Some things can’t be unseen: Coping mechanism for elite first responders

More than a dozen of the 80 team members of Virginia Task Force 1 deployed to the Virgin Islands also responded to Hurricane Harvey operations in Texas. (Courtesy Fairfax County Fire and Rescue)
More than a dozen of the 80 team members of Virginia Task Force 1 deployed to the Virgin Islands also responded to Hurricane Harvey operations in Texas. (Courtesy Fairfax County Fire and Rescue) (Courtesy Fairfax County Fire and Rescue)
Virginia Task Force 1 members work with airmen from Robins Air Force Base in Georgia to finalize pallet loads of supplies for potential air transport to the Virgin Islands assignment. (Courtesy Fairfax County Fire Department)
Virginia Task Force 1 members work with airmen from Robins Air Force Base in Georgia to finalize pallet loads of supplies for potential air transport to the Virgin Islands assignment. (Courtesy Fairfax County Fire Department) (Courtesy Fairfax County Fire and Rescue)
Virginia Task Force 1 of Fairfax County, Virginia, is also stationed in Katy, Texas, (Courtesy Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service)
Virginia Task Force 1 of Fairfax County, Virginia, were also stationed in Katy, Texas, last week. (Courtesy Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service) (Courtesy Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service)
Virginia Task Force 1 of Fairfax County is working in the Kingwood, Texas, area Thursday. (Courtesy Fairfax County Fire and Rescue)
Virginia Task Force 1 of Fairfax County worked in the Kingwood, Texas, area last week. (Courtesy Fairfax County Fire and Rescue) (Courtesy Fairfax County Fire and Rescue)
Virginia Task Force 1 of Fairfax County worked in the Kingwood, Texas, area Thursday. (Courtesy Fairfax County Fire and Rescue)
Virginia Task Force 1 of Fairfax County worked in the Kingwood, Texas, area last week. (Courtesy Fairfax County Fire and Rescue) (Courtesy Fairfax County Fire and Rescue)
Members of Virginia Task Force 1 on Thursday prepare for a full day of operations in which people and pets were rescued. In some cases people were delivered back to flooded homes to retrieve medicine or important papers. (Courtesy Fairfax County Fire and Rescue)
Members of Virginia Task Force 1 in Texas. (Courtesy Fairfax County Fire and Rescue) (Courtesy Fairfax County Fire and Rescue)
This undated photo provided on Sunday Sept. 10, 2017 by the British Ministry of Defence, shows the destruction in Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands left by Hurricane Irma. The death toll from Hurricane Irma has risen to 22 as the storm continues its destructive path through the Caribbean. (Joel Rouse/MOD via AP)
This undated photo provided on Sunday Sept. 10, 2017 by the British Ministry of Defence, shows the destruction in Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands left by Hurricane Irma. The death toll from Hurricane Irma has risen to 22 as the storm continues its destructive path through the Caribbean. (Joel Rouse/MOD via AP) (AP/Joel Rouse)
This Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017 photo shows storm damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands. Irma scraped Cuba's northern coast Friday on a course toward Florida, leaving in its wake a ravaged string of Caribbean resort islands strewn with splintered lumber, corrugated metal and broken concrete. (Jalon Manson Shortte via AP)
This Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017 photo shows storm damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands. Irma scraped Cuba’s northern coast Friday on a course toward Florida, leaving in its wake a ravaged string of Caribbean resort islands strewn with splintered lumber, corrugated metal and broken concrete. (Jalon Manson Shortte via AP) (AP/Jalon Manson Shortte)
CORRECTS DAY - This photo provided on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017 shows storm damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands. Irma scraped Cuba's northern coast Friday on a course toward Florida, leaving in its wake a ravaged string of Caribbean resort islands strewn with splintered lumber, corrugated metal and broken concrete. (Jalon Manson Shortte via AP)
This photo provided on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017 shows storm damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands. Irma scraped Cuba’s northern coast Friday on a course toward Florida, leaving in its wake a ravaged string of Caribbean resort islands strewn with splintered lumber, corrugated metal and broken concrete. (Jalon Manson Shortte via AP) (AP/Jalon Manson Shortte)
CORRECTS DATE  - This Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017, a man walks past an uprooted tree sitting in the middle of a road in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands. Irma scraped Cuba's northern coast Friday on a course toward Florida, leaving in its wake a ravaged string of Caribbean resort islands strewn with splintered lumber, corrugated metal and broken concrete. (Jalon Manson Shortte via AP)
This Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017, a man walks past an uprooted tree sitting in the middle of a road in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands. Irma scraped Cuba’s northern coast Friday on a course toward Florida, leaving in its wake a ravaged string of Caribbean resort islands strewn with splintered lumber, corrugated metal and broken concrete. (Jalon Manson Shortte via AP) (AP/Jalon Manson Shortte)
