For a number of years now, the Scarborough Police and Fire Departments have been working with an outstanding group called the Trauma Intervention Program or TIP. TIP is a national volunteer program that was founded in 1985. The local chapter was established in Portland in 2005, and Scarborough joined them a few years later.

TIP works in collaboration with, and at the request of Scarborough and several other Greater Portland area first responder agencies, as well as Maine Medical Center, to provide emotional support services to victims and families during the immediate aftermath of a traumatic event.

Following a traumatic event like a serious car accident, traumatic injury, or cardiac arrest, the persons involved often feel helpless, confused, and in emotional shock. During these times of high stress they are suddenly confronted with a situation for which they are totally unprepared. That’s where TIP volunteers really shine. Their volunteers are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and provide emotional first aid until survivors are able to depend on family, friends, or neighbors for comfort and support. TIP is a program of Maine Behavioral Healthcare and there is no cost to those who are served.

Once an emergency incident is resolved or stable, our police officers or fire and EMS personnel often need to conduct an investigation or respond to other emergencies. The TIP volunteers have been a tremendous asset because they are well trained and can spend the additional time required assisting trauma victims either at the scene or at the hospital. Over the years we have been involved in this program, we have had the opportunity to request the assistance of TIP volunteers dozens of times. They are always well trained, very supportive, and we received glowing feedback from the family members who have benefited from their services.

“TIP volunteers come from all different walks of life, attorneys, homemakers, retired professionals, full time workers, business owners as well as nurses and teachers.” writes Leslie Skillin, TIP national recruitment and training coordinator. The program has been helping people in the Greater Portland area for going on 14 years, and is in need of more volunteers to make sure people have someone they can lean on in their darkest hours. It could be a mother whose child was just injured in an auto accident, or an elderly woman whose husband of 50 years died in his sleep, or sitting with a man whose home just burned down from a woodstove fire. TIP is there whenever a first responder recognizes that a traumatic event has occurred and a person or group of people is in need of emotional support. The services of TIP volunteers are always voluntary and they never push any particular religious affiliation, although they can certainly assist in contacting the families spiritual support person if requested.

On Thursday Oct. 22, the newest group of prospective volunteers will begin the first of eight classes spread out over a 10-day period. All CDC guidelines for COVID-19 will be followed during training, as well as in the approach of responding to crisis events. The training will teach a person with no previous training the skills needed to support a person in crisis, as well as provide them with a variety of resource materials for additional assistance. TIP National Recruitment and Training Coordinator Leslie Skillin encourages people interested in learning more to email Mandy Atkission, TIP National CEO at: [email protected]; call her at 207-619-1175; or visit the Facebook page, Trauma Intervention Program of Portland Maine or the website:www.tipgreaterportland.org for more information.

“TIP volunteers are people that really do care and want to provide survivors, families, the police, fire and emergency medical staff, the support needed when unexpected and tragic things happen,” said Skillin. If this uniquely challenging volunteer opportunity appeals to you, then please consider calling or emailing Mandy today.

If you have any questions about this article or any fire department issue please don’t hesitate to contact me at [email protected] or 730-4201.

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