Local authorities responded to an active shooter situation on Wednesday afternoon at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Sen. Bill Nelson told MSNBC that Broward County authorities said the shooting led to "a number of fatalities." As the situation continues to develop, here is what you can do to help victims of the Parkland, Florida shooting.
Warning: This article contains information about gun violence, which some may find triggering.
At this moment, you can help victims of the terrible high school shooting by donating blood. Authorities may request that certain donors come forward, depending on the type of blood needed, in order to help any wounded students or faculty members. If you're in the Parkland, Florida area, do a quick and thorough search for blood banks and clinics there. Given the unfolding news out of that city, centers there are most likely seeking blood donors who can help save a life.
If you're not in Parkland, you don't have to worry: you can donate blood from wherever you presently are. Simply go to the Red Cross' website, click on "Donating Blood," type your zip code in the relevant field, and you'll be directed to a center near you — and could save an injured person's life.
The next and equally important thing you can do to help victims of the Florida high school shooting is focus on not spreading misinformation. After the Las Vegas shooting that killed over 50 people in October, false reports were littering social media. When there is something so tragic and terrifying like this Parkland shooting, it is tempting to spread "information" and "updates" through unverified sources.
The damage caused by such inauthentic information can hurt someone's life, mislead viewers, but most revealingly, it reflects poorly on the person sharing the misinformation. It shows disrespect to the victims who deserve not to become fodder for inaccurate posts. If you do want to inform other social media users, share information from law enforcement agencies and verified sources from the relevant county officials. Ask others to do the same.
In exceptionally grim situations like that of the Wednesday shooting, some victims desperately seek counseling. You can guide them to certified individuals and centers that can absolutely help with handling a barrage of emotions. Students especially may want counseling in the wake of the Parkland high school shooting, so you can refer counseling services in the area. By doing so, you could help a victim process suffocating feelings of anxiety, grief, confusion, anger, and more.
If you want to help through money, you can donate to the American Red Cross. The amount can be of your own choice and you can select the option for "urgent humanitarian needs" that you'd like to support. It is also likely personal requests for donations from survivors will surface. Vet them to see if they're actually from the victim. It's possible that GoFundMe pages will rise as people crowdfund for survivors. Your donation can help someone cover their medical bills.
If you feel strongly about gun laws and their effects on American lives, you can write to your Congressional representatives and have your views heard on common sense gun laws. It doesn't have to be a long and belabored letter. Use simple, brief, and to-the-point humane language to appeal to your representative for better gun laws.
Above all, be there for the survivors. Students who have gone through such a tremendously stressful incident may want a shoulder to lean on or, the opposite, they may want some space to process their feelings. Respect their emotions, give them time to understand what happened, and be there when they need you.