CORRECTS DAY - This photo provided on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017, shows storm damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Virgin Gorda's Gun Creek in the British Virgin Islands. Irma scraped Cuba's northern coast Friday on a course toward Florida, leaving in its wake a ravaged string of Caribbean resort islands strewn with splintered lumber, corrugated metal and broken concrete. (Caribbean Buzz Helicopters via AP)
This photo provided on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017, shows storm damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Virgin Gorda’s Gun Creek in the British Virgin Islands. Irma scraped Cuba’s northern coast Friday on a course toward Florida, leaving in its wake a ravaged string of Caribbean resort islands strewn with splintered lumber, corrugated metal and broken concrete. (Caribbean Buzz Helicopters via AP) (AP/Caribbean Buzz Helicopters)
This photo provided by Caribbean Buzz shows the destruction left in the wake of Hurricane Irma Friday, Sept. 8, 2017, in the U.S. Virgin Islands The death toll from Hurricane Irma has risen to 22 as the storm continues its destructive path through the Caribbean. The dead include 11 on St. Martin and St. Barts, four in the U.S. Virgin Islands and four in the British Virgin Islands. There was also one each in Barbuda, Anguilla, and Barbados. The toll is expected to rise as rescuers reach some of the hardest-hit areas. (Caribbean Buzz via AP)
This photo provided by Caribbean Buzz shows the destruction left in the wake of Hurricane Irma Friday, Sept. 8, 2017, in the U.S. Virgin Islands The death toll from Hurricane Irma has risen to 22 as the storm continues its destructive path through the Caribbean. The dead include 11 on St. Martin and St. Barts, four in the U.S. Virgin Islands and four in the British Virgin Islands. There was also one each in Barbuda, Anguilla, and Barbados. The toll is expected to rise as rescuers reach some of the hardest-hit areas. (Caribbean Buzz via AP) (AP)
This photo provided by Caribbean Buzz shows boats clustered together after Hurricane Irma Friday, Sept. 8, 2017. The death toll from Hurricane Irma has risen to 22 as the storm continues its destructive path through the Caribbean.
The dead include 11 on St. Martin and St. Barts, four in the U.S. Virgin Islands and four in the British Virgin Islands. There was also one each in Barbuda, Anguilla, and Barbados. The toll is expected to rise as rescuers reach some of the hardest-hit areas. (Caribbean Buzz via AP)
This photo provided by Caribbean Buzz shows boats clustered together after Hurricane Irma Friday, Sept. 8, 2017. The death toll from Hurricane Irma has risen to 22 as the storm continues its destructive path through the Caribbean.
The dead include 11 on St. Martin and St. Barts, four in the U.S. Virgin Islands and four in the British Virgin Islands. There was also one each in Barbuda, Anguilla, and Barbados. The toll is expected to rise as rescuers reach some of the hardest-hit areas. (Caribbean Buzz via AP) (AP)
CORRECTS DAY - This Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017 photo shows storm damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands. Irma scraped Cuba's northern coast Friday on a course toward Florida, leaving in its wake a ravaged string of Caribbean resort islands strewn with splintered lumber, corrugated metal and broken concrete. (Jalon Manson Shortte via AP)
This Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017 photo shows storm damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands. Irma scraped Cuba’s northern coast Friday on a course toward Florida, leaving in its wake a ravaged string of Caribbean resort islands strewn with splintered lumber, corrugated metal and broken concrete. (Jalon Manson Shortte via AP) (AP/Jalon Manson Shortte)
This photo provided on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017, shows storm damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in St. John's Caneel Bay in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Irma scraped Cuba's northern coast Friday on a course toward Florida, leaving in its wake a ravaged string of Caribbean resort islands strewn with splintered lumber, corrugated metal and broken concrete. (Caribbean Buzz Helicopters via AP)
This photo provided on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017, shows storm damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in St. John’s Caneel Bay in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Irma scraped Cuba’s northern coast Friday on a course toward Florida, leaving in its wake a ravaged string of Caribbean resort islands strewn with splintered lumber, corrugated metal and broken concrete. (Caribbean Buzz Helicopters via AP) (AP/Caribbean Buzz Helicopters)
CORRECTS DATE  - This Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017 photo shows boats washed ashore in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands. Irma scraped Cuba's northern coast Friday on a course toward Florida, leaving in its wake a ravaged string of Caribbean resort islands strewn with splintered lumber, corrugated metal and broken concrete. (Jalon Manson Shortte via AP)
This Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017 photo shows boats washed ashore in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands. Irma scraped Cuba’s northern coast Friday on a course toward Florida, leaving in its wake a ravaged string of Caribbean resort islands strewn with splintered lumber, corrugated metal and broken concrete. (Jalon Manson Shortte via AP) (AP/Jalon Manson Shortte)
