Most days, for most people, are mostly good days. They get up in the morning, go to a decent job that pays a decent salary and although the family may be in debt, it is manageable. Most live in a nice house, drive a newer vehicle and food and clothing are always in supply. The family has typical challenges but for the most part is happy.
Then a crime and/or tragedy strikes and their ‘normal’ lives become unravelled and they have to face a new reality. Lives may be lost, families broken and children may be forced to grow up in an atmosphere of fear and/or poverty. A new ‘normal’ emerges. Don’t think for a minute that this only happens to others, it can happen to anyone in the blink of an eye. Help readily available for victims of crime/tragedy Victim Services plays a vital role with assisting victims of crime and tragedy. Yet to many people, this important service is not well-known except for those who have used the services as a victim of crime/tragedy or have volunteered as a Victim Services Advocate. In a nutshell, the Wetaskiwin Victim Service Unit is available 24/7 to provide information, support, guidance and referrals to victims/survivors of crime and tragedy.
The Wetaskiwin and District Victim Service Unit in partnership with the local RCMP Detachment have assisted thousands of victims of crime and tragedy in the Wetaskiwin region since its inception approximately 17 years ago. An integral part of the unit is a dedicated group of volunteers, Victim Services Advocates. The carefully selected and well trained Advocates are available upon request of the RCMP to assist the victims of abuse, crime or tragedy, enabling the RCMP officers to deal with what they do best, conduct the investigation. Wetaskiwin Victim Services handles an average of 1000 to 1300 files per year.
“When assisting victims of crime and tragedy, the safety of our Advocates is of utmost importance” stressed Petra Pfeiffer, Executive Director, Wetaskiwin Victim Service Unit. “Every Advocate goes through an intensive training program that emphasizes procedures and best practices to ensure their safety when attending crisis call outs. We also provide them with the resources and information to pass on to the victims/survivors of a crime or tragedy.”
Pfeiffer described the added effort to provide safety for the Advocates. “I am very pleased that we could take the safety program for our Advocates one step further. We provided each Advocate with a new crisis call out kit including high visibility safety vests, flashlights, first aid kits, etc. and information packages that may be needed by the victims of crime and tragedy during crisis situations. Advocates use the vests for identification when attending a site where multiple emergency service providers are present and to be visible especially at night time.”
Cyrus Dastouri, Treasurer, Victim Services explains why financial support by the community is so important. “Victim Services receives an Alberta Solicitor General grant from the Victims of Crime Fund that provides funding for our base services. But it is community donations and FCSS grants that enable us to purchase additional items such as the vests and crisis call out bags. These items make it safer for our Advocates when attending scenes to assist victims of crime and tragedy and help to improve the quality of services we can offer these victims.“ Last year Wetaskiwin and District Victim Services Advocates contributed more than 13,000 volunteer hours (including on-call hours) to victims and ultimately, to the community.
It is through the generous support of community donations from service clubs and corporate donations and grants from Alberta Solicitor General Victim Services, the City of Wetaskiwin FCSS, the County of Wetaskiwin and the County of Wetaskiwin FCSS and the Millet FCSS that enables Wetaskiwin and District Victim Services that make the services to victims possible.
Victim Services Advocates are dispatched by the R.C.M.P. once a situation is deemed safe to provide immediate crisis intervention. Wetaskiwin and District Victim Services is the only organization in this area that can provide services 24/7/365 on scene if required.”
If you, or someone you know is a victim of a crime, experiencing family violence or is trying to cope with a tragic event and need some information and guidance, encourage them to reach at (780) 312-7287. The Unit is police based and located within the Wetaskiwin RCMP Detachment at 5005-48 Avenue in Wetaskiwin. Please note the phone line is not manned 24 hours, so please leave a message for nonemergency situations and someone will get back to you. If you have an emergency that requires police assistance please call 911.