Trauma intervention volunteers needed

The Trauma Intervention Program is looking for new volunteers, especially from the Sweet Home area, which only has one right now.

TIP has training scheduled for January for those who are interested in helping people affected by traumatic incidents, from car crashes to house fires and suicide.

Lynn Koehn, chaplain for Lebanon Police Department, started the Linn County chapter of the program in January 2001, said Pat Blackburn, crisis team manager.

Volunteers go through intensive training and learn how to assist people going through emotional trauma, Blackburn said. Once volunteers go to work, they’ll do everything from feeding the dog and checking the mail to providing a listening ear for victims.

“We provide emotional first aid and practical support,” she said, and they start doing it in the first couple of hours after a traumatic event.

That’s the worst time for people, she said. “We’re there to help so the emergency responders can continue doing their jobs knowing their clients are being cared for.”

“They’re invaluable to us,” said Sweet Home Fire Chief Mike Beaver. Since TIP was formed, firefighters and medics have been able to have TIP work with distraught families.

“They’ve just become a great resource for us,” Beaver said. “They allow us to continue to work on an emergency.”

Although the frequency of use varies, Sweet Home Fire and Ambulance District uses the service continually, Beaver said. “We use them just about every time there’s a fatality.”

SHFAD also uses TIP on cardiac arrest calls, traumatic deaths and structure fires with legitimate losses.

Sometimes, TIP is just there to listen, he said. They will serve as resource too, providing contact with clergy and the Red Cross. TIP can get that work done before emergency workers can get to it.

TIP volunteers also will serve as a liaison with doctors, nurses and hospitals and families.

Generally, by the time TIP volunteers are called, the victim is already on the way to the hospital, Blackburn said.

The victim isn’t necessarily the one whom TIP is helping, she said. Witnesses and family members may need assistance too.

For example, TIP helped a witness to a 2-year-old child who was run over.

‘They’re going through a trauma themselves,” she said, and a TIP volunteer may just let them give voice to their feelings.

“When you’re in a state of shock, you just need to tell your side of the story.”

The program is a commitment, Blackburn said.

It includes several days of training, and volunteers must pass a background check.

But, this is an excellent way of helping out for people looking for a way to get involved in their community, Blackburn said. “It’s a way to feel like you made a difference in someone’s life.”

Orientation for TIP volunteers begins at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 28 at Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital in the health career training center. To volunteer, visit and click on the training link. For more information, contact Blackburn at 570-9109.