CORRECTS DAY - This photo provided on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017, shows storm damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Virgin Gorda's Saba Rock in the British Virgin Islands. Irma scraped Cuba's northern coast Friday on a course toward Florida, leaving in its wake a ravaged string of Caribbean resort islands strewn with splintered lumber, corrugated metal and broken concrete. (Caribbean Buzz Helicopters via AP)
This photo provided on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017, shows storm damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Virgin Gorda’s Saba Rock in the British Virgin Islands. Irma scraped Cuba’s northern coast Friday on a course toward Florida, leaving in its wake a ravaged string of Caribbean resort islands strewn with splintered lumber, corrugated metal and broken concrete. (Caribbean Buzz Helicopters via AP) (AP/Caribbean Buzz Helicopters)
CORRECTS DAY - This photo provided on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017, shows the docks damaged by Hurricane Irma at Virgin Gorda's Yacht Club Costa Smeralda in the British Virgin Islands. Irma scraped Cuba's northern coast Friday on a course toward Florida, leaving in its wake a ravaged string of Caribbean resort islands strewn with splintered lumber, corrugated metal and broken concrete. (Caribbean Buzz Helicopters via AP)
This photo provided on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017, shows the docks damaged by Hurricane Irma at Virgin Gorda’s Yacht Club Costa Smeralda in the British Virgin Islands. Irma scraped Cuba’s northern coast Friday on a course toward Florida, leaving in its wake a ravaged string of Caribbean resort islands strewn with splintered lumber, corrugated metal and broken concrete. (Caribbean Buzz Helicopters via AP) (AP/Caribbean Buzz Helicopters)
This image made from video shows damage from Hurricane Irma in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Hurricane Irma weakened slightly Thursday with sustained winds of 175 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm boasted 185 mph winds for a more than 24-hour period, making it the strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm was expected to arrive in Cuba by Friday. It could hit the Florida mainland by late Saturday, according to hurricane center models. (AP Photo/Ian Brown)
This image made from video shows damage from Hurricane Irma in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Hurricane Irma weakened slightly Thursday with sustained winds of 175 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm boasted 185 mph winds for a more than 24-hour period, making it the strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm was expected to arrive in Cuba by Friday. It could hit the Florida mainland by late Saturday, according to hurricane center models. (AP Photo/Ian Brown) (AP/Ian Brown)
This image made from video shows flooding caused by Hurricane Irma on Charlotte Amalie, in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Hurricane Irma weakened slightly Thursday with sustained winds of 175 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm boasted 185 mph winds for a more than 24-hour period, making it the strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm was expected to arrive in Cuba by Friday. It could hit the Florida mainland by late Saturday, according to hurricane center models. (AP Photo/Ian Brown)
This image made from video shows flooding caused by Hurricane Irma on Charlotte Amalie, in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Hurricane Irma weakened slightly Thursday with sustained winds of 175 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm boasted 185 mph winds for a more than 24-hour period, making it the strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm was expected to arrive in Cuba by Friday. It could hit the Florida mainland by late Saturday, according to hurricane center models. (AP Photo/Ian Brown) (AP/Ian Brown)
In this image made from video shows a damage to a post office caused by Hurricane Irma in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Hurricane Irma weakened slightly Thursday with sustained winds of 175 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm boasted 185 mph winds for a more than 24-hour period, making it the strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm was expected to arrive in Cuba by Friday. It could hit the Florida mainland by late Saturday, according to hurricane center models. (AP Photo/Ian Brown)
In this image made from video shows a damage to a post office caused by Hurricane Irma in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Hurricane Irma weakened slightly Thursday with sustained winds of 175 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm boasted 185 mph winds for a more than 24-hour period, making it the strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm was expected to arrive in Cuba by Friday. It could hit the Florida mainland by late Saturday, according to hurricane center models. (AP Photo/Ian Brown) (AP/Ian Brown)
In this image made from video, motorists remove debris caused by Hurricane Irma from the road in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Hurricane Irma weakened slightly Thursday with sustained winds of 175 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm boasted 185 mph winds for a more than 24-hour period, making it the strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm was expected to arrive in Cuba by Friday. It could hit the Florida mainland by late Saturday, according to hurricane center models. (AP Photo/Ian Brown)
