Winters Public Safety agencies are reaching out to the community in search of volunteers for their trauma and grief assistance program.
According to the Winters Police Department website, Winters PD officers “routinely respond to emergency or crisis situations where community members may be afflicted with grief and/or other trauma.
“During critical periods when the first responders are attending to the emergency or crisis, community members can often be left without necessary trauma and grief support” a need that was filled in 2021 by the Winters Public Safety Trauma and Grief Support (TAGS).
Winters PD Sgt. Jose Hermosillo expounded on the work done by TAGS volunteers, explaining that TAGS “is made of volunteers who work in conjunction with the Police and Fire Departments to assist community members who are experiencing grief and/or trauma.”
“This program is utilized by first responders to assist with death notifications, stand by with family members while the coroner is contacted, and highly traumatic cases where victims need extra support,” Hermosillo said.
The Winters PD website describes a TAGS volunteer’s duties, including both “assist(ing) on-scene community members who are experiencing grief and/or trauma” as well as being “accessible to Winters Police and Fire Department personnel” to assist with their “ constant stresses associated with critical incidents and first responder duties (that) can negatively impact public safety personnel.”
Beyond these more harrowing incidents, Hermosillo said that TAGS volunteers provide other services, including “assistance to Winters first responders whenever they need an extra hand with a high-priority call or incident” and “can also help with community events, parades, and other volunteer opportunities.”
TAGS volunteers receive training in psychological first-aid, critical incident stress, mandatory reporting, dealing with grief, maintaining scene integrity, privacy and ethics. Volunteers will be provided with shirts, jackets and personal protective equipment, but they will need to utilize their personal vehicles for transportation.
Chaplain Robert Duvall and K-9 Kepi officially retired from the Winters Public Safety Crisis Intervention Team on May 31, 2021. Duvall and Kepi provided support to fire and law enforcement personnel and community members in Solano and Yolo counties. Together, they logged in over 12,000 hours providing critical incident support, debriefs and death notifications.
Following their retirement, a void was left, and to fill it Winters PD launched a program the Davis Police Department had seen success in since 2017. The Davis PD TAGS program was developed by Catherine Bernstein. Although Bernstein is a chaplain, she said she built TAGS to be a secular program based on different models to assist police, fire and coroners.
Bernstein worked with Winters PD to develop and train volunteers in Winters.
The TAGS program is currently accepting applications for volunteers. For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our web page at https://www.winterspolice.org/volunteer-services/