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Collaborative effort in first response to treat victims of sexual assault

A team effort involving four community agencies is what is required for the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) program.

The RCMP, staff at the Lloydminster Hospital, Midwest Victims Services and Lloydminster Sexual Assault Services are all involved when someone reports a sexual assault, indicates Maria Sarcauga-Gantefoer, director of specialized supports with LSAS.

Sarcauga-Gantefoer explains that the program provides support to recent victims of sexual assault and can be accessed either at the hospital, RCMP, Midwest Victims Services or LSAS.

“So we are given a call – or during our after hours the Midwest Victims Services is given a call and the RCMP is given a call. One of our representatives at the sexual assault centre is going to come there and advocate for the client. Basically, offer them support and walk them through what the process is and make them understand that these are typically the things that would happen during your time here at the hospital.”

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Sarcauga-Gantefoer says the client is likely in an overwhelmed state with not only what they have experienced, but also what is required for the next steps, so their service as advocates embodies help to understand, navigate the process and provide emotional support.

The next steps include getting the sexual assault kit done at the hospital to assist in the evidence gathering process with the RCMP. Also, the client is given an overall medical checkup that includes testing for any diseases, pregnancy prevention and treating physical injuries. Then there is an initial statement given to RCMP to be followed by another statement at a later point either at the detachment or at the LSAS Little Bear program, if the assault victim is a minor. With minors, there are more logistics involved, explains Sarcauga-Gantefoer.

“We still as a sexual response team come and support our clients, but we also let the young Little Bear advocacy centre know of what is going on – give them a heads up that it is a minor that is involved. Typically at the hospital right now, we can’t do sexual assault kits on minors. It is up to the discretion of the doctor at the hospital as to what that is going to look like, but typically the kits are done either in Edmonton or Saskatoon, where they have children’s hospitals that are more equipped to handle sensitive cases.”

She says they are in conversations to explore if the sexual assault kits for minors can be made accessible in this region to avoid having to travel to the children’s hospitals in the nearby cities.

LSAS then refers the client to follow up supports through its various programs or other community services, for example the Interval Home in cases of domestic violence or other mental health services as required.

All of these program supports that are available at LSAS operate out of their 100-year old building which needs repairs to its foundation at a cost of $450,000.

More information on the Feb. 11 gala-fundraiser to support the repairs can be found online.

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