In this image made from video, motorists remove debris caused by Hurricane Irma from the road in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Hurricane Irma weakened slightly Thursday with sustained winds of 175 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm boasted 185 mph winds for a more than 24-hour period, making it the strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm was expected to arrive in Cuba by Friday. It could hit the Florida mainland by late Saturday, according to hurricane center models. (AP Photo/Ian Brown) (AP/Ian Brown)
This image made from video shows several damaged houses by Hurricane Irma in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Hurricane Irma weakened slightly Thursday with sustained winds of 175 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm boasted 185 mph winds for a more than 24-hour period, making it the strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm was expected to arrive in Cuba by Friday. It could hit the Florida mainland by late Saturday, according to hurricane center models. (AP Photo/Ian Brown)
This image made from video shows several damaged houses by Hurricane Irma in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Hurricane Irma weakened slightly Thursday with sustained winds of 175 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm boasted 185 mph winds for a more than 24-hour period, making it the strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm was expected to arrive in Cuba by Friday. It could hit the Florida mainland by late Saturday, according to hurricane center models. (AP Photo/Ian Brown) (AP/Ian Brown)
This Thursday, Sept. 8, 2017 photo shows storm damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands. Irma scraped Cuba's northern coast Friday on a course toward Florida, leaving in its wake a ravaged string of Caribbean resort islands strewn with splintered lumber, corrugated metal and broken concrete. (Jalon Manson Shortte via AP)
This Thursday, Sept. 8, 2017 photo shows storm damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands. Irma scraped Cuba’s northern coast Friday on a course toward Florida, leaving in its wake a ravaged string of Caribbean resort islands strewn with splintered lumber, corrugated metal and broken concrete. (Jalon Manson Shortte via AP) (AP/Jalon Manson Shortte)
In this Thursday, Sept. 8, 2017 photo, a resident ducks under a downed power line in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands. Irma scraped Cuba's northern coast Friday on a course toward Florida, leaving in its wake a ravaged string of Caribbean resort islands strewn with splintered lumber, corrugated metal and broken concrete. (Jalon Manson Shortte via AP)
In this Thursday, Sept. 8, 2017 photo, a resident ducks under a downed power line in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands. Irma scraped Cuba’s northern coast Friday on a course toward Florida, leaving in its wake a ravaged string of Caribbean resort islands strewn with splintered lumber, corrugated metal and broken concrete. (Jalon Manson Shortte via AP) (AP/Jalon Manson Shortte)
Members of Customs & Border Protection Caribbean survey damage from Hurricane Irma to the U.S. Virgin Islands. (Courtesy @CBPCaribbean)
Members of Customs & Border Protection Caribbean survey damage from Hurricane Irma to the U.S. Virgin Islands. (Courtesy @CBPCaribbean) (Courtesy @CBPCaribbean)
In this image made from video, neighbors clear debris from the road in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Hurricane Irma weakened slightly Thursday with sustained winds of 175 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm boasted 185 mph winds for a more than 24-hour period, making it the strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm was expected to arrive in Cuba by Friday. It could hit the Florida mainland by late Saturday, according to hurricane center models. (AP Photo/Ian Brown)
In this image made from video, neighbors clear debris from the road in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Hurricane Irma weakened slightly Thursday with sustained winds of 175 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm boasted 185 mph winds for a more than 24-hour period, making it the strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm was expected to arrive in Cuba by Friday. It could hit the Florida mainland by late Saturday, according to hurricane center models. (AP Photo/Ian Brown) (AP/Ian Brown)
FAJARDO, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 06: A street is flooded during the passing of Hurricane Irma on September 6, 2017 in Fajardo, Puerto Rico. The category 5 storm is expected to pass over Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands today, and make landfall in Florida by the weekend. (Photo by Jose Jimenez/Getty Images)
A street is flooded during the passing of Hurricane Irma on September 6, 2017 in Fajardo, Puerto Rico. (Photo by Jose Jimenez/Getty Images) (Getty Images/Jose Jimenez)
A man surveys the wreckage on his property after the passing of Hurricane Irma, in St. John's, Antigua and Barbuda, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017. Heavy rain and 185-mph winds lashed the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico's northeast coast as Irma, the strongest Atlantic Ocean hurricane ever measured, roared through Caribbean islands on its way to a possible hit on South Florida. (AP Photo/Johnny Jno-Baptiste)
A man surveys the wreckage on his property after the passing of Hurricane Irma, in St. John’s, Antigua and Barbuda, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017. Heavy rain and 185-mph winds lashed the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico’s northeast coast as Irma, the strongest Atlantic Ocean hurricane ever measured, roared through Caribbean islands on its way to a possible hit on South Florida. (AP Photo/Johnny Jno-Baptiste) (AP/Johnny Jno-Baptiste)
