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frequently asked questions
1. How do I become a volunteer?
Phone (705) 325-5578, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or drop into the detachment at 66 Peter Street South to fill out an application form. You will be interviewed by two people, will undergo a police check and three references will be contacted on your behalf. At that point you may be accepted into the training programme. At the end of the training there is an open-book test and a further interview before being accepted as a volunteer.
2. How do I know that my “situation” won’t be talked about all over town?
All volunteers are required to take an Oath of Confidentiality. Violations of this oath will not be tolerated.
3. If I am a victim, how do I access the programme?
When there is police involvement, the officer will likely offer the programme to you. Emergency Services Personnel may also suggest the programme. Volunteers can attend at your home if the request has been made by the police and they can ascertain that it is a safe environment.
4. What if I don’t want to use the programme?
The programme is “victim consensual”. This means that you have to agree to the volunteers being asked in to give you assistance.
5. What sort of things can the volunteers do?
They are there to provide immediate emotional and practical support. They carry a referral manual with all sorts of supports listed in it. If necessary, they can help you access family to be with you, and help you sort out what to do next. The volunteers often take family members to the hospital after an accident, take women to the available shelter, or stay with families at the hospital while medical staff look after injured family members. They have also taken family to Toronto after a serious accident or injury if the victim has been airlifted to a trauma unit.
6. What sort of commitment do you expect from a volunteer?
At the end of the training we ask volunteers to commit to serving for a full year. We ask that volunteers be “on call” for a minimum of three-12 hour shifts per month. While on call, volunteers use their personal cell phone and are free to carry on with their regular life. If there is a call for service, we expect the volunteer to respond immediately as we try to have a half-hour response time.
7. It sounds like it could be dangerous, is it?
We work very closely with the police to make sure you are safe. If volunteers are responding to a domestic, we ask the police to have the offender removed and housed in the cells. If the police feel that it is an unsafe situation, volunteers will not be sent out. They may meet the victim in the detachment or at the hospital. If, for some reason, the situation changes, the police will notify the volunteers to leave immediately
8. Why do you have to have access to a car?
Our volunteers live all over the area covered by the detachment and could be called out anywhere within our detachment area. As it is possible that volunteers could live some distance from each other, we ask that they have a valid driver’s licence, insurance and access to a car.
9. How do the shifts work?
The shifts are 12 hours long (7:00 a.m. to 7 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m.) These match the shift times of our officers. There is a team leader and two volunteers on each shift. The police or other emergency services access the team leader who calls out the volunteers. The team leader keeps track of where the volunteers are at all times. If the volunteers need answers to questions, they can also call back their team leader for support and information.
10. What if more people are needed or if I get sick and can’t go on a shift?
We keep a list of people we can call on very short notice. We realize that “life happens” and there may be times when you cannot fulfill your commitment.
11. What happens if a call comes in for a good friend of mine?
We suggest that you notify your team leader and ask to be replaced, as it could change the relationship you have with your friend.