When tragedies such as drownings, fires or suicides happen, first responders are there. Alongside them, are specially trained citizens from the Trauma Intervention Program, known as TIP of Northern Nevada, Inc. These volunteers show up to support the survivors.

Andi Guevara met with TIP members to learn what the program is all about…

"I know I had someone sitting next to me the entire time who made me feel like, okay, I'm not alone", says TIP Executive Director, Gabrielle Totton, remembering the day she lost her mom when she was just 12 years old.

Totton says, she knows the effect that tragedy has on our emotions.

"People are really devastated and brought down to this basic level, regardless of who it is,” says Totton.

From house fires and car crashes to murders, volunteers from TIP show up - at any time of day or night - to help the survivors. They are there in great part, for emotional support.

"A lot of the time they're very grateful for you being there and after a while you realize you're doing a lot more than you feel like you are in the moment,” says UNR student Selena Gallegos, who’s been volunteering for the past year.

The participants are thoroughly trained to deal with the unique demands of an emergency situation.

Chief Deputy Tom Green says the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office only has one advocate for victims services and that person is stretched thin. "Having someone there from TIP allows the officer - or the deputy - to be freed up to do the investigative piece that they need to do."

That help is especially vital when large emergencies happen, like in 2013 when a gunman opened fire at the Renown Medical campus in Reno. Forty TIP volunteer responded and listened to witnesses before and after interviews with police. "Share with us - tell me what happened? And then what happened? And what did you see next? And how did you respond?…and kind of reaffirming for them the good that they did. You called 9-1-1, that's incredible," explains Totton of the conversations they had that day.

In addition to a warm shoulder, the TIP folks also provide survivors of tragedy a resource guide that outlines everything from funeral services to family counselors available. Some of the volunteers have not only provided support, they've received it. "Everything kinda went out the window, when it happened to me,” remembers Selena. “So, it was really great having them there. Being alone during that would've been really hard.”

In northern Nevada, there are TIP volunteers on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

TIP of Northern Nevada is a non-profit organization. On February 22nd, their annual Heroes With Heart dinner will be raising funds and honoring first responders.

“The annual Heroes with Heart Dinner is a gala event that recognizes police, sheriffs, officers, firefighters and hospital personnel who went above the call of duty throughout the year to provide compassionate support to citizens in crisis. Recipients of the Heroes with Heart Award are unsung heroes who, at this event, are given the public recognition they deserve. You can show your support of emergency responders in Washoe County who protect the community on a day-to-day basis by either becoming a sponsor of the Heroes with Heart Dinner or attending the event.”

Date: February 22, 2018

Time: 6:00 pm to 9:30 pm

Location: Nugget Casino Resort, Sparks

Per-Person tickets: $75.00

If you would like to buy tickets or learn about becoming a volunteer, click this link - http://www.tipnnv.org/heroes-with-heart/