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More than a dozen of the 80 team members of Virginia Task Force 1 deployed to the Virgin Islands also responded to Hurricane Harvey operations in Texas. (Courtesy Fairfax County Fire and Rescue)
Virginia Task Force 1 members work with airmen from Robins Air Force Base in Georgia to finalize pallet loads of supplies for potential air transport to the Virgin Islands assignment. (Courtesy Fairfax County Fire Department)
Virginia Task Force 1 of Fairfax County, Virginia, is also stationed in Katy, Texas, (Courtesy Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service)
Virginia Task Force 1 of Fairfax County is working in the Kingwood, Texas, area Thursday. (Courtesy Fairfax County Fire and Rescue)
Virginia Task Force 1 of Fairfax County worked in the Kingwood, Texas, area Thursday. (Courtesy Fairfax County Fire and Rescue)
Members of Virginia Task Force 1 on Thursday prepare for a full day of operations in which people and pets were rescued. In some cases people were delivered back to flooded homes to retrieve medicine or important papers. (Courtesy Fairfax County Fire and Rescue)
This undated photo provided on Sunday Sept. 10, 2017 by the British Ministry of Defence, shows the destruction in Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands left by Hurricane Irma. The death toll from Hurricane Irma has risen to 22 as the storm continues its destructive path through the Caribbean. (Joel Rouse/MOD via AP)
This Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017 photo shows storm damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands. Irma scraped Cuba's northern coast Friday on a course toward Florida, leaving in its wake a ravaged string of Caribbean resort islands strewn with splintered lumber, corrugated metal and broken concrete. (Jalon Manson Shortte via AP)
CORRECTS DAY - This photo provided on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017 shows storm damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands. Irma scraped Cuba's northern coast Friday on a course toward Florida, leaving in its wake a ravaged string of Caribbean resort islands strewn with splintered lumber, corrugated metal and broken concrete. (Jalon Manson Shortte via AP)
CORRECTS DATE  - This Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017, a man walks past an uprooted tree sitting in the middle of a road in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands. Irma scraped Cuba's northern coast Friday on a course toward Florida, leaving in its wake a ravaged string of Caribbean resort islands strewn with splintered lumber, corrugated metal and broken concrete. (Jalon Manson Shortte via AP)
CORRECTS DAY - This photo provided on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017, shows storm damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Virgin Gorda's Gun Creek in the British Virgin Islands. Irma scraped Cuba's northern coast Friday on a course toward Florida, leaving in its wake a ravaged string of Caribbean resort islands strewn with splintered lumber, corrugated metal and broken concrete. (Caribbean Buzz Helicopters via AP)
This photo provided by Caribbean Buzz shows the destruction left in the wake of Hurricane Irma Friday, Sept. 8, 2017, in the U.S. Virgin Islands The death toll from Hurricane Irma has risen to 22 as the storm continues its destructive path through the Caribbean. The dead include 11 on St. Martin and St. Barts, four in the U.S. Virgin Islands and four in the British Virgin Islands. There was also one each in Barbuda, Anguilla, and Barbados. The toll is expected to rise as rescuers reach some of the hardest-hit areas. (Caribbean Buzz via AP)
This photo provided by Caribbean Buzz shows boats clustered together after Hurricane Irma Friday, Sept. 8, 2017. The death toll from Hurricane Irma has risen to 22 as the storm continues its destructive path through the Caribbean.
The dead include 11 on St. Martin and St. Barts, four in the U.S. Virgin Islands and four in the British Virgin Islands. There was also one each in Barbuda, Anguilla, and Barbados. The toll is expected to rise as rescuers reach some of the hardest-hit areas. (Caribbean Buzz via AP)
CORRECTS DAY - This Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017 photo shows storm damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands. Irma scraped Cuba's northern coast Friday on a course toward Florida, leaving in its wake a ravaged string of Caribbean resort islands strewn with splintered lumber, corrugated metal and broken concrete. (Jalon Manson Shortte via AP)
This photo provided on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017, shows storm damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in St. John's Caneel Bay in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Irma scraped Cuba's northern coast Friday on a course toward Florida, leaving in its wake a ravaged string of Caribbean resort islands strewn with splintered lumber, corrugated metal and broken concrete. (Caribbean Buzz Helicopters via AP)
CORRECTS DATE  - This Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017 photo shows boats washed ashore in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands. Irma scraped Cuba's northern coast Friday on a course toward Florida, leaving in its wake a ravaged string of Caribbean resort islands strewn with splintered lumber, corrugated metal and broken concrete. (Jalon Manson Shortte via AP)
