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|September 10, 2010
Director of Communications
Essex County Juvenile Probation Officer
Recalls First Responder Role on 9/11 Anniversary
Kim Howe Lawrence, an Essex County Juvenile Probation Officer in Salem, was
part of a team of ten First Responders from Massachusetts who were dispatched to the World Trade Center following the devastating events of 9/11 nine years ago.
“Like anybody, on any anniversary, I am reminded of it all. I think about what happened. It was a completely surreal experience,” said Lawrence, who trained with the National Office of Victim Assistance to become a First Responder to national tragedies such as 9/11 and the Oklahoma City government building bombing in April 1995.
As a member of the First Responders, Lawrence remains on a list and participates
in trainings that prepare her to assist at times of national crisis.
By coincidence, Lawrence -- a former Victim Advocate -- called the National Office in New York prior to the planes crashing into the World Trade Center to make sure her name was still on the roster.
“I don’t know what made me call that day,” she recalled.
After watching the events of 9/11 unfold on television weeks later, she then contacted the Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance (MOVA) in Boston to offer help.
Lawrence cannot forget what she and other First Responders saw. “The area was still burning and we arrived 30 days after the crash. It was really quiet. Ash was everywhere.”
She participated in a one-week tour, during which she and her teammates - mostly government employees - spent each day at sites throughout the city, including fire stations, office buildings, and hospitals. The team conducted “de-briefings” and offered personal, individualized support to survivors at the Family Assistance Center set up by the National Red Cross.
Lawrence and other members of the team spent each day working with people who were dealing with crises. Each of the team members were assigned roles which were rotated. For example, there was the widow who needed a death certificate and the office worker who had no job to return to. Lawrence “walked them through whatever process was needed.”
She also uses this crisis training in her work as a Juvenile Probation Officer to help young people and the school community when there is a crisis. Lawrence has been on hand to help students, their families, teachers and school administrators through devastating events such as a child’s drowning several years ago and a car accident which claimed the life of a child.
“We as Probation Officers spend so much time in the schools and in the communities. The school is a community and when there is a crisis, you see the community deploy and respond. We are part of the community and assisting in times of crisis is part of my work,” she said.