IAM Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) representatives last week mobilized in Orlando, FL to aid IAM members, their families and the community following the worst mass shooting in American history. IAM member and Southwest Airlines Customer Service Representative (CSR) Angelique Caro was shot and wounded and IAM member and United Airlines CSR Angel Mendez lost his son, Jean Carlos Mendez.
IAM District 141 and 142 EAP Chairpersons, Kathy Ferguson and Paul Schultz, District 141 East Coast Region EAP Representative Victor Acosta, CIRT Coordinator Stephanie Starks and Grand Lodge Representative Joe Stassi were dispatched to Orlando shortly after the shooting and met with IAM members and their families in an effort to assess and stabilize the situation and get needed resources to affected IAM members and their families.
"I thank Stephanie, Kathy, Paul, Victor and Joe who immediately went to Orlando to do what they could to ease the pain of that city," said General Vice President Sito Pantoja. "I want every single IAM member, particularly Angelique and Angel, to know that their union is here for them and will stand by them during this most difficult time. That’s what brothers and sisters do."
"I cannot put into words the feeling I had when this one young man hugged me repeatedly and said thank you for caring," said IAM CIRT Coordinator and Flight Attendant Stephanie Starks. "It makes it all so very worthwhile to make a positive difference and bring comfort to someone who is hurting."
Stephanie, Joe, Kathy, Paul and Victor met with IAM members and their families during the week, as well as visited Angelique in the hospital and met with Angel at his home.
IAM EAP and CIRT Representatives undergo rigorous training at the William W. Winpisinger Center to aid IAM members, their families and the community at large to deal with issues as varied as substance abuse and family stressors to catastrophic events such as last Saturday’s mass shooting.
EAP and CIRT Representatives will continue to be part of IAM members and their families’ healing process and will provide necessary resources to them as needed.
“The initial response is primarily to stabilize the situation,” said IAM District 141 Director Bryan Hutchinson. “The real response comes two to four weeks after the incident when other support has been withdrawn and the media attention has died down."