Waukesha Christmas Parade: How to start conversation of healing

Less than 24-hours after a man drove his car through a parade in Waukesha, behavioral health experts are working to help people process what happened.

Here's how to start the conversation of healing.

More than 20 injured when SUV plows into Christmas parade

"Trauma doesn’t just affect the people that were there to witness it. It affects the people that can think about they may have been there, they have friends or family the same age as those who were injured or do those particular activities. And whether or not they’ve had trauma in their past," said Dr. Chad Wetterneck of Rogers Behavioral Health.

Behavioral health specialists are working to address the trauma inflicted on those who experienced what happened.

"One reaction to trauma is to try to not think about it…that would be the action I would advise people do not do," said Dr. Wetterneck. "You really actually need to try to engage and talk with other people."

Experts say that the sooner you can start addressing trauma from the moment it occurred… the healthier the healing process can be.

This is why it’s crucial to talk with your children.

Dr. Chad Wetterneck

"We actually want to be truthful with them about what happened, but if we don’t ask about all the things that they’ve heard – they may have some misinformation. Something they heard could actually be potentially even more scary than what actually happened," said Dr. Wetterneck.

Doing this in a welcoming, and healthy, manner present yourself as a positive role model… when it comes to dealing with trauma.

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Something, this doctor said – they will mimic as they grow up.

"Assure them, or reassure them, that this is not something that – it’s a tragedy that happens very rarely. And most of the time we’re safe to go to all of these events whether it’s school, a parade, walking down the street and that you’re willing to support them in the future if anything like this would happen again," he said.

Talk, ask questions, and most importantly – listen.

Doctors advise anyone seeking professional help in dealing with the trauma from this event to find someone who specializes in the kind of treatment you are looking for.

If you or a loved one is experiencing emotions such as anger, confusion, distress, or is in crisis, please know you are not alone. Local mental health resources are available for children and adults:

  • IMPACT 2-1-1FREE - 24 hours/7 days a week
  • FREE - 24 hours/7 days a week
  • Milwaukee County mental health crisis line - 414-257-7222FREE - 24 hours/7 days a week
  • FREE - 24 hours/7 days a week
  • Milwaukee County Children’s Mobile Crisis Team - 414-257-7621FREE - For children and adolescents up to age 23 seeking assistance via phone or having a resource meet them in the community.
  • FREE - For children and adolescents up to age 23 seeking assistance via phone or having a resource meet them in the community.
  • Milwaukee County Resource & Referral Line - 414-257-7607FREE - For children and adolescents up to age 23 seeking resources or support.
  • FREE - For children and adolescents up to age 23 seeking resources or support.
  • Rogers Behavioral Health

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Waukesha Christmas Parade: Vigil for victims

An interfaith prayer vigil following Sunday’s tragedy during the annual Waukesha Christmas Parade will be held at 5 p.m. Monday at Cutler Park.