MAINE, USA — The Trauma Intervention Program - or TIP - is a team of men and women in Maine who volunteer their time to be there for someone in crisis. 

These highly-trained volunteers are available 24/7, 365 days a year to provide emotional first aid and practical support to Mainers who are experiencing the worse day of their lives. 

Right now, COVID-19 is not only changing the way we live our lives, but it's also forcing many organizations to find new ways to operate. 

When the first responder community in Maine is dealing with a traumatic event they often call the Trauma Intervention Program.

A group of highly trained volunteers who arrive on scene to provide emotional and practical support to victims and their families.

"We're there, right with the survivors in the moments following, right at the location," TIP Program manager Leslie Skillin said.

But since COVID-19 became a global pandemic, health officials have been urging people to stay home or keep their distance.

Skillin said the right thing to do is keep volunteers from responding in person.

"We are trying to the best we can as responsible community members and recognize going into homes is not the best thing right now. The volunteers are just sitting at home, we're watching the news and wondering if there are people out there who might need us. It's a tough position to be in".

So Skillin came up with TELETIP.

"We can support people over the phone to be there as that calm voice to be there, somebody who can listen give them a chance and opportunity to share what has happened to them or share concerns they have or maybe they need help making arrangements and they don't know where to being. We can help organize their thoughts and we have a lot of resources that we can refer them to."

Scarborough Fire Chief Mike Thurlow is grateful TIP volunteers will still be available when needed.

"TIP volunteers have been a Godsend. Our folks are trying to support as much as we can for family members but at some point, they have to get back to the next call, be ready for the next emergency and what Leslie and her volunteers have done is fill that gap."

Skillin created cards for the first responder community to give to survivors and victims in crisis. Those cards explain what TIP is and what support they can offer them.

"It's an opportunity to provide some level of support. Though it's not in the traditional method of delivery, which is face to face contact or a hug to someone who might need it. There is still a lot they can do remotely to still support those families," Chief Thurlow said. 

"We're just trying to do whatever we can to make sure folks know there is someone that will call them back and be there for them in whatever way we can," Skillin said.

TIP of Portland, Maine, was established in 2004, in partnership with TIP National and the Junior League of Portland, Maine, and is proud to partner with a range of first responder teams in the greater Portland area/across Cumberland County. 

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At NEWS CENTER Maine, we're focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: /coronavirus

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