Strathcona County is leading the way in trauma response in communities.
The first of its kind in North America, the Violence, Injury and Suicide Prevention Protocol (VTSP) outlines the steps the county, RCMP, schools and many others should take during a community event involving violence, trauma or suicide. The idea behind the protocol is for all of these different groups to work together, share information, properly assess community impact, and respond in the best way to support residents.
“Every resident deserves to feel safe and well. By signing the protocol, we can work with our partners on new ways to create this stronger, safer community,” said County Mayor Rod Frank.
The VTSP protocol takes into account the ripple effect that trauma tends to have, affecting not only those directly affected, but also those in the wider community who may be linked to or react strongly to these incidents.
With different community groups having different information or expertise about certain people’s traumas and histories, the protocol will help these groups work together to proactively seek out the warning signs of these events and intervene in potentially dangerous situations.
“There are always signs and symptoms when someone is suffering from trauma in any form. Unfortunately, as police we deal with it once there is a crisis. So the purpose of this protocol is really for all the supporting organizations to come together and help this person before we have to get to this crisis stage.If it reduces these calls to the police then that is what it is about. is,” said RCMP Superintendent Dale Kendall.
On Wednesday (March 16), representatives from Strathcona County, the RCMP, the two local school divisions, Alberta Health Services, Alberta Children’s Services and 10 other organizations signed the protocol.
The VTSP protocol has been in preparation for two years. According to Bree Claude, Director of Family and Community Support Services, working during a pandemic and trying to make the program work with privacy legislation were the hardest parts.
She said it is a testament to the passion and hard work of those involved that the protocol is now able to launch.
“There is never a silver bullet or an easy answer, but the journey is always together and we really learned that together.”