In recent days, Orange PD officers responded to two unrelated calls for service regarding a death in the home. One was an elderly person who died. The other was a man in his 50s. Neither were COVID-19-related deaths.
Both were calls to which Orange PD officers routinely respond. They take reports, do what they can to comfort the families, and in most cases, when the loved ones of the deceased are open to the idea, the officers summon volunteers from Trauma Intervention Program (TIP) Orange County to provide emotional first aid and practical support to the grieving parties.
TIP, which has served Orange County for 25 years, continues to provide emotional first aid and practical support to loved ones of victims of tragedies via telephone intervention during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
For the past 25 years, TIP volunteers have responded to police and fire agencies, as well as to hospitals, in person. When the COVID-19 pandemic turned the world upside down in mid-March, the non-profit organization instantly pivoted to provide its service via telephone intervention through a program it calls Tele TIP.
With stay-at-home orders and strict social distancing mandates about to enter a sixth week, TIP will serve clients through Tele Tip indefinitely until volunteers can safely return to making in-person interventions, officials said.
“As soon as it became apparent that stay-at-home orders would be put in place in our community, TIP OC immediately developed and initiated the robust and valuable Tele TIP program,” said TIP founder and chief executive officer Wayne Fortin.
“TIP will continue to serve the communities of Orange County and our emergency responder partners at a time when the expertise our volunteers provide is needed more than ever,” Fortin added.
TIP, whose biggest service area is Orange County, has 14 affiliates serving over 250 cities across the nation.
Mandy Atkission, CEO of TIP National, said: “Now more than ever, our communities need the support TIP offers. Too many people are alone and isolated when a crisis happens. We are proud that our TIP volunteers are still able to ‘be there’ during this ongoing crisis.”
TIP of OC also has expanded its services and is working with funeral homes and 911 dispatch centers that can refer distraught clients to Tele TIP.
Gail Hammer is one of some 120 TIP volunteers in Orange County. The resident of North Tustin has been a TIP volunteer for more than two years.
“Tele Tip is a way for me and my fellow volunteers to continue serving clients in their time of need,” Hammer said. “While remote ‘tipping’ is different, this avenue allows us to provide emotional and logistical support in a variety of ways — voice to voice, text and/or e-mail — as appropriate over several hours or days following the trauma.”
Sgt. Phil McMullin, of the Orange PD, said his officers summoned TIP volunteers on the two recent death-in-the-home calls.
“It worked just as good as it does when the volunteers show up in person,” McMullin said. “It’s been a great transition for us, and we really appreciate their service.”
For more information about TIP, visit tiporangecounty.org