Counsellors thanked

2018-02-20 06:00
Acting Station Commander Captain Ansley Jacobs, Diep River CPF Chairperson Robert Rjikers, and Trauma Unit Representative Ursula Schenker.

Acting Station Commander Captain Ansley Jacobs, Diep River CPF Chairperson Robert Rjikers, and Trauma Unit Representative Ursula Schenker.

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Diep River police and the Community Policing Forum have thanked volunteer counsellors for the work they do in the station’s Trauma Unit.

A certificate of thanks was handed over to Urshula Shencker, one of the members who serve in the Trauma Unit, last Tuesday (13 February).

The Trauma Unit consists of volunteer counsellors who have been specifically trained in trauma debriefing. Counselling and support is given to victims of violence and crime. The unit currently has 21 volunteers who work a shift of about five hours and the unit has counsellors ready to help 24/7 and this is done for free.

Niki Venter, one of the volunteers in the Trauma Unit, says it feels great to be acknowledged. “We are one of the few trauma rooms that run 24/7 and we are happy about what we do. We are all volunteers and it is really nice to get the acknowledgement. We would like to urge the community to also make use of the trauma room. We try to do awareness campaigns as it looks like a lot of people are not really aware of the services that we offer. We want people to make use of the trauma counselling offered for free. It is also important to have a trauma room given the work that police do. They need to follow up on cases and get information so we are there to help,” she says.

Diep River police spokesperson Constable Zak Marais says trauma debriefing should be considered because witnessing or experiencing a traumatic incident can leave people feeling helpless, finding it difficult to cope and suffering from a wide range of cognitive, emotional and physiological symptoms.

“Trauma debriefing after an event can help to minimise the long-term effects of trauma and assist in the prevention of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Ideally, trauma debriefing should take place within 24 to 72 hours after the event or as soon as possible thereafter.”

Schenker has been volunteering at the trauma room for seven years. Her call to help came after she was involved in a car accident. “It was such a traumatic time for me. I went to the police station for help and it was there. After being counselled I thought to myself: I should do this to help others as well.”

She has undergone training and she says she is happy that she can help. 

She believes trauma counsellors are unsung heroes. “These people are always there to help. We are called to the crime scene and at times victims don’t even want to say anything. We help them calm down and let them see the importance of talking to the police. At times they are the only link to a crime so we do our best so let them open up and speak.”

The service is not only for victims of crime and the Unit offers a range of information and referral to other departments.

VCall Diep River police on 021 710 7300 (switchboard) or the trauma room directly on 021 710 7342 for help.

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