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Support 7 launches virtual chaplain response hotline

Series: Coronavirus | Story 101

Last updated 4/10/2020 at 12:42pm


Since 1981, Support 7 and south Snohomish County chaplains have responded alongside local first responders serving face-to-face as compassionate care liaisons during on-scene death incidents, helping victims, and survivors connect the dots to practical next steps.

Now, they have created a way during this unprecedented time to keep their own volunteers and members of the community safe while still continuing this critical work.

"As this national health emergency extends, we have adapted our delivery method for how we continue to safely serve our local first responders and how we respond directly to help those in crisis in South Snohomish County," said Shannon Sessions, executive director of Support 7 and South County Chaplains.

This new normal is what inspired the "virtual" Support 7 Chaplain Response Hotline cards.

How the cards work: First responders who are at an incident where there are individuals and families needing immediate assistance call the hotline and request Support 7 follow up with those in need.

In addition, the first responder has printed cards that may be left with those in need of services so they can call to speak to a chaplain when they are ready.

The 24/7 duty-chaplains follow up with local calls via phone, text, Zoom technology, FaceTime, or email.

"These are unprecedented times, but thankfully there is technology to allow the vital support services of Support 7 to safely continue to offer compassion to individuals and first responders in times of great need," said Sesssions.

The hotline isn't currently available to the general public; instead, it is exclusively for first responders at on-scene emergency incidents in south Snohomish County.

"It's been a week since we've rolled out the new cards and the Chaplain Response Hotline to South Snohomish County Fire and South County law enforcement agencies and there has been calls to it," said Sessions.

"While it's not as good as being in person, we are grateful to still be able to assist in a small but meaningful way. We treat these families the way we would want our families treated."

Volunteers are trained, trusted, and vetted to assist others through immediate next steps and connecting to local resources such as funeral, county medical examiner, grief and counseling resources, local assistance with temporary housing/clothing, Red Cross, and local churches.

"Even without Covid19," said Sessions, "our community is touched by all kinds of unexpected and tragic events that impact families and first responders. Such as residential and commercial fires, crime scene deaths, natural end of life deaths are common responses for the Support 7 team.

"Supporting families around the tragic increase in self-inflicted deaths by suicide is another way we provide community care."


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