Program looking for volunteers to help trauma survivors

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The sounds of sirens and flash of police lights are usually signs of tragedy and when law enforcement leaves the scene family and friends are left to deal with the traumatic aftermath.

"Some of these individuals need assistance to help them through the next minute, maybe the next hour, maybe the next day," said EBR Coroner Dr. Beau Clark.

Noticing the gap in care for those left behind, the East Baton Rouge Coroner's Office teamed up with the Baton Rouge Crisis Intervention Center. The goal is simple: to provide emotional first aid to those people facing the sudden and often tragic death of a loved one.

"There's always a ripple effect," said David Lee, a volunteer. "You'll find that some people who have gone through a traumatic loss feel like they don't deserve to live. They start thinking about taking their life and anger sets in and they want to hurt somebody else."

The Crisis Center primarily deals with suicide prevention through their 24-hour crisis hotline, The Phone. They also offer counseling and support groups for survivors of suicide and traumatic loss.

In March, the center expanded with the Traumatic Loss Outreach program. Volunteers are trained to handle emotional crisis and are educated about the resources available in the metro area for survivors. Volunteers sign up for shifts in their spare time. When outreach is needed the volunteer on duty is alerted by the coroner's office. The program has already been called out around 20 times.

"The quicker people get emotional help, the more likely they are to be able to function in a healthy way and cope in a healthy way preventing them from having destructive thoughts and behaviors," said Program Manager Becky Young.

The program is still looking for volunteers and the requirements are simple.

"You simply need to care enough to want to give back to our community," said Clark.

No medical background or therapy skills are required to be a volunteer. The Center provides all the needed training through an 18-hour course offered a few times a year. Volunteers have to be at least 21 years old and go through an application and screening process.

On Thursday, May 22, the center will hold an informational meeting at the EBR Main Library located at 7711 Goodwood Blvd. at 6 PM.

For more information, click here.

For crisis help, the Phone can be reached through (225) 924-3900.

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