Albert dealt with her anguish the day she left for home. "I went out to the site, and looked around at all the flowers and poems people had left and just wept. It was my catharsis."
Just as some disasters are worse than others, some also have more impact on the trauma counselors.
"With the Northridge earthquake, although many people were upset, there wasn't a great loss of life, just property," says Dusty Bowencamp, a disaster health services supervisor for the American Red Cross in Los Angeles. "The counselor would spend 15 to 20 minutes with the average client and get them going in the right direction and move on, working a 12- to 14-hour shift.
"In Oklahoma City, there was a tremendous loss of life and a feeling that this was a senseless tragedy. The victims needed much more emotional first aid, with counselors spending one to two hours with them. Because of the effect on the counselors, they only worked four-hour shifts."
When a disaster occurs, local trauma counselors can respond quickly, sometimes getting to the site just as the police and firefighters arrive. In Oklahoma City, they began working within 10 minutes of the bombing. But local counselors are not always the best people to have treating victims.