This article originally appeared on nbc12.com
The Richmond Ambulance Authority (RAA) and Childsavers, a nonprofit that provides mental health services and childcare resources, have partnered to help children exposed to trauma.
Through the partnership, RAA first responders will use Childsavers’ 24/7 hotline to alert the organization’s traumatic response unit. This will allow a specialist from Childsavers to respond to the scene and provide support.
“They can send someone to the scene, like a crisis response team, and they will counsel and talk to the children and help them through the traumatic event they’ve lived through or witnessed,” said Lieutenant Oscar Escobar with Richmond Ambulance Authority.
LaDesha Batten, the immediate response program supervisor for Childsavers, said their response to these scenes would differ depending on the situation.
“Typically, we bring a ‘Feel Better Bag,’ and it’s a drawstring bag, and it just has different toys and activities in the bag that we utilize with kids to talk about coping skills,” said Batten.
In addition, Batten said a team member would also discuss the resources available to help children through the rest of their healing process.
“Educate the families on trauma and its symptoms and what it could look like after it happens,” she said. “I feel like it allows us to kind of serve in the role as a second responder.”
Through this effort, Batten believes this support will make a difference.
“With trauma, the earlier you intervene, the more likely it is that a child will be able to cope better with the situation down the line,” said Batten.
Escobar believes this will provide another valuable resource for their team and the community.
“I think it will build our relationship with our community and, you know, hopefully, help children out there,” said
This month, Childsavers began training with RAA staff about their services and how to approach a child exposed to trauma.
If your child is experiencing trauma, you can call Childsavers’ immediate response helpline at 804-305-2420. If your child is expressing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988.