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Here’s how Phoenix first responders are coping with the killing of 3 kids

A makeshift memorial is set up near a home where a Phoenix woman was arrested on suspicion of killing her three children after they were found dead inside the family home Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX — The killing of three young children in Phoenix on Monday night has shaken the community, including the first responders who were on the scene.

The city’s police and fire departments both sent home some employees who responded to the residence where the children were found dead.

“They’ll have a couple days off,” Phoenix Fire Capt. Rob McDade told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Tuesday.

“And then they can come back to work knowing that after that call, they didn’t try to work through any other calls with that call in the back of their mind.”

Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams told KTAR News’ Arizona’s Morning News on Wednesday her department sent two people home to be with their families after the call.

“We understand that our employees are traumatized, as well as the people involved,” she said. “It was bad.”

Firefighters attempted CPR on the 3-year-old boy, 1-year-old girl and 7-month old girl at the residence near Baseline Road and 24th Street but could not resuscitate them.

Police said their mother, 22-year-old Rachel Henry, later admitted to smothering the children while singing to them.

Sgt. Jared Lowe, who is in charge of the department’s employee assistance unit, told KTAR News calls with kids are especially hard.

“Whether you have kids or not, it’s not natural to see things happen to children,” he said.

Lowe said the department has a three-prong approach to helping staff cope: peer support, a clinical team with counselors, and chaplains.

“For a lot of folks, they have spiritual questions about the scene that they responded to or what they are dealing with,” he said.

Lowe said his team works to reach those affected and let them know help is available.

“One of the things we’re really focusing on is trying to meet with our employees and make sure they know the resources that are available to them,” he said.

“So if they need any kind of counseling, or if they need resiliency or self-care techniques, for them or their families, all of that is just a call away.”

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Peter Samore and Ali Vetnar contributed to this report. 

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