Saranac Public Schools student death (MI)

Start Date: 09/03/2019


Request received by RD Nick Meier to deploy to Saranac Public Schools for a middle school student that had died during football practice. This occurred in view of many people due to two separate sporting events being held that day. The activity of Fire/Rescue and EMS on scene as well as the helicopter landing drew a large crowd to the field.

The team arrived at 0700 and the TL made contact with the assistant principal and superintendent as the principal was on vacation. We were briefed on the events of the day. The social workers were not present yet so the teams deployed to the entrances for the arrival of students. After the students were in class we were able to go to our break room and meet the counselors and mental health professionals. Everyone present was happy to have us there.

Throughout the day we sat in on one on one sessions with staff and 8 high risk students. We also deployed to the halls on breaks as well as a lunch held just for the football team. Initially one team deployed to the elementary school while the remainder stayed at the Junior/Senior high building. Later in the afternoon the remaining teams went to elementary. Right after the lunch the family of the student asked to bring the rest of the siblings in to meet the dogs in a private session which we accommodated.

Due to there being a four day holiday weekend the initial trauma of the event seemed to have worn off. There was not much emotion or distress being displayed. Students seemed glad to meet the dogs but it was difficult to judge how effective they were being at providing comfort versus just being happy to meet a dog.

Overall Day 1 went very well and we were well received. We made several good contacts with professionals that took copies of the tri-fold brochure for future use. We also got two new teams off to a good start and they did great.

Agency: Saranac Public Schools

William Engelter - Team Leader, Bob Starr and Oliver, Gloria VanAlstine and Juliet, Lawrene Friedman and Montie, Kay Rice and Maia