By Ruth Buczynski, PHD. April 17, 2013

When I saw the pictures of Monday’s tragedy in Boston, my heart went out to all the people in the race – from the runners, to their families and friends and of course the residents of Boston – all gathered for what should have been a day of celebration and accomplishment.

But one person in particular caught my eye: someone in the special jacket that the marathon coordinators use to identify the medical staff on site.

Given the nature of the bomb, the quick response of the medical staff probably saved many lives.

My late partner, Christine Huda, co-founder of NICABM, served as a nurse at several of the Boston marathons when she was alive.

Her service always inspired me, and in light of this week’s events, it got me thinking about the critical role that practitioners play when treating a person who’s experienced trauma.

One of the major indicators of PTSE is a sense of feeling distant or cut off from others.

But according to Peter Levine, PhD, there are practical ways to minimize the onset of future traumatic symptoms. He shared this quick strategy:

The first thing is to make a gentle but firm pressure – on a person’s forearm and to say things like: “I’m here. We are going to take care of you. Things are going to be okay.”

So if the person looks at you, and actually with you through face-to-face contact or bodily contact, that actually betters the person from diving into shut-down or being hijacked by hyperarousal. Just making contact.

I cannot understate the importance of making social connections after a trauma. Just by making that contact human to human we can change the course of healing.