Crisis counselor among survivors of San Bernardino shooting

Last Updated Dec 20, 2015 7:16 PM EST

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. -- A woman who has spent her life counseling survivors of tragedy, became a survivor herself in San Bernardino.

Angelika Robinson has helped others in their worst moments, like after the Columbine shooting.

"There is something that is so profoundly important about being with someone in the most horrific time of their life," Robinson said.

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Angelika Robinson.
CBS News

But on a routine morning at the Inland Regional Center, Robinson found herself at the center of tragedy.

"I had just finished my first assessment for the day. I heard gunshots. Several people yelled 'they're shooting at everybody. I saw the reaction on people's faces, and the horror," Robinson recalled.

Robinson said she immediately tried to calm others, especially when SWAT officers burst in.

"Their weapons are pointed away from us, and that means that they're the good guys and they're protecting us," Robinson said.

But when they were brought outside, and saw the dead and wounded, Robinson said "It was horrifying. It was absolutely horrifying."

Robinson convinced herself she was fine, until she wasn't.

"I think my entire family noticed a change in me," she said. "I was panicked and I was jumpy. And I was irritable."

But the crisis counselor couldn't diagnose herself.

"I had to hear that from someone else, for me to be able to accept that I was traumatized," Robinson said. "Just because we don't have the physical wound -- we all got injured."

That led to an unexpected emotion.

"I should be grateful, but there is a hefty dose of survivor's guilt. That I didn't get hurt. And there is so much pain," she said. "That sense of helplessness. I want to do more, I want to reach out more, and I can't do more."

Robinson said the toughest time will come when San Bernardino fades from the headlines.

"You're expected to go back to your normal, everyday life when the reality is that for so many people, the return to everyday life is very, very far away," Robinson said. "So to see the rest of the world move on is another kind of an injury."

One that Robinson said will only heal with time.

  • Mireya Villarreal

    Mireya Villarreal is a CBS News correspondent.