On call for you

23 February 2004

Who you gonna call: The ISRT team is (from left) Margie Tainton, Rhiannon Thomas, Ottoline Clapham, Mary Hilton, Sue Kuyper and Andria Plos. (Absent: John Samuels, Ingrid Thomson and Susan Bourne.

Say hello to the nine members of UCT's new Immediate Support Response Team (or ISRTs if you like snappy acronyms), on call to help you in the event of a traumatic incident while at work. They're all volunteers from among your colleagues, having come forward following Monday Paper's call-up last year, on behalf of the HR's organisational health department.

The clan below is Mary Hilton (communication and development), Ingrid Thomson (libraries), Sue Kuyper (Avian Demography Unit), Margie Tainton (human resources), Rhiannon Thomas (law), Susan Bourne (science), John Samuels (obstetrics and gynaecology), Andria Plos (zoology) and Ottoline Clapham (human resources).

They have been trained to act as UCT's first line of support for staff should there be a traumatic incident at work.

Staffers may find themselves victims of serious injury, assault, hijack, a hostage situation, suicide or suicide attempt, shooting or rape on campus, or even witnesses to traumatic incidents here. The ISRT team are the folk who will be called in immediately to "contain and support" the victim (or victims) and assist until professional services arrive (ambulance service, professional trauma counsellor, hostage or suicide negotiators, South African Police Services, etc.)

Once the necessary documentation required for the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act 30 of 1993 (COIDA, or the old Workers Compensation Act) and the official activities have been completed, these colleagues will accompany victims home or to a safe haven and will be on call to them, providing support until the case has been closed.

You could call them lay counsellors. Like Mary Hilton, they all fit the bill in terms of caring, calm and collected people.

"When I worked in students recruitment I did a lot of counselling," Hilton said. "This offered me an opportunity to develop new skills in helping people, skills which were consolidated in the post-trauma support course that we have all recently attended."

The team's establishment underpins UCT's commitment to enhance our working lives and to provide appropriate health benefits, all part of the Vision 2000 statement. Their formation also brings UCT in line with COIDA requirements.

But please note that the Immediate Support Response Team will act only on instruction from Campus Protection Services.

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