The Clutha Tragedy: 'People didn't film the crash, they came to help'

WITH the search and recovery operation at the Clutha bar complete the priority now moves to helping those who lost loved ones or were touched by the tragedy.

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  • Residents have been praised as the city tries to move forward
    Residents have been praised as the city tries to move forward
  • Residents have been praised as the city tries to move forward
  • Residents have been praised as the city tries to move forward
  • Residents have been praised as the city tries to move forward
  • Residents have been praised as the city tries to move forward
  • Residents have been praised as the city tries to move forward

But as ANGELA McMANUS discovered rebuilding lives can be difficult and can take many years

THE process of emotional healing will take far longer than the accident investigation but the city's community spirit will help many, according to Dr Cynthia McVey, health psychologist at Glasgow Caledonian University.

"What has been heartening has been the way everybody in Glasgow seems to have felt this significantly," she explains.

"There are many prayers, many good wishes, many thoughts and much practical help which has been offered from taxi drivers to hotels that opened their doors to a supermarket providing food.

"This crash has shown the vulnerability of human life and the unexpected nature of accidents and it reminds us of the goodness that is out there."

She says the bereaved may feel consoled and comforted by the reaction of the public and the fact that they are aware that even the person on the street who didn't know their loved one died still cares.

Emergency services crew will likely have the professional and personal resources to move on, according to Cynthia.

"Although tragically the policewoman in the helicopter was related to one of the firefighters, they are trained to deal with emergencies and they probably have significant support services available.

"But it will still be very hard because when a colleague is lost it becomes very personal and that will have touched them all: it's your own folk, so it's much more difficult."

Coping with the after-effects of such a dramatic event as the helicopter crash is especially difficult at this time of year.

"Because it is close to Christmas, all around are people beginning to celebrate - adverts about family and friends and people being together and all the joyful things Christmas can represent," she says.

"Family and friends of the dead may have a present for the person who is gone and it will be hard, as it is hard for everyone who loses somebody, but very poignant so close to Christmas."

The unexpected nature of the event makes it very difficult for some people to cope.

When you get on a plane you might think twice but when you're sitting in a pub having a pint and watching a band you don't expect tragedy to strike.

"The unexpected nature of it brings home your sense of mortality and for those who escaped they will feel fortunate they got out but some might have survivor's guilt," she says. "They might think, why did this person I knew who was standing at the bar, and was a great guy, die and I didn't? That can make people uncomfortable and reflect on their lives."

Survivors and those who ran into the bar without a second thought to help people escape are still suffering from trauma, revisiting events in their mind and remembering images of the injured. It is too early to say if they will suffer post-traumatic stress disorder but they will certainly experience moments of reflection when they revisit the event again and again in their mind, reliving the traumatic emotional feelings.

"For those who survived you don't want them feeling guilty about it, they should be able to reflect on the fact that life is good and they are glad they are still here," she says.

The public nature of the helicopter crash and warmth of community spirit on show since Friday night will boost spirits city-wide, according to Cynthia.

"One of the things that happens when somebody dies is that other people don't like to mention the person who is dead and will cross the street rather than say, I'm sorry to hear about your brother. The marvellous Glasgow citizens didn't turn on their phones and stand filming the crash and sending it to TV stations, they put their phones down and went in and helped. That was one of the significant things about the crash.

"People didn't want to post anything on Twitter or Facebook, they wanted to help, and were working to get people out before the emergency services got there. It was remarkable.

"I think because people know and sympathise, they will not cross to the other side of the street and that's a good thing."

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                Janice Bell                

Janice Bell


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