For 21 years, the Fox Cities Victim Crisis Response Team has connected victims of traumatic events to volunteers that are ready to help.
Volunteers with the organization undergo a lengthy application and training process, including various interviews, classroom learning, and mentorships.
Those who make it through training are on call 24/7, 365 days a year.
Officers from 13 different police agencies can request dispatch to call on the volunteers. Those volunteers then receive a notification on their smartphone that help is needed, and can then let dispatch know that they are able to respond.
“You go in there not knowing what the crisis is going to be exactly, we’re there to comfort the victim of whatever crisis it may be,” said Len Hansen, a 4-year veteran of the team.
The team’s volunteers vary in age and background, but Executive Director Jan Saunders says they all have one thing in common.
“We really don’t look for anything in particular except for empathy.” she told Local 5. “The ability to empathize where you are and the ability to handle some of the very stressful calls we go on.”
Those calls include domestic violence, physical abuse, sexual abuse, suicides, and sudden death, among others.
Stress aside, Dawn, a volunteer with six months of experience under her belt told Local 5 why working with the team is worth it.
“When you walk on a scene and you deal with someone who is so traumatized by the situation that they can barely stand, they’re just so overwhelmed with grief in certain situations, and you spend that time with them, empowering them to make decisions and get through that trauma. When you’re leaving and you see the change in them during that time period, and the big hug that they give you at the end, you know that you made a big difference in their lives,” they said.
Click here for an application to join the Victim Crisis Response Team.