Oso slide search taking toll on crews, volunteers

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by ABBEY GIBB / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on March 31, 2014 at 7:31 PM

Updated Monday, Mar 31 at 7:40 PM

ARLINGTON - As more than 600 people continue to sift through the tons of debris, the weight of what they're seeing has become almost too much to bear.

"It impacts all of us, it takes a toll.  "This rubble pile is just a challenge, it's just a challenge so we're tired," said Lt. Richard Burke, Bellevue Fire Dept.

Many of these men and women are local neighbors with no formal training who rushed to the scene within hours and have never left.

"They're finding their loved ones and looking for their loved ones and that makes it even more difficult.  We talked to a guy this morning who said, 'I know everybody we've uncovered so far,'" said WSP Psychology Director Dr. Dan Clark.

Dr. Clark has been on the ground for days.  His team, along with chaplains and other stress experts, are doing all they can to help.  As grueling as the work is, he found many of the volunteers refused to leave.

"They often have what we call a '1000 yard stare.'  They're staring off and not seeing much of anything," he added.

The key? Get them to open up, Lt. Burke said, and perhaps take a day off.

"Get them some sleep, back with their families, try to put some normalcy back into their lives because we may need them back out here," said Burke.
 

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