MDHHS, Partners Offer Victim Advocate Crisis Response Training

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is partnering with the Michigan State Police and the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan (PAAM) to sponsor a series of regional trainings to prepare victim advocates to help victims of mass violence.

Michigan currently has an emergency response plan for mass violence that involves law enforcement and first responders, however; victim advocates are not part of the plan. The free crisis response training targets victim advocates who work or volunteer for public or non-profit agencies such as a local prosecuting attorney office or a domestic violence shelter. Once trained, advocates will be included in the state’s emergency response plan.

The Division of Victim Services, located within MDHHS, is funding the $300,000 training project through its Crime Victim Rights Fund.

“Victim advocates are the go-to people for crime victims,” said Nancy Vreibel, MDHHS chief deputy director. “Advocates provide information, resources and emotional support after a victim’s life has been turned upside down. It only makes sense to be proactive and train advocates in our state to be prepared to help victims of a mass violent event.”

The first of seven trainings will be held July 10-12 at the Edward Hotel and Convention Center in Dearborn for advocates in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties. The second regional training will be offered to advocates in the Upper Peninsula and will take place in September in Marquette. The remaining five regional trainings will occur in 2019. Participants must be victim advocates to attend the training and can register on the PAAM website. The training is by invitation only.

The Division of Victim Services has contracted with the National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA) to conduct the crisis response trainings. Since 1986, NOVA has been involved in hundreds of small-scale critical incidents as well as mass-casualty disasters. The training focuses on the fundamentals of crisis and trauma and how to adapt basic techniques to individuals and groups in this area, also known as psychological first aid. Thousands who confront human crisis – victim advocates, law enforcement officers and others – have completed the course.

“Unfortunately, mass violent events have occurred across the country, including Boston, Orlando, Las Vegas and most recently Parkland, Fla. and Santa Fe, Texas,” said Vreibel. “In the aftermath of these tragic events, victim advocates played a critical role in providing victims with the proper resources and services.”

MDHHS and its partners are asking advocates to attend the entire training and then commit to two years of availability if a mass casualty incident occurs in their respective community or throughout the state. For more information about the Division of Victim Services, visit