Vicarious Trauma Toolkit (VTT):

Evidence-Based Support for Victim Assistance Providers, Law Enforcement Officers, Firefighters and Emergency Medical Services Providers

Victim assistance and first responder organizations know vicarious trauma (and the related constructs of compassion fatigue and burnout) are all too real and can seriously impact the physical and emotional well-being of staff.  Vicarious trauma also has serious implications for the delivery of quality services and staff turnover.  This project’s goal is to fill this gap by delivering a nationally pilot-tested training and technical assistance toolkit.

It takes courage to help victims of violence, to run towards an active shooter, into a burning building hit by a plane, or to the side of a victim of gang-violence. Helping victims also puts responders at risk of harm themselves, not from bullets or fire, but from vicarious trauma. While prevalence studies of vicarious trauma and its effects are rare, those that have been reported focus on individual sectors of responders and suffer from inconsistent definitions across studies. However, several findings have consistently reported that between 40% and 80% of helping professionals have experienced compassion, fatigue and/or high rates of secondary trauma.

A global analysis of firefighters, ambulance personnel, police officers, search/rescue teams pooled 28 worldwide prevalence studies of PTSD, finding an overall prevalence of 10%, with ambulance personnel having the highest (14.6%). Among providers of psychosocial services to traumatized clients, a review of 15 studies found evidence of traumatic stress symptoms, disrupted cognitive schema, and general psychological distress. Organizations know vicarious trauma hurts and are aware of the related constructs of compassion fatigue and burnout as risk factors for turnover. This project’s goal is to fill this gap by delivering a nationally pilot-tested training and technical assistance toolkit. Agencies can use this toolkit to address vicarious trauma in victim assistance professionals, law enforcement and other first responders. Our anticipated outcome is that the Vicarious Trauma Toolkit lessens the impact of vicarious trauma and sustains first responders to help the next victim who needs them.

PILOT SITES ANNOUNCED

Northeastern University’s Institute on Urban Health Research and Practice announces the selection of national pilot sites for the testing of the Vicarious Trauma Toolkit developed with support and funding from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office for Victims of Crime.

“The Vicarious Trauma Toolkit (VTT) Project recognizes the very real impact experienced by first responders and victim service providers when responding to traumatic events and those who have experienced trauma,” said Associate Professor Beth Molnar, ScD, Principal Investigator for the VTT Project and Interim Co-Director of the Institute on Urban Health Research and Practice at Northeastern University.

Click here to read more about the pilot sites and their locations.

What We’ve Done So Far:

 

  • An extensive search and review of literature and internet resources;
  • A national survey of the field to assess existing policies, procedures, practices and programs;
  • A gap analysis to determine what is lacking in the identification, prevention, and treatment of the effects of vicarious trauma;
  • A compilation of training and technical assistance resources for the pilot toolkit.

 

Associated IUHRP Staff

Beth Molnar

Beth Molnar

Principle Investigator
Janet E. Fine

Janet E. Fine

Project Director
Karen Irene Kalergis

Karen Irene Kalergis

Product Coordinator
Domenic Corey

Domenic Corey

Graduate Research Fellow
Jessica Wolfe

Jessica Wolfe

Graduate Research Assistant
Andrea Hill

Andrea Hill

Research Assistant