Disaster Strikes Amtrak Train 188

An Amtrak train, Train 188, a Northeast Regional, “had left Washington, D.C. headed to New York City, derailed and tipped over in Philadelphia on Tuesday night, mangling the front of it, tearing the cars apart and killing at least five people.”

We were just there, President Lenny Davidman and I. Both of us left Washington, D.C. almost at the same time on our way back to Penn Station from Union Square following the State Leadership Conference. Lenny took a Northeast Regional train, and I took the Acela.

In this tragedy:

More than 130 people were hospitalized, and six were critically injured.

Police swarming around Tuesday’s derailment site, in Port Richmond, a working-class area, told people to get back, away from the train. They pleaded with curious onlookers: “Do NOT go to scene of derailment. Please allow 1st responders room to work.”


Another article with graphic pictures:


I echo New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s message:

“NYC sends thoughts & prayers to the passengers, crew and families of those aboard @Amtrak 188.”

A sad reminder of an important area of work for psychologists who play a role in many different aspects: pre-employment evaluations; evaluating employees including fitness to return to work; forensic work; and as trauma experts: providing services to survivors (adults and children), bystanders, first responders, rescue workers, and treatment providers.

In honor of 9/11, and not by coincidence, I am making the following presentation for Suffolk County Psychological Association on September 11, 2015 at Adelphi University, Hauppauge Campus:

The Worst of Mankind and the Best of Humanity:

A Comparison of Natural and Human-Made PTSD and Traumatic Reactions in First Responders and Caregivers

The workshop will review the basics of PTSD, causes, symptoms in survivors (adults and children), bystanders, first responders, rescue workers, treatment providers, and exposure through electronic media, how to evaluate PTSD, and clinical and forensic applications in which PTSD may play a role.

There are so many different circumstances in which PTSD can rear its ugly head:

  1. Natural disasters: hurricanes, tornadoes, deadly blizzards, cyclones, earthquakes, monsoons, deadly storms, deadly heat-waves, tsunamis, wild-fires.
  2. Man-made disasters: war, displacement caused by civil war or other social unrest, deadly fires, etc.
  3. Acts of terrorism: 9/11, etc.
  4. Acts of violence: child abuse, emotional, mental, physical abuse, domestic violence, mayhem, physical or sexual assault, rape, sexual abuse and molestation, rioting and urban violence (such as gang violence).
  5. Accidents: airplane crashes; car, rail, boat or ship accidents; elevator accidents; deadly stampedes (at some soccer games, concerts, or riots).
  6. Life threatening illnesses.
  7. Captivity: prostitution brothels, long-term domestic violence, organized child exploitation rings; sex slave trade.

Regarding the first category: consider what people in the path of tornadoes in Oklahoma experienced and are going through:


With the fifth category, in addition to this Amtrak train crash, we had the high profile Germanwings crash recently and a few other plane crashes this year:



With the fourth category, the recent rioting in Baltimore speaks volumes:






And the last category, recall the kidnapping victims of Ariel Castro?




And how many mental health professionals work with the victims and/or perpetrators of child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, sexual abuse, sexual assault, molestation and rape?


And so on…



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