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Chief psychologist after the terror attacks in Paris: Now it is all about retrieving faith in everyday life

​When people experience a dramatic incident like the terror attacks in Paris on Friday, most of us subsequently will experience more or less strong reactions. The person will enter a kind of state of emergency and experience a feeling of being unfamiliar with his/her own body. This perfectly normal symptom shows that the process of understand-ing what happened has begun.
“It is very important to know the reactions that can occur upon a dramatic incident and the changes your surroundings may notice. You behave differently. You are more prone to crying, more irritable and restless. Use your next of kin – they are important in the process of returning to normal. Listen to your surroundings and next of kin who are trying to help you. Share your thoughts and feelings with others and recognise and accept that these reactions constitute a normal extension of your experience,” explains Annette Gaard, Chief psychologist in Falck.
She continues: “When we are affected by such tremendous incidents, we loose of trust and faith in the world around us for a moment. We are shaken and experience pointlessness and loss of control which frightens and shocks us as we are confronted with our vulnerability.”
In the time after a dramatic incident, many may experience symptoms of stress and overload which can express itself by the following symptoms:
  • A sense of unreality in form of change in perception of time
  • Sharpened senses
  • Heavy and fast heartbeat
  • Sleeplessness
  • Living over the incident again
  • Concentration problems
  • Despair and irritability
  • Vulnerability and insecurity of when the incident will reoccur
  • A sense of pointlessness
Basically, the feelings of adults and children are no different but the feelings may express itself differently. The reactions of children depend on, e.g. the age and development of the child and the emotional importance of the incident to the child. Regardless of the character of these reactions, it is important to listen to the child and let him/her respond to what has happened. Talk to the child when s/he asks questions and tell openly about what has happened but abstain from going into details that the child cannot handle or understand. Keep calm and tell the child that everyday life will return.
“Children are often very spontaneous. One moment they can easily talk about serious topics and suddenly go back to playing – that is perfectly normal. What is important is that the child can feel the closeness and care of the adult”, Annette Gaard explains.  

How to help
Next of kins to people who has experienced a dramatic incident can help the person in various ways, e.g. by

  • Offering practical help
  • Offering emotional support by listening
  • Providing distraction by suggesting different activities
  • Being at disposal – now and in the future
  • If it is a child, by listening and talking to the child and let him/her respond to the incident
 Where to seek help
Your general practitioner can help and support as well and advise you on the possibilities of crisis relief, e.g. psychological counselling.
Other authorities to contact for help are:
Emergency treatment services
  • Oslo: Storgaten 40, +47 2293 2293
  • Bergen: Psykiatrisk legevakt, Solheimsgaten 9, +47 5556 8700
Kirkens SOS: + 47 22 40 00 40,
Mental Helses hjelpetelefon: +47 116 123,
Swedish police
+46 771 14 14 00,
Care Guide for health advice
+46 771 11 77 00,
On duty priest: +46 18 474 50 32,
After the terror attacks in Paris on Friday, Falck has deployed a crisis team to France. The team, which consists of a crisis psychologist and crisis coordinators, is situated at the hotel Mercure Paris Charles de Gaulle, Allée du Vergers, 95700 Roissy En France. Here, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish travellers can seek information, help and advice on, e.g. handling insecurity, medical and psychological assistance, travel logistics and insurance coverage.
In addition, travellers who are in Paris can contact Falck Global Assistance’s 24/7 emergency response centres.
Denmark +45 7025 0405
Norway +47 2149 2415
Sweden +46 8 58 771 717
​Falck Global Assistance is a part of Falck Group that offers worldwide rescue services.

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Falck Global Assistance, Sydhavnsgade 18, DK-2450 Copenhagen | CBR: 38049399 | email: | tel: +45 70 25 04 05