It is obvious that the 9/11 events resulted in extremely traumatic experiences for the firefighters who survived the attack and saw many of their co-workers die in the collapse of the World Trade Center towers. As it turned out later, some of them, in particular, 8 firefighters of Rescue 5, divorced their wives and married the widows of the firefighters who died on that day (Morales, 2007).
If the supposition that marriages were in trouble prior to 9/11 is left out, it can be assumed that firefighters were not able to recover from the traumatic experiences caused by the attack and subsequent deaths of their friends. It is not uncommon, that relationships among groups like firefighters, SWAT members and similar groups are very close-knit and that people who risk their lives virtually every day lose some sense of reality. They often take it personally if their associates get injured or die in action. The Rescue 5 firefighters may have been misled by a false feeling of guilt thinking they had not done enough to save their comrades. It fact, they might have felt they had to do something for their dead friends’ families even at the cost of their own.
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Often as disaster survivors go through the Disillusionment Phase they begin to come to grips with the reality of their situation. Since that phase lasts from several months to a year or more, they may re-experience some negative emotions because of certain triggered events (McMahon, 2011). If that was accompanied by ‘emotional numbing’ (Bloom, 1999, p. 7) in cases of repetitive and almost unendurable traumas, when they had to see the attack scene and their friends’ widows regularly, that could have been very damaging to the relationships with their own wives. As a result, they escaped to the only reasonable conclusion – they decided to pay tributes to their dead friends through taking care of their widows.
When there are any kinds of disastrous situations taking place, the disaster victims and their families should be relocated temporarily or permanently and given psychological support. That will help the reconstruction process and will keep the victims from re-experiencing the trauma.
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