“That day I had a guardian angel”: Northern Nevada Trauma Intervention Program seeks volunteers
RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - April 25, 2021 started as a normal Sunday for the Millettes.
“Renee and I were hanging a picture we had just remodeled on the main floor of the house,” said Eric Millette. “That’s when we heard what we did, ran downstairs and that’s when we saw that Brandon had taken his own life.”
Brandon was the youngest of three and only 14 years old at the time of his death.
“Our jokester always had a funny story to tell, always had a goofy dance, always cared for others,” said Renee Millette, Brandon’s mother. “Anything that a friend needed or was hurting, he was there.”
Despite their years as a firefighter and a nurse, that moment was something they could have never prepared for.
“When tragedy occurs in people’s lives, that is their 9/11, that is the worst day of their lives,” said Gabrielle Totton, executive director of Trauma Intervention Programs or TIP. “That’s as bad as it’s ever going to be, and they deserve to have somebody present with them.”
For the Millettes that person was Totton.
Simply put, TIP is a group of well-trained citizens emotionally supporting fellow citizens in a time of crisis.
“Reno Police Department arrives on scene... if they’re not able to save the person, they would call and say ‘Hey send us a volunteer, we have family on the scene who need some additional support’,” said Totton.
“What that looks like is really just being there with people,” said TIP volunteer Clarissa Roman. “Handing someone their tissue, reminding them to take their medication. Providing the support that we don’t know we’re going to need until you’re in that moment.”
Roman has been a volunteer at TIP for six years now. She says the people is what keeps her going.
“I have left every single call thinking to myself, ‘What an incredible honor it was to be with these individuals on the worst days of their lives’,” said Roman.
TIP currently has 28 volunteers and is looking to have 40. To become one, applicants have to complete 36 hours of in-class training before completing three months of field training. You also need a clean driving record, no criminal background, a reliable vehicle and access to a computer.
However, the biggest requirement is heart.
“That day I had a guardian angel, come to my house and love me and care for my heart. I didn’t have to think about anything. I felt like I didn’t even walk that day. I felt like someone just carried me around the whole house and that was Gabi and her TIP program,” said Renee Millette.
The Millettes are grateful for the support shown by the community and are now trying to move forward, taking it one day at a time.
TIP will have a round of training starting Thursday at Regional Public Safety Training Center on Spectrum Boulevard. The training is at 6:00 p.m. and you can pre-register here or go early.
If you can’t make it tomorrow, call (775) 337-2112 to see when the next training will be.
If you would like to advocate for suicide prevention, check Forever 14, which was formed by a grieving family and a group of dedicated community members to advance conversation and human connection to prevent teen suicide.
If you need support, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or text CARE to 839863.
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