Helping Trauma Victims for Free

By  | 

RENO, NV - When a traumatic event strikes, there is a crucial deadline.

Emergency responders in Washoe County say counseling a victim within one hour is key to his or her mental well-being.

A local non-profit called "TIP" is actively giving trauma assistance in northern Nevada

"We most often respond to the daily disasters that folks don't even know happen, the natural deaths, suicides, overdoses, drowning, infant deaths," said Gabrielle Totton, TIP Executive Director.

TIP is made up entirely of volunteers who can respond at a moment's notice to a traumatic event.

"Everybody responds to death certainly," said Totton. "Having that initial response from somebody like a TIP volunteer kinda allows these folks to get headed in the right direction much sooner and helping the victim be informed."

"A lot of people think the medical examiner will take their loved one with them. that is not the case. That is not the case; it will always be the mortuary that comes," said Totton.

The Washoe County Chapter of TIP is run from a desk in a plumbing supply warehouse; what it lacks in decor, the organization makes up in service, according to local law enforcement.

"Those TIP volunteers, when they are there on scene with us they make it so much easier," said Lt. Tom Green, Washoe County Sheriff's Office. "Otherwise law enforcement is left to try and deliver bad news and console families, answer questions and then it is time for the next call. we don't have the time to stay."

TIP runs on a budget of $75,000 a year to staff roughly 30 volunteers, staff that most law enforcement agencies could not afford on their own.

"When you do the math it ends up being $3 million a year in costs just in the hourly rate if you were to employ this many volunteers," said Totton

Totton did not start the local chapter of TIP for glory or fame. After her mother passed from cancer she felt no one should have to go through a rough time alone.

"There is definitely a deep level of personal gratification being able to see these folks take the next step and of course the incredible privilege of being there with them in northern Nevada," said Totton.

Since 2009 TIP has responded to more than 2,500 cases in Washoe County.