After the Boston Marathon terror attacks, an Israeli team of trauma experts visits Boston with the goal of helping the local community cope with the trauma.

Following the Boston Marathon Terror Attacks, the Israel Trauma Coalition offered two workshops in Boston discussing best practices to recover from trauma. The workshops focused on the “impacts of disaster on individuals and communities, techniques for working with impacted populations, and when to triage individuals to additional support. Attendees will also learn the importance of self care and the importance of resilience both individually and for a community.”

The Israel Trauma Coalition thus brought their experience based on dealing with traumatic situations in places like India and Japan after the tsunami, as well as domestic instances of terrorism in Israel, and taught the Boston community how they could apply these tools domestically. “In Israel, in places like Sderot, even young children are used to the fact that any minute an alarm can go off and a rocket can fall. But here, in a very sheltered community like Boston where everything seems so peaceful and beautiful, one cannot imagine things like this taking place. The first time it does shatters a sense of things being safe,” Talia Levanon reported to Haaretz.

“We meet people where they are and acknowledge what they’ve been through. We ask where they were when the event happened. It connects people to their story and to their own resources,” she said. “We bring with us methods developed in Israel of a community approach, as opposed to only an individual approach, as we view this as something that impacted an entire community, and in doing so hopefully help the individual cope better as well.”

She also reported that in Israel she learned to “shift away from focusing on an individual’s trauma as some kind of pathology,” preferring instead to view the community as a “source of resilience and strength following a disaster or attack.” As Jason Del Porto, vice principal of Watertown Middle School and chair of the district’s critical incident team told the Times of Israel, “They spoke a lot about validating people’s normal responses to what were very abnormal, traumatic events. We had brought in other experts to speak about trauma, but the Israelis came with a level of practical real-life experience that brought it to a new level.”

According to the Massachusetts Medical Society, the mission of the Israel Trauma Coalition is “to create a continuum of care in the trauma field, response and preparedness, by leveraging diverse resources to initiate, prioritize, and optimize services. The ITC provides a comprehensive view of the trauma field, whilst working towards strengthening community resilience and ensuring national emergency preparedness. The ITC harnesses the collective knowledge, expertise and experience of Israel’s leading NGO’s and government organizations- as no organization can do this work alone.”

By Rachel Avraham