I cannot find the words to describe yesterday’s events. Tragic. Brave. Heroic. No single word or phrase feels powerful enough to condemn the ‘terror’ or to honour those who lost their lives.
I am currently working at the Home Office, literally just around the corner from where the events took place. I knew nothing of what happened until my wife called me in a panic to check I was OK. I was OK because I was incredibly lucky to be sat in an office, unlike our truly courageous colleagues on duty outside of Westminster Palace yesterday.
As time has passed since 3pm yesterday when I first became aware, I have already gone through a mix of emotions. Surprise. Sadness. Realisation. Guilt.
Surprise is obvious. Although we all knew the risks that an attack may happen, you can never truly be prepared emotionally for when it actually does. No amount of training or rehearsal can prepare a person emotionally for something like that. This is why the response from the officers and emergency services involved was truly amazing. You can never presume to know what it was like to walk in their shoes yesterday.
Sadness for all those who lost their lives, those who have been seriously injured and those who mentally will continue to re-live what they saw for days, weeks and even years later. For some, the feelings they experienced, the sights they saw will never ever leave them. Even the most resilient will struggle with this.
Sadness for PC Keith Palmer, his family, his friends and his colleagues. But also the greatest of respect. He paid the ultimate sacrifice for serving the Queen, MPs, you and I.
Realisation. Since May last year when I started my secondment, I have walked past the location of yesterday’s events many, many times. Even at that exact time of day.
Guilt, because I wasn’t far away yesterday. I could have been there to help. I am under no illusion, I would not have been able to impact on what happened, but I could have been there to help in some way no matter how small. After all, as police officers it is our duty.
As I write this article I experience all of these emotions. If this is how I feel, then I am sure many of you will experience similar emotions for your own reasons. Whilst our thoughts will be about Keith Palmer, his family, and everyone else fatally or catastrophically injured; it is not wrong to also take a moment to think about how you are feeling. How your colleagues might be feeling. I didn’t personally know Keith and you may not have either, but we are one police family, so we may feel we did know him. When one of us hurts, we all hurt.
I know 100% that police officers around the country, even the world, will rally around to support PC Keith Palmer’s family in anyway they can. This is what family does.
The true intent of this article however, is about you and the entire police family. When everyone hurts, some hurt more than others. Some are more resilient than others. Some feel a personal connection more than others. Some suffer more openly than others. Some suffer in silence more than others.
Whether it is today, tomorrow, next week or next year; please look out for your colleagues. Look for those who are suffering, those struggling to come to terms with yesterdays events and any other event you encounter on a daily basis as part of your job, your profession. Talk to one another. Support one another. Be there for each other. Seek help if you need it. Show someone the way to help if they need it.
We are all part of the police family. Now more than ever we must be strong together and look after each other.
If you or someone you know is in need of support or someone to talk to, there are a plethora of options available to you. Here are just a few:
* Your GP
* Occupational Health
* TRiM advisor
* MIND Blue light (helpline 0300 303 5999)
* The Samaritans
* Charities such as Police Dependants’ Trust, Call4Backup, PTSD999 and more
* Police Federation of England and Wales
* Staff support associations
* Your family, friends and colleagues
There are many other avenues of support. The above in not an exhaustive list and the DPA does not officially endorse any of the services above.