Digby needs a sexual assault response team that will respond quickly and reduce trauma for victims, says Nicole Hattie, an outreach worker for Tri-County Women’s Center.
She told town council on June 4 that the team should include on-call nurses specifically trained for examinations and a designated room in Digby General Hospital, fully equipment with blankets and necessary equipment. There is usually only one emergency doctor at the hospital at a time, Hattie said, so sexual assault victims can be low on the list of priorities.
“We would have an actual nurse on site that would be able to examine a victim of sexual assault,” she said, “because if you have a doctor that is at the outpatients, when someone comes in halfway through the examination, you can’t stop it. But if someone comes in with cardiac arrest, and there’s only one person on staff, they have to go.”
Tri-County Women’s Center was founded in 2002, and is a community-based group that runs a multitude of support programs, educational initiatives and sexual health projects.
Hattie told the council that the group has been working hard to create a protocol that will be implemented in the case of a sexual assault, but the funding is not yet in place.
“We are waiting for funding, but there is a need for this, and other hospitals already have a similar program.”
A list of volunteers would be first responders for anyone who is sexually assaulted in the area. Hattie said the sexual assault protocol would include the Crown attorney’s office, Mental Health and Addictions Services, the department of justice victim’s services program, RCMP and the Digby hospital.
Hattie said she has been meeting with service providers and is almost ready to sign off on the protocol. She hopes the sexual response team will be running within a year or two.