AUGUSTA, Maine -- It's the job of MEMA, Maine's Emergency Management Agency, to prepare for the worst. And Tuesday, first responders at MEMA's annual Maine Partners in Emergency Preparedness Conference heard from two officers who have certainly experienced it.
Lieutenant Christopher Vanghele and Officer Jeff Silver of the Newtown, Connecticut Police Department chose Maine to make their first presentation about the tragedy in their town, speaking to a crowd of about 500 first responders and school officials. The officers said it was difficult to put the talk together because it meant reviewing the horrors of December 14, when 20 young children and 6 teachers were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary. But they did it because they say towns need to realize everything that comes up in the aftermath of something like this.
Lt. Vanghele said, "As much as maybe it personally causes some emotional distress to look into this, and force yourself to put something together, and hear audio, and ask people questions, when all you want to do is put things aside, we do that because we have 500 people in there that want to learn."
The officers said the training they received following the Collumbine shootings came in handy. But the logistics of handling the investigation, the media, the funerals, the requests to be honored at various ceremonies are enormous. And then there's the mental health aspect of things. People in town are hurting, and so are police officers. Vanghele and Silver say towns need a plan to handle those issues, too.