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Community Trauma Team officially launched

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A group formed from not-for-profit organizations using trained volunteers to help local people in need of support after trauma has touched their lives is now available across the region.

The Community Trauma Team was officially launched on Tuesday but has been in business much longer, establishing itself to serve local residents in need of emotional and other support following a traumatic event.

The team, established by the Children’s Home Association of Illinois, is made up of trained volunteers certified in Early Intervention Field Trauma response. Services are available free of charge to residents of all ages in Peoria and the surrounding area. Visit the Community Trauma Team on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/communitytraumateam.

“People tend to think of ‘trauma’ in terms of catastrophic injuries or events, but any incident that affects long-term functioning beyond a person’s capacity to cope is a traumatic event,” said Tegan Camden, vice president of behavioral health at Children’s Home, during a news conference Tuesday at Children’s Home.

"Community Trauma Team volunteers are qualified to help people of all ages address the thoughts, feelings and behaviors that result from a traumatic event, whether it’s a natural disaster that impacts the entire community or an unexpected tragedy within a single family,” Camden said.

The Community Trauma Team, chaired by Children’s Home CEO Matt George, will work closely with local first responders, police departments, schools, churches and other community groups and organizations to identify individuals and families in need of support.

Local endorsers of the Team and its efforts include Peoria Police Chief Jerry Mitchell, Peoria State’s Attorney Jerry Brady, Andrew Rand, CEO of Advanced Medical Transport, Ryan Brady, head of the Peoria Firefighters Union, Jeremy Bencher. Crimestoppers board member, and Derrick Booth, director of Social Emotional Learning for Peoria Public Schools.

The Community Trauma Team will work closely with first responders, schools, churches and other community groups, Camden said.

In an emergency, first responders address the physical and safety needs of affected individuals such as shelter, water, food, and clothing. The Community Trauma Team addresses emotional and psychological issues and will provide emotional support and counseling free of charge.

Services provided include:

  • Individual or small group sessions to discuss thoughts and reactions to the event
  • Education on stress management
  • Crisis debriefing and grief counseling
  • Teaching of coping skills and new behaviors to manage stress
  • Development of action plans
  • Identification of community support resources
  • Follow-up, monitoring and referrals for those needing additional professional intervention

Camden said trauma can be any incident that affects the long-term functioning that goes beyond a person’s normal capacity to cope. Physiological symptoms of trauma include anxiety, stomachaches, headaches, nervousness and overwhelming feelings of guilt, anger, fear or dread.

The types of traumatic events to which the Community Trauma Team would respond include natural disasters, community violence, workplace injuries or fatalities, the loss of a loved one or being the victim of violent crime.

“Our purpose is to help people learn to cope and be able to move on,” Camden said,

She said the trauma event can be on a large or small scale. “Crises have been escalating here for years. We understand what trauma is and we want others to, as well,” she said.

Camden noted that the Community Trauma Team was actually founded three years ago in response to the devastating tornadoes that ripped through the region. It began serving people in other traumatic events almost a year ago, Camden said.

The Trauma Team is operated by the Children’s Home Association and is funded with a grant from the Heart of Illinois United Way. It will serve residents of Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Putnam, Stark and Marshall Counties.

To reach a crisis responder, call (309) 687-8600.

For more information about the team visit its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/communitytraumateam

About the Author
Paul Gordon is the editor of The Peorian after spending 29 years of indentured servitude at the Peoria Journal Star. He’s an award-winning writer, raconteur and song-and-dance man. He also went to a high school whose team name is the Alices (that’s Vincennes Lincoln High School in Indiana; you can look it up).