Trauma Intervention Program: Citizens Helping Citizens in Crisis

August 23, 2016

In this episode, host Kristi Hugstad interviews two integral staff members of TIP (Trauma Intervention Program) Orange County: Community Relations Manager Erin Gardner and Crisis Team Manager Mindy Daffron.

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2:00 – Erin explains the mission of TIP, which is to provide citizens help in times of trauma. TIP’s volunteers are citizens who provide "emotional first aid" while the first responders provide life-saving first-aid.

3:20 – How TIP receives a call in the first place: first responders assess the needs of the survivors and call their dispatch, who in turn call the TIP dispatch.

4:00 – Mindy discusses her role as a Crisis Team Manager.

5:08 – Erin and Mindy explain the level of commitment a volunteer makes to TIP. Volunteers work three shifts per month (12 hours per shift). A volunteer chooses his dates based on his availability, and may choose between a day shift or a night shift. Volunteers may not get called on every shift but the readiness time adds up. The ladies explain the differences in day and night shifts, and how TIP is able to offer 100% coverage (they have never missed a call). "No call is too small," Erin says. Suffering and grief take many forms, and TIP would rather be present than not.

7:42 – TIP covers all of Orange County. They are divided into two areas (north and south), and they pride themselves on being there within 20 minutes. The organization is run in an almost military-style even though they are managed almost entirely by volunteers.

10:05 – Kristi asks, how does TIP find volunteers? What kind of person is attracted to this kind of work?

11:25 – TIP OC has 100 volunteers and was established in 1995, and TIP nationally was founded in San Diego in 1985. There are 16 TIP affiliates.

12:40 – The ladies go into detail about TIP training — including number of training hours, teaching volunteers to reframe the way they provide support to someone, etc. (Asking “how are you” is not something you want to ask to someone who’s stricken with grief or shock. It can indirectly offend someone. Instead, ask “can you tell me what happened.”)

19:08 – TIP also offers a training program for teen volunteers.

23:12 – The ladies discuss the origin of TIP thanks to founder Wayne Fortin

25:24 – Kristi asks what care is offered to volunteers and learns that there is indeed a safety net. Volunteers must talk to their dispatcher after a call, and then a call is scheduled with a debriefer a few days later. Volunteers may also volunteer to be dispatchers and debriefers.

29:00 – Volunteers are always on call with another volunteer. There might be more volunteers depending on the size of the call, but at the very least there is always one pair of volunteers per call so that they may offer more help to more people. They are even trained on mass casualties.

31:28 – The protocol for follow-up calls is one call because the survivors need to rely on their own support system and community.

32:00 – Erin and Mindy give examples of calls they’ve experienced, and explain the "art of hanging around."

37:37 – Kristi asks how a call begins when a volunteers shows up at the scene.

40:15 – The amount of suicide that TIP volunteers encounter is staggering.

40:55 – The ladies explain what a hospital situation is like for a TIP volunteer. They often arrive before family members have even arrived.

42:00 – More details are provided on the next training for both adult and teen volunteers.

46:46 – Sound engineer Paul Robert asks, What is the most important tip for an ordinary citizen who happens to be at the scene of a traumatic event? The ladies respond that "just being there is 90% of what we do." There is no magic – there’s nothing to say to fix it, so just being there is enough.

49:25 – What has grief taught Erin and Mindy? Erin says grief has taught her patience and understanding. Mindy says that she has learned that you have to experience pain in order to heal. People try to stop that pain with different things but you can’t heal unless you go through that.

To learn more about TIP or to make a donation, visit tiporangecounty.org or call 714-314-0744.

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