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|September 11, 2008
Director of Communications
COUNTY JUVENILE PROBATION OFFICER REFLECTS ON
HER ROLE AS FIRST RESPONDER TO 9/11
When Essex County Juvenile Court Probation
Officer Kim Howe Lawrence witnessed the devastating events
of 9/11 unfold on television seven years ago, the former
Victim Advocate phoned the Massachusetts Office for Victim
Assistance (MOVA) in Boston with an offer to help.
“I knew that people were going to need
help with dealing with this,” said the 11-year Probation
Officer who trained with the National Office for Victim
Assistance to become a First Responder to national tragedies
such as 9/ll and the Oklahoma City government building
bombing in April 1995.
Lawrence was part of a team of 10 First Responders
from Massachusetts – primarily government employees—who
were dispatched to New York to assist the families of 9/11
victims as well as surviving victims and those who witnessed
this tragic event.
By coincidence, Lawrence had called the National
Office in New York prior to the planes crashing into the
World Trade Center to check to see if her name was still
on the roster.
“I don’t know what made me call
that day. I had participated in the training in 1996 after
the first World Trade Center bombing,” Lawrence recalled.
She continued, “The thing about the
training that was helpful is that you learn how you can
be helpful. When something like this happens, no one knows
what to say. No one knows what to do.”
Lawrence participated in a one-week tour,
during which she and her teammates 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
“We were part of a Crisis Response
team and spent each day working with people who were dealing
with crises. We were each assigned roles, which were rotated.
For example, there was the widow who needed a death certificate,
the office worker who had no job to return to…we
would walk the person through whatever they needed,” she
Lawrence, who works in the Salem office of
the Essex County Juvenile Court Probation Department, uses
this training often in her position as a Probation Officer.
She was on hand to counsel middle school students whose
“It is helpful to have this training
so that I can help kids during a crisis or kids who are
victims or witnesses to crimes,” she said.
Of her experience as a First Responder, Lawrence
said, “I don’t think I ever cried so much in
the week I worked as a First Responder to 9/11, but, I
would never not have done it.”
Her boss, Chief Probation Officer Daniel
Passacantilli, said “That’s the kind of Probation
Officer she is. She is the same way with the children she