NAMI Guide: Preparing for the Unimaginable

In May 2016, NAMI released a guide for police leaders, Preparing for the Unimaginable, to prepare for mass casualty events and to support emotional resiliency for first-response personnel as well as their communities.

The guide was developed at the request of the U.S. Department of Justice and Chief of Michael Kehoe (ret.) of the Newtown, Connecticut police department during the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy in 2012. Chief Kehoe states in its first pages that the guide:

…will provide chiefs and sheriffs with awareness and guidance on best practices for safeguarding mental health and wellness of first responders in the early moments of critical events and during the long aftermath.

Download the guide at

Despite recent unfortunate events, police officials and mental health professionals involved in developing the guide agree that mass casualty events are unlikely in any specific community. But preparation is essential in case the unimaginable ever does occur.

The guide has three sections and eight chapters:

Why Mental Wellness Matters

  • Understanding Trauma and Resiliency

Preparing for a Mass Casualty Event

  • Recommendations for Enhancing Resilience
  • Planning the Incident Response for a Mass Casualty Event
  • Building Your Media Team and Strategy for a Mass Casualty Event

Managing a Mass Casualty Event and its Aftermath 

  • Immediate Incident Response
  • The First Weeks: From Chaos to New Normal
  • The First Months
  • The Long Haul


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