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Aftermath of Surfside building collapse having a major impact on mental health, doctor says

Posted at 6:16 PM, Jun 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-30 18:18:13-04

Buried underneath the mountain of rubble that used to be the Champlain Towers South are missing loved ones. And on top of that mountain, first responders are working round the clock, still hopeful they’ll find signs of life.

"It’s very sad. The times that I've been going up on the pile and you find strollers, baby bottles, and stuffed toys, it just brings a sense of reality to the moment. It’s very touching because i have kids myself. So it’s tough," said Lt. Douglas Duarte with Miami-Dade Fire Rescue.

While first responders are trained to deal with emergencies, Dr. Sandra Boynton with the National Alliance on Mental Illness says nothing can truly prepare them psychologically after facing a mass tragedy like this. She said first responders may suffer similar effects to the 9/11 events.

"I can only imagine that they are in fight mode at this time. They’re doing what they have to do. But we also have to consider that PTSD occurs in different ways and just having to go through the experience that they’re going through, we worry about our first responders even after completing their tasks," said Dr. Boynton.

Dr. Boynton said it’s important to reach out for help and do things you enjoy to get your mind out of this current situation.

"It’s so important that we reach out at this point. You talk to somebody whether it be a family member or just be around people in general. If you chose not to talk about the current issue, just be in the company of others," she said.

Dogs eased the situation Wednesday morning, seen at hotels where survivors and families reside, to act as emotional support dogs. One of the many ways organizations are coming together.

Rabbi Gidon Moskovitz with Young Israel of Bal Harbour, sending a message of hope to the community.

"With all the pain and all the angst and all the worry, there is hope and there is prayer. I think people are embracing that. They’re also seeing an out pour of incredible kindness that’s coming in locally, nationally and internationally," said Moskovitz.

NAMI Miami-Dade is offering trauma, emotional support and counseling services - free of charge.

"If you are in Broward County or Palm Beach County, reach out to your local NAMI affiliate and we’ll provide all the services you need or we can direct you to those who can," said Dr. Boynton.