The “Frequently Asked Questions” below give a general overview of The Mayor’s Crisis Response Team. For more information about becoming a CRT volunteer, please contact our administrators in the Mayor’s office.
- What is the Mayor’s Crisis Response Team (CRT)?
The CRT is a group of trained, on-call volunteers from all walks of life who provide immediate, on-scene, practical, and emotional support to survivors impacted by personal tragedies. These tragedies most often involve the sudden death of a loved one from heart attack, suicide, homicide, accident, or other unexpected cause.
- What do CRT responders actually do?
Just as the paramedic’s role is distinct from nurses’ and doctors’ roles, the CRT volunteer’s role is quite distinct from those of clinical counselors and clergy. CRT members receive extensive, on-going training in crisis care and trauma intervention. They are typically only involved with survivors in the first hours immediately following an incident. Once on scene, CRT members help to:
- Calm survivors and serve as liaison with public safety officials.
- Provide a compassionate presence to help survivors express their feelings.
- Help convene their family, friends, and clergy.
- Help them understand what is happening and what to expect.
- Teach them how to care for themselves and one another in the days and weeks to come.
- Refer them to agencies that provide long-term support.
- Provide other practical assistance as appropriate.
- Do responders provide long-term follow up?
The CRT is typically on scene for a couple or few hours. A core purpose of on-scene crisis care is to refer survivors to community resources that already offer long-term follow up support. Program staff may reach out to survivors in the ensuing days to see how they are doing, and ensure that they have made contact with the resources to which they were referred by on-scene volunteers.
- How much good can responders actually do in just a few hours on scene?
When tragedy strikes, many survivors face a critical moment in their lives in which the vicarious circumstances of their experience can profoundly intensify the impact of the tragedy itself. Effective on-scene compassion, support, and referrals help “contain” the impact. This in turn helps survivors begin a path to rebuilding healthy, fulfilling, productive lives, rather than down a path to despair, substance abuse, school failure, job loss, family breakup, and other problems. Crisis care programs regularly receive letters from survivors months after an incident expressing how positively the volunteers impacted them.
- Do these kinds of personal tragedies really happen very often?
Every week around the U.S., over 3,000 people die from suicides, homicides and accidental injuries (Source: Mortality Report, U.S. Centers for Disease Control). That’s more than ten a week in a municipality of a million people. This does not even include unexpected natural deaths, such as heart attacks out in the community, “crib deaths” and others. Crisis care programs in mid-sized to large cities typically respond to hundreds of incidents each year. A volunteer who is on call twelve hours a week can typically expect to deploy at least once a month, if not two or three times.
- Who else might be doing this in my community?
Many communities around the U.S. have programs ancillary to community crisis care, such as programs that provide financial support to crime or fire victims, or that provide personal support days or weeks after a trauma, or only after major disasters. However, in most communities, particularly east of the Rockies, no other organization provides immediate on-scene personal support to survivors of the majority of daily tragedies like suicides, accidents, and unexpected natural deaths.
- How is the CRT activated?
Typically, police, fire or other public safety officials on scene radio the need for crisis volunteers to the Emergency Communication Center, which calls the local crisis care program’s 24-hour activation line.
- How many volunteers does the CRT need?
The CRT must be prepared to immediately send volunteers to any location in the City of Los Angeles, 365 days a year. The Mayor’s CRT has over 280 active volunteers on their rosters. Volunteers are required to serve 1 year after completing the academy, but are allowed to continue service as long as they meet program requirements, remain active with the team, and remain in the schedule. As volunteers complete their required year of service, opportunities open up for new volunteers to join the team. The CRT holds two academies every year where 20-25 new recruits are trained to become a part of the team.
- That’s a lot of volunteers. Who recruits and manages them?
The Mayor’s office retains a small team of paid staff to recruit, train, and manage the volunteer responders who make up the Crisis Response Team.
- Are CRT responders mental health counselors?
The immediate scene of a tragedy is usually not the time for clinical intervention, and the services provided by crisis volunteers are practical rather than clinical. Thus, volunteers come from all walks of life. In fact, mental health professionals can sometimes even have more difficulty “taking off their clinical hat” to become CRT responders.
- What kinds of people are called to volunteer?
Volunteers come from a very broad racial, sectarian, geographic, and socioeconomic cross-section of the community. Those with a genuine calling to this work demonstrate a number of other personal, intellectual and practical characteristics. They have genuine compassion for every human being, even those most unlike themselves. They exhibit profound peace and humility. They have the discipline to follow detailed protocols, submit to authority, be cheerfully flexible under frequently and rapidly changing circumstances, and follow through on their commitments. They display common sense and good judgment. They can learn to effectively use current telecommunications technology, including mobile phones and the Internet. They can remain standing outdoors for long periods of time during the hottest days of summer and the coldest nights of winter. Individuals who wish to get involved with the CRT but do not meet all of the requirements to be a responder can usually participate in other ways.
- How does the CRT screen and train their volunteers?
The Mayor’s Crisis Response Team requires volunteer candidates to complete an extensive application, provide references, and undergo a thorough background check by law enforcement. Successful volunteer applicants typically receive at least 45-50 hours of classroom training administered over a 7-week training academy. Trainees then accompany seasoned responders on live calls in the field. Trainees pass out of probation once they accumulate sufficient hours in the field, are exposed to a variety of different types of calls, and obtain consistently favorable reviews from the seasoned responders that they accompany.
- Are CRT volunteers paid?
No. Crisis Response Team responders volunteer their time and resources to make this program accessible to anyone in the City of Los Angeles.