Wairarapa Victim Support volunteer, Jenny Tosswill, credits her 22 years’ work as a paramedic for her resilience and ability to work on some of Victim Support’s most traumatic cases. Her previous career was also what brought her to Victim Support 13 years ago.
“We carried the little yellow Victim Support cards in the ambulance, and I’d heard about what the organisation did. I thought when I retired from doing paid work, I’d like to volunteer to do something within the community. That’s what led to me joining Victim Support and it’s a decision I’ve never regretted.”
In her close-knit rural community, she’s worked on some tough cases. “I was very involved and one of the first on the scene for the Carterton balloon tragedy,” she says. “That one was very traumatic. We were there in the hours after the balloon had come down right through supporting people. I got a lot of personal satisfaction from it, though, and I’ve seen family members of people who died since and they still talk about the support that was given to them by Victim Support.
"I think because of my ambulance work I seem to cope with stuff like that pretty well. I've got a wonderfully supportive husband and family who have stood by me."
“One of the most tragic ones was supporting, very briefly, a honeymooning woman whose husband crashed his campervan and died. She had to organise to take him back to the States. It hit me hard that one, but I received a beautiful letter from her father about the support given.”
Jenny’s strong network of family and friends, alongside her paramedic experience, helps her to cope with the emotional impact of the cases she works on.
"I think because of my ambulance work I seem to cope with stuff like that pretty well. I've got a wonderfully supportive husband and family who have stood by me. They sometimes wonder why I do it! I get out in the garden. I'm very fortunate that I play sports, I have a lot of dear friends, and I’m in involved in other community organisations. I'm a busy person. I seem to be able to cope with it and have natural resilience, even though there are things that have made me have a bit of a weep in private.”
This innate ability to cope was one of the factors that led Jenny to volunteer to help with the response to the masjidain terror attacks in Christchurch, one of the most rewarding cases in her time at Victim Support. “I was just blown away by the wonderful Muslim families that I met and found it very humbling at times. There was no blame or animosity, and they were grateful for any small thing that we might have been able to do for them. It was very special. A dreadful time, obviously, but it’s a time I'll never forget.”
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Jenny Tosswill, a resilient Victim Support volunteer in the Wairarapa, draws on her paramedic experience to support traumatic cases at Victim Support.
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