by Victor Lopez
MIDLAND COUNTY--They're there for families in times of crisis, any time of day or night. They're called out by law enforcement, but now, they need a little more backup of their own.
NewsWest 9 went inside a group of volunteers that go where few others have.
The Midland Crisis Intervention Unit (CIU) was founded in 1989 as a voice for people, who felt they had no where to go after falling victim to a crime. Now, 21 years later, they help out in everything from runaways to survivors of homicide and suicide.
"(We're) just making sure that the families and the victims of that know where they can get help, here in Midland," CIU Coordinator, Kay Wesson, said.
Wesson was a crisis intervention volunteer for 5 years. She's been the unit's coordinator for the last three. She says CIU is there to help everyone in Midland County, "We help every law enforcement agency here in Midland, Sheriff, Police, DPS, FBI, Texas Rangers, yes, all of them."
Volunteers go through intense training to give them all the information they need to share with people who need it.
According to Unit Leader Don, "I worked the wreck where the two census workers were killed. I've been to the scene of a number of unattended deaths and about six suicides. "
Elva, who's only been a partner for 5 months says, "It was something hard but we have to be there for the victim and we have to be strong and help them in any way that we can. "
Even though they work out of the Midland County Sheriff's Department, no one at Crisis Intervention carries a gun, nor are they a licensed peace officer.
"We are not law enforcement. We are victim's services for Midland County," Wesson explained.
With 25 volunteers on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Wesson wishes they could have twice as many on hand to offer their services. That's why CIU offers a training class twice a year. Anyone, age 21 and over, is encouraged to take part. But, there is one catch.
"We will do a background check. You've just got to have a spotless record," Wesson said.
All the volunteers agree. It's hard work, but the rewards are many.
As Wesson describes, "This is just a group of people wanting to give back to the community."
"That's what makes me happy, knowing that I made a difference in somebody's life," Elva added.