the explosion is being investigated

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The cause of the explosion is being investigatedCredit: AFP or licensors
Ten people died in the horror blast

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Ten people died in the horror blastCredit: PA: Press Association

The principal psychology manager in Donegal told a colleague in an email that the decision to end a drop-in support service for survivors and others traumatized by the catastrophic explosion was not a resource issue, but best practice.

The email explained how the immediate on-site services had been designed around “psychological first aid” and was intended for use in the “early days and weeks following a traumatic event”.

A note to management said up to 120 support sessions had already been held with demand fluctuating and “generally tapering off”.

It said it was the right time to reduce and then close the in-person drop-in support service and said the psychological first aid model was not intended for use beyond a few weeks.

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The email said that the HSE support phoneline had remained open and that appointments could be made for people to meet in person in Creeslough and Letterkenny.

It said: “Some people sought appointments in Letterkenny for their convenience or for their privacy. Up to 200 sessions have been undertaken.”

Those killed in the explosion in Creeslough were: Catherine O’Donnell, 39, and her son James Monaghan, 13; Robert Garwe, 50, and his five-year-old daughter Shauna Flanagan Garwe; Leona Harper, 14; Jessica Gallagher, 24; James O’Flaherty, 48; Martin McGill, 49; Martina Martin, 49, and Hugh Kelly, 59.

The email explained that typically people were not accepted for trauma interventions until six months after the traumatic event had taken place.

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However, the HSE team were exploring with experts in Germany and Ireland how best to offer earlier intervention and “narrative exposure therapy interventions”.

The email added: “All of [this work] … is considered best practice early intervention and prevents the development of post-traumatic stress disorder and a consequent need for clinical services long-term.”

The message said around 35 people had been referred for priority assessments and that work with them would continue “over the coming weeks, months, and years”.

‘TIMELY & COMPREHENSIVE’

The email said: “The combined HSE efforts over the past four weeks have been timely and comprehensive and we have reached approximately 220 individuals and provided various levels of supports and services.

“We have now entered a different phase of the response and this will be tailored to the needs of those presenting to services.”

The senior psychologist also explained how she had been in touch with colleagues who had coordinated the response to similar tragedies, a tragic crush outside a disco in CookstownCo Tyrone, and bombings in Manchester.

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She said the HSE team had also contacted colleagues around Ireland who had dealt with major incidents to see what lessons could be learned from them.

The email concluded: “To again clarify, the decision to increase the onsite presence in Creeslough was not resource-based, the service demand has naturally tapered off and as I noted previously, its usefulness as an early intervention is waning.”

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