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Dr. Angelina Trujillo, a women’s health nurse practitioner, teaches public health nursing at the University of Alaska Anchorage. She also has 20 years of experience in forensic nursing, which assists victims of sexual assault and child abuse. 

An assault occurs in Alaska every hour, according to the University of Alaska. But some healthcare professionals are unequipped to adequately help. In response, Trujillo and her team with the Alaska Comprehensive Forensic Training Academy developed a comprehensive training program in 2019. It helps people adequately document any type of violence. Beginning this week on June 17, they’re visiting communities in Southeast Alaska to create awareness of the training that could fill the gap.

“After having been around the state a number of times and working with different agencies, I really felt that we needed to focus more broadly on everyone who is victimized by violence,” she said.

On top of sexual abuse, this includes child and elder abuse, domestic violence, strangulation, human trafficking, emotional abuse and financial abuse.

“Let’s say a patient comes in and they’re talking about what’s happening to them,” Trujillo said. “It’s just as important for us to document physical injury as it is emotional, psychological, financial, right? That those pieces are getting put into the record at some point.”

Trujillo said most of the interest in it comes from rural Alaska. It’s for all levels of healthcare, which include EMTs, paramedics, nurses, health aides and behavioral health advocates. 

Trujillo said it’s important that these healthcare professionals know how to document and provide resources to all patients victimized by violence. It can also help legally when victims are prosecuted in court.

“If there isn’t good medical documentation that has a forensic focus to it, then that doesn’t ever go forward to the court of law,” she said. 

It’s important to meet community members to understand their needs

 Trujillo will meet with community organizations in Wrangell, Petersburg, Ketchikan and Klawock.

She said it’s important to meet community members to understand what the needs are on a local level, so they’re asking for people to come in to give feedback. They’ll provide a short presentation of the process and why the training is important. 

Trujillo said they are hopeful that emergency service providers, school district employees, behavioral health professionals and city government will attend the meeting.

“When we’re working together to combat violence, we have to work together, it’s not enough to have these small individual programs that are working,” she said. “It’s important for everyone in a community to come together.”

The Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault most funds the training program. The program also received a $500 thousand appropriation grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance through U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski’s office last year. 

The Alaska Comprehensive Forensic Training Academy will visit Southeast Alaska communities the week of June 17. They’ll be at the Petersburg Public Library on Monday at 11:15 a.m., The Nolan Center in Wrangell on Tuesday at 11:30 a.m., Ketchikan Fire Hall on Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. and at PeaceHealth in Klawock at 10:00 a.m.