Michigan's Victim Resource Task Force

Jeremy Hagerman, BS, FF/EMTP – MDHHS Mass Casualty Resource Coordinator, Victim Resource Task Force


Michigan’s Victim Resource Task Force (VRTF) was established in 2018 through a partnership under Michigan Department of Health and Human Services between the Division of Victim Services and the Bureau of EMS, Trauma and Preparedness. While the task force was conceptualized in the wake of a few previous mass violence incidents in our state, the aftermath of the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival shooting in Nevada highlighted the need for Michigan to have an established process to provide services to victims of mass violence. This program has grown quickly over the last year to promote preparedness in the unfortunate circumstance of a mass violence incident. VRTF partners with agencies including the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan, the Michigan Sheriffs Association, and non-profits like child advocacy centers and domestic violence shelters. Earlier this year, Michigan adopted the first protocol into the state Emergency Operations Plan to include the team of victim advocates in emergency response and recovery and to outline a deployment guideline.

Members of VRTF are trained advocates who provide important trauma-informed care to victims of a crime. In addition to emotional support, advocates connect victims with locally available resources and file the necessary paperwork and often attend court proceedings related to the crime with victims and their family members.

Currently, the task force has 200 advocates. Each advocate has completed the National Organization for Victim Assistance Crisis Response Team Training, a 24-hour certification class that teaches participants trauma mitigation and victim support through Group Crisis Intervention (GCI). While GCI is a focused task, members are also trained to assist victims and family members during death notifications, and to support community members visiting a family assistance center in the aftermath of a mass violence incident.

The importance of creating and maintaining a victim task force comes from a resiliency-focused mindset. The goal of the VRTF is to strengthen the community response to mass casualty incidents. The task force helps community members better understand the terrible incident that occurred and gives the opportunity to voice their experience. It is our hope that when our services are needed, we be an example of supportive care that allows victims, survivors, family and community members the chance to grieve with dignity, establish resilience, and create a sense of purpose and hope as they look forward to a life forever changed.


Sign up for Victim Resource Task Force event and training updates: https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/MIDHHS/subscriber/new?topic_id=MIDHHS_539