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Survivor Support Team


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History and Overview of the Survivor Support Role

In 2023, The Coroner's Office created the Survivor Support program to provide on-scene advocacy and follow-up services to survivors of a local death. We are the only organization providing these services in Crawford County.

Each time someone dies or experiences a major trauma in our community, six people on average request Survivor Support Services. These people, whom we call "Survivors," are mostly encountered by law enforcement on scene and occasionally by ambulance and fire departments who pass along their request for support to Crawford County Dispatch.  

Our Purpose as the Survivor Support Team
The foundation of our work is the belief in each survivor's capacity to recover from trauma and grief through resilience. We provide immediate logistical support and ongoing guidance to connect survivors to grief and dying resources.

Survivors can be all kinds of people - roommates, friends, family members or a concerned neighbor or passer-by. Survivors may be family, close to the decedent, or happen upon a deceased person by chance. They may be involved in attempting to save a life or may find someone who obviously died sometime prior. Anyone could happen to be first on scene at a death and make the discovery of a decedent. The support staff team concentrates on the needs of survivors on the scene and supports next of kin (no matter where they are).  

There are two main purposes of the Survivor Support role:  

1) Supporting a healthy resilience to trauma and the mental well-being of survivors and 

2) Allowing the death investigator (Coroner) to focus on handling the body and subsequent investigation. 

Typical survivors of Crawford County deaths include family members plus both bystander and uniformed first responders, accident eyewitnesses, and staff members of those businesses where death occurs.  


All manner of deaths, including both expected deaths due to chronic long-term health issues and unexpected accidental and suicidal deaths, create a high need for emotional and logistical support for many community members. This need for Survivor Support Services begins immediately upon a death, and continues for weeks and months, and can continue for years.

The Survivor Support program is available 24 hours a day 365 days a year for any death in the county as well as other traumatic incidences that require their support.  The role of the Survivor Support Staff will be to respond to each death scene with an investigator, as needed, to offer emotional and logistical support to the people on scene. 

The support services provided vary with each scenario. They may include: 

·    Finding a friend for the survivor to talk to.

·    Calling friends on their behalf to make notifications of the death.

·    Offering support through processing initial grief and/or trauma. 

·    Find a survivor someplace to stay if they are uncomfortable in an empty house or not allowed to stay in their own home.

·    Helping find next of kin.

·    Answering questions as to the process the decedent goes through.

·    Understanding and making funeral arrangements. 

·    Offer choices for community resources such as individual and group counseling.

·    Connecting survivors to resources (in any location) for professional counseling or therapy.

·    Provide contacts for local support and human services agencies.


Additionally, whenever there is a death of an out-of-town visitor, there are many arrangements to be made regarding travel, transportation of the decedent back to their home state, helping to access services regarding funeral arrangements and other logistical needs for a vacation that was cut short by an unexpected death. These people often have no support in the area and may feel isolated in addition to facing overwhelming circumstances. Having a qualified, compassionate support person at this time has proven to be able to help them move forward in processing their grief.

Community Need

The greatest benefit provided by the Survivor Support Program is creating a community climate that advocates for mental well-being and a healthy resilience to trauma. Having a Survivor Support Services staff on-scene is additionally a crucial part of the overall investigative response. It allows law enforcement and Coroner's office deputy and investigator to fully focus on the scene, evidence, and the body without having their attention diverted to assisting survivors. All survivors, including friends, family, and bystanders, are typically distraught, overwhelmed, and very emotional and often interfere with the investigation. With Survivor Support staff on hand, Law Enforcement can better focus on the scene and get it cleared as soon as reasonably possible.


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