CORRECTS DAY - This photo provided on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017, shows storm damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Virgin Gorda's Saba Rock in the British Virgin Islands. Irma scraped Cuba's northern coast Friday on a course toward Florida, leaving in its wake a ravaged string of Caribbean resort islands strewn with splintered lumber, corrugated metal and broken concrete. (Caribbean Buzz Helicopters via AP)
CORRECTS DAY - This photo provided on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017, shows the docks damaged by Hurricane Irma at Virgin Gorda's Yacht Club Costa Smeralda in the British Virgin Islands. Irma scraped Cuba's northern coast Friday on a course toward Florida, leaving in its wake a ravaged string of Caribbean resort islands strewn with splintered lumber, corrugated metal and broken concrete. (Caribbean Buzz Helicopters via AP)
This image made from video shows damage from Hurricane Irma in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Hurricane Irma weakened slightly Thursday with sustained winds of 175 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm boasted 185 mph winds for a more than 24-hour period, making it the strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm was expected to arrive in Cuba by Friday. It could hit the Florida mainland by late Saturday, according to hurricane center models. (AP Photo/Ian Brown)
This image made from video shows flooding caused by Hurricane Irma on Charlotte Amalie, in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Hurricane Irma weakened slightly Thursday with sustained winds of 175 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm boasted 185 mph winds for a more than 24-hour period, making it the strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm was expected to arrive in Cuba by Friday. It could hit the Florida mainland by late Saturday, according to hurricane center models. (AP Photo/Ian Brown)
In this image made from video shows a damage to a post office caused by Hurricane Irma in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Hurricane Irma weakened slightly Thursday with sustained winds of 175 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm boasted 185 mph winds for a more than 24-hour period, making it the strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm was expected to arrive in Cuba by Friday. It could hit the Florida mainland by late Saturday, according to hurricane center models. (AP Photo/Ian Brown)
In this image made from video, motorists remove debris caused by Hurricane Irma from the road in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Hurricane Irma weakened slightly Thursday with sustained winds of 175 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm boasted 185 mph winds for a more than 24-hour period, making it the strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm was expected to arrive in Cuba by Friday. It could hit the Florida mainland by late Saturday, according to hurricane center models. (AP Photo/Ian Brown)
This image made from video shows several damaged houses by Hurricane Irma in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Hurricane Irma weakened slightly Thursday with sustained winds of 175 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm boasted 185 mph winds for a more than 24-hour period, making it the strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm was expected to arrive in Cuba by Friday. It could hit the Florida mainland by late Saturday, according to hurricane center models. (AP Photo/Ian Brown)
This Thursday, Sept. 8, 2017 photo shows storm damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands. Irma scraped Cuba's northern coast Friday on a course toward Florida, leaving in its wake a ravaged string of Caribbean resort islands strewn with splintered lumber, corrugated metal and broken concrete. (Jalon Manson Shortte via AP)
In this Thursday, Sept. 8, 2017 photo, a resident ducks under a downed power line in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands. Irma scraped Cuba's northern coast Friday on a course toward Florida, leaving in its wake a ravaged string of Caribbean resort islands strewn with splintered lumber, corrugated metal and broken concrete. (Jalon Manson Shortte via AP)
Members of Customs & Border Protection Caribbean survey damage from Hurricane Irma to the U.S. Virgin Islands. (Courtesy @CBPCaribbean)
In this image made from video, neighbors clear debris from the road in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Hurricane Irma weakened slightly Thursday with sustained winds of 175 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm boasted 185 mph winds for a more than 24-hour period, making it the strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm was expected to arrive in Cuba by Friday. It could hit the Florida mainland by late Saturday, according to hurricane center models. (AP Photo/Ian Brown)
FAJARDO, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 06: A street is flooded during the passing of Hurricane Irma on September 6, 2017 in Fajardo, Puerto Rico. The category 5 storm is expected to pass over Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands today, and make landfall in Florida by the weekend. (Photo by Jose Jimenez/Getty Images)
A man surveys the wreckage on his property after the passing of Hurricane Irma, in St. John's, Antigua and Barbuda, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017. Heavy rain and 185-mph winds lashed the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico's northeast coast as Irma, the strongest Atlantic Ocean hurricane ever measured, roared through Caribbean islands on its way to a possible hit on South Florida. (AP Photo/Johnny Jno-Baptiste)

