2018-01-19 / In the Know

TIP volunteers ‘really shine’ after trauma

By B. Michael Thurlow Special to the Leader

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 2004 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 such as a serious car accident, injury or cardiac arrest, the persons involved often feel helpless, confused and are 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, seven days a week and provide emotional first aid until victims 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 assets 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.” wrote Leslie Skillin, TIP program manager.

The program has been helping people in the Greater Portland area for 12 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, 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 a family’s spiritual support person if requested.

On Thursday, Jan. 25 the newest group of prospective volunteers will begin the first of eight classes spread out over a 10 day period. The training will teach a person with no previous training the skills needed to support a fellow citizen in crisis, as well as provide them with a variety of resource materials to help others in need.

“If someone has the desire to do this very meaningful work, then we want to make it happen for them,” said Skillin.

She encourages people interested in learning more about TIP to email skilll@mainebehavioralhealthcare.org; call her at 207-661-6478; or visit their Facebook page, Trauma Intervention Program of Portland Maine, for more information.

“TIP volunteers are people that really do care and want to help victims, families, the police, fire and emergency medical staff, so that everyone feels supported when unexpected and tragic things happen,” said Skillin.

If this unique volunteer opportunity appeals to you, then please consider calling or emailing Skillin today.

If you have any questions about this article or any fire department issue please don’t hesitate to contact me at mthurl@ci.scarborough.me.us or 730-4201.

B. Michael Thurlow is fire chief for Scarborough.

Return to top