Many of you may have heard of the Tips program or even may have experienced using the Service that we provide to our members on the Sydney Northern Beaches.
Tips stands for Traumatic incident Peer Support and I am Trish Newton the coordinator of this program.
The members of the Peer Support Team (Tips) are carefully chosen Volunteers from within the Surf lifesaving ranks who are trained to support our members after they have been involved in or exposed to a critical incident. The program we are aligned with is affiliated with ICISF, (International Critical Incident Stress Foundation) and is world standard practice for first responders. The Peers provide immediate onsite group or individual support as soon as possible after an incident. Ongoing continued support and assistance is given as is required and mutually agreed upon by individuals in each case.
There are many and varied things that can constitute a critical incident and what may affect one person may not necessarily affect another.
It is strictly confidential; we report to no one and it is managed by a trained mental health professional. We are not there to do an operational debrief, this is the Duty Officers role. We are there to provide immediate emotional and psychological support which is called a “Defuse”. The process is not intrusive and is designed to assist those people involved in a critical incident, to be supported and given appropriate information to guide them towards a healthy recovery.
Sometimes there are things that can worry our members and cause anxiety and stress for which they are unsure of what to do or where to go to seek assistance for what they are feeling.
So, this Season as a trial the Tips program in this Branch only, is setting up an email that goes directly to the Tips coordinator and no one else. A member can ask for a call back from a Peer Support person or an email response. All emails and contacts will be kept strictly confidential and only statistics of numbers, types and referrals will be logged to find out if this service is useful.
We have all been through some unusual, challenging and anxious times over the last few seasons with Covid. There is so much information out there in the media and social media about who you can call such as Lifeline, Beyond Blue and many other wonderful organisations. Contacting strangers can be a difficult thing to do so perhaps an email to someone trained and trustworthy from within the Northern Beaches family of SLS could be a first step to easing a worry.
We are not Counsellors and should not be confused with other Mental Health professionals but we are trained, experienced Peers, who offer support, listen, can give appropriate information and can suggest referrals if required or where to seek appropriate help.
This will be the 27th season that the Tips program has been running in our Branch so we already exist, we are lifesavers caring for lifesavers and we are user friendly.
So, in this time of perhaps feeling a bit flat, lethargic, unenthused, or worried about the future, know you are not alone. Covid has laid a heavy cloud over many of us this past year with the lock down. Like a sea mist that has slowly crept in and is still hovering, waiting to disperse and allow the sun to appear again. Humans are basically designed to be resilient but sometimes resilience can run short and can be complicated with other issues.
So take care of you, nourish your body and soul and eat well, stay connected with loved ones and friends as best as you can under Covid requirements. Try to exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep and fill your mind where possible with positive things as we are already fed doom and gloom every day from many sources.
I wish you well for the coming season when the flags go back up and we all once more strive to keep our beaches and the community safe.
Your Tips team.
Life savers caring for Lifesavers.