Victim Relief was one of the forerunners of providing quick-response emotional support and counseling along with physical care at disasters sites. Soon after establishing Victim Relief, our volunteers were called to New York after the 9/11 attack in 2001. Participating in that disaster relief effort fine-tuned our plan of operations and finalized many of the operating policies and procedures still in use today.
As a result, Victim Relief is an active member of national, state, and local VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters) organizations providing trained volunteers always ready to respond. In addition to extensive training in situation analysis and evaluation, emotional comfort, psychological first aid, and grief and loss therapy, our volunteers are trained in disaster-specific policies and procedures of organizations working through a governmental agency such as Homeland Security. These include:
- Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM)
- FEMA ICS classes.
From hurricanes to tornadoes, mass shootings, acts of terrorism, wildfires and floods, VRM has responded to all types of disasters working with Government Officials to help the people affected by these disasters
In addition to providing and distributing water, food, clothing, and blankets, some Victim Relief Volunteers are trained to counsel victims who have suffered trauma, grief, and loss because of these critical incidents. As a service to our communities, we strive to build close relationships with local law enforcement and rescue teams as counselors and evaluators in addition to distributors of supplies to meet physical needs. Our services are provided to not only the disaster victims, but also those first responders who have become victims or suffered emotional distress due to witnessing the extensive trauma.
We look to partner with these local first responders as a continuing resource to them to help citizens they serve answer the question “Who’s there when the police and paramedics leave to go back to their regular duties?” We also work with local Hospitals and Hospital Trauma Centers to provide on-going help in serving their patients and staff who need the emotional care after the primary disaster event has ended.
Victim Relief can deliver the following services, many of which are not provided by other first responders:
- Provide counselors and advisors for shelters and other places where those affected by disaster gather.
- Provide chaplains, when requested, from our partner, Victim Care Association.
- Go door to door to check on people in affected areas, providing blankets, water, food, and clothing and emotional first aid in the form of initial grief and loss therapy.
- Accompany residents when reentry into affected areas is allowed, assessing the individual needs and providing physical materials and emotional support.
- Embed with relief and recovery teams as they work to provide counseling and emotional assistance to the victims encountered as well as for other first responders who are adversely affected by the devastation.
- Debrief groups and individuals as needed, and provide reports to the management coordinators in charge to assist in identifying and clarifying victim needs.
Victim Relief specializes in these specific following support services to victims:
- Assist victims in establishing security and safety
- Provide repair and clean up to damaged areas
- Provide emergency transportation and vehicle repairs
- Provide accompaniment to hospitals, courts and other agencies
- Provide emergency food, furniture and clothing
- Provide emergency financial aid
- Provide bilingual language assistance
- Assist in contacting other victim service agencies
- Provide comforting and grief counseling
- Provide spiritual care by Victim Care Chaplains, if requested
- Connect victim with a local church or pastor, if requested
- Maintain contact with the victim to monitor recovery
At Victim Relief, our focus is on the victim. Our services start and end with the victim, whether that person is a victim of disaster, crime, accident, illness, or abuse. These services are generally short-term in nature to assist the victim with early response to their traumatic event, ranging from a couple of hours to perhaps several days.
The services we offer to help victims vary from chapter to chapter and may include, but not necessarily limited to the following:
- Trauma and Crisis intervention
- Financial assistance
- Temporary lodging
- Referrals for longer-term assistance
- Support Groups