WASHINGTON — Roughly 70 members of Virginia Task Force 1 are waiting to gain entry to the Virgin Islands, which were ravaged by Hurricane Irma.

Once they arrive, many of them will find themselves immersed in some of the worst situations the world can throw at someone.

For the firefighters and EMTs who comprise a majority of the team, being up close to death and destruction is, sadly, part of the job. But it’s not always an easy part.

For the engineers and structural specialists also on the team, those situations don’t come across their desks at work very often, and that’s something that gets taken into account.

“It’s built into our orientation program,” said Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Assistant Fire Chief Chuck Ryan. “Preparing our members and their family and loved ones for the eventuality they may see [something gruesome] as a member of Virginia Task Force 1 … We do a good job of preparing them on the front end and back end.”

Ryan said medical and mental evaluations are a routine part of the mission.

“We have a strong behavioral health support team here at home base that is ready when the team comes back,” Ryan said.

Ryan added they provide “initial diffusing and then ongoing assistance if needed, should those needs arise.”

Task Force Members are monitored as they head out to a scene and upon their return, both medically and mentally.

Ryan said that in addition to blood pressure and pulse checks, “part of that is a quick assessment of ‘Hey, how are you doing?’”

After witnessing something particularly traumatic, Ryan says the team talks about those difficult events among themselves and with peer counselors.

Ryan said some of the questions they ask one another include whether they are struggling mentally and if they are having difficulty sleeping.

“We can provide additional support and resources if somebody puts their hand up and says ‘Yeah, I’m struggling a little bit.’ And we have had that in the wake of some of our lengthier international missions.”

Ultimately, Ryan says a lot of effort is put in to recognizing that those who get sent to some of the world’s biggest disaster zones are still human.


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