Chaplains sent to help in Sandy Hook return to Charlotte

Chaplains sent to help in Sandy Hook return to Charlotte

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by GLENN COUNTS / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @GCountsWCNC

WCNC.com

Posted on January 4, 2013 at 11:29 PM

Updated Saturday, Jan 5 at 12:31 AM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Chaplains with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team are used to going into the most difficult of situations.

But nothing could prepare them for the school shooting tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown Connecticut last month.

"These are things that are unspeakable things we won’t talk about again because they were that bad," said Al New who manages the team. "I being a retired first responder, you think about your own children and how it could have been them."

Ten chaplains with the association were on the ground hours after the tragedy. Their job was to provide a shoulder or an ear to those first responders who needed emotional support.

"We were there the same day of the shooting. There were ten of us on the ground immediately. We were listening to the stories over a two and a half day period. It impacted our team very much," said New.

The chaplains spent a lot of time talking to Connecticut State Police officers who were in the school building.

"No life, basically no life where they touched. So it was very hard on the State Police officers who were in the school. Our goal is to try and help them release that," said New.

Mental health professionals also dealt with the officers, but things were so bad that even the pros needed someone to talk to.

"No one was prepared for this, not even the first responders. All the chaplains who were there were the best of the best," New said.

Some of the team members were able to come home for Christmas, but New said their thoughts and prayers were with the victims.

"The take away that I personally got from this trip was I never want to do it again. All of us who were able to went home for Christmas [but] it did not feel like Christmas."
 

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