Friday, March 19, 2010

The Bees

Two women in Phoenix, Arizona were out for a walk yesterday evening, when they were attacked by a large swarm of bees.  Authorities estimate they were each stung approximately 1,000 times before firefighters managed to rescue them and a passerby who tried to help them.  All three were hospitalized, and both women are in critical condition.  Neighbors say that some kids were throwing rocks at a bee hive nearby just before the incident.

This is another one of those dangers that you just don't entertain as a possibility.  I don't know about you, but the thought of being covered by stinging bees makes me physically ill -- just the thought of it.  I can't even imagine what it would be like to actually have it happen.  I don't care for bees, I've been stung a time or two, and I try to avoid them.  I teach my children to leave them alone and they'll leave you alone.  And I don't spend a great deal of time considering the possibility of them coming to get me.

This situation fits the definition of a "critical incident" precisely.  It is an event which, because of its suddenness and violence, has the potential to overwhelm one's usual coping skills.  This actually is true in both the emotional and the physical domains.  Witnesses describe the women lying on the ground unable to move from the pain, and one can only imagine the nightmares something like this has the potential to cause.

Nevertheless, these women are actually very poor candidates for Critical Incident Stress Management, at least right now.  CISM follows Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, and physical needs come first.  Injured people still sick enough to be in the hospital are by definition not secure in having their physical needs met, and you really can't move on to anything else under those circumstances.  There have been some very critical studies done of CISM that indicate it might be harmful, but these often involve researchers not trained in CISM and traumatized people who are hospitalized -- two big no-nos.

When their physical health is stable, these women may find that the emotional response to this is getting in their way, and if so CISM might well be in order.  They may also find that, while this wasn't a pleasant experience, they are able to rebound from it fairly well on their own.  There really isn't a good way to tell.  One thing is probably certain, however.  They'll never look at a bee quite the same again.


Anonymous said...

Yikes! I generally like bees, but this is awful.

Colleen said...

When I was 3 or 4, my brother poked a fallen bee hive with a stick (it wasn't paper wasps, it was a big hive, like those square boxes of tissue). I STILL remember, vividly, the line of bees flying out at us!

We each only got stung a couple of times, but oh, do I remember the attack!

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