BLOOMINGTON, Minn. - As soon as the Community Relations and Emergency Management Director of Bloomington Schools heard about the Connecticut school shootings, he paused, for just a moment.
"I closed my eyes when I heard this. What I see are kids running out of the building with their hands behind their heads," he said.
Rick Kaufman was the communications executive in Colorado who worked countless hours following the massacre at Columbine High School in 1999. Twelve students and one teacher were killed that day.
"Being one of the first persons on the scene, our job really was to triage; help those students who were shot," Kaufman recalled.
In the years since, he has helped other districts and law enforcement agencies across the country deal with these tragedies. He has reached out to the administrators and school staff in Connecticut.
"The difficulty is trying to take it all in and the wonderment of what to do next and am I doing the right things?" he told KARE 11.
Kaufman says the shock won't wear off for weeks as the community buries those who were killed.
In the month and a half that followed the Columbine massacre, 750 media outlets covered the tragedy on the ground. The communications staff answered 1,000 media inquiries a day. You would think all that attention would make the healing process more difficult.
"I would say this. Is it difficult? It is, but it also brings tremendous resources to bear," Kaufman explained.
Following the school shooting in Colorado, the district also received 1,000 calls a day from across the country offering help. Kaufman says the community in Connecticut will focus on how the victims lived, not how they died. He warns the emotions will be around for quite awhile.
"For the parents it was extremely difficult and extremely heart wrenching, trying to make sense of a senseless act. In the days that followed it was trying to develop a sense of healing among a community of students and staff and the community at large," the school emergency management expert concluded.
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