Rape kits’ now available in Vanderhoof

After months of campaigning from various groups in town, “rape kits” have finally arrived in Vanderhoof.

After months of campaigning from various groups in town, “rape kits” have finally arrived in Vanderhoof.

The kits contain a set of items used by medical staff for gathering physical evidence following a sexual assault which can then be used in a rape investigation.

Up until very recently, victims of sexual assault had to travel to Prince George for evidence collection if they wanted to press charges against their attacker.

A number of people in the community have been involved with bringing the service to Vanderhoof including Public Health, the RCMP, Omineca Safe Home, and a number of doctors and nurses from St. John Hospital.

Cpl. Tony Hanson from the Vanderhoof RCMP started the ball rolling last year when he noticed the rape kits were not available in town.

“When I arrived here I noted fairly quickly that the physicians in town were not performing the sexual assault kits and that we had to transport any victim of sexual assault who wanted a kit done into Prince George,” said Hanson.

“That was problematic for many reasons …one in terms of from a public health perspective, and from a logistical perspective on our behalf because we have to send at least one police officer all the way into Prince George and by the time everything is done you are looking at about six hours out of the day,” he said.

Together with Sylvia Byron from the Omineca Safe Home, Hanson started reaching out to Northern Health on the topic at the end of last summer.

A number of meetings were held since then with hospital and public health staff to work through different obstacles and concerns.

The main obstacle preventing staff from carrying out the rape kits was never the collection of the data, but the storage of the evidence…

“We understood and had been told that after doing the rape kit we then had to store the evidence in a special fridge and certain people have to have keys  because its potential evidence so you have to prove that no one has had access to it or tampered with it….and our lab wasn’t set up to do that,” said Dr. Suzanne Campbell, a physician at St. John Hospital.

“But now we’ve been made aware that all we have to do is collect the evidence and hand it over to the RCMP and they do all of the rest,” she said.

In March a final meeting was held and members of the Prince George sex crimes unit attended to show the physicians in Vanderhoof how to use the kits.

“At that time the physicians basically made the unanimous decision that they would undertake to do the kits in the community as long as police were involved,” said Hanson.

The first kit was carried out in March this year.

Campbell hopes that more people will pursue the avenue of prosecuting a sexual attacker now that the service is available in town.

She added however, that even if a victim does not want to press charges, it is still important to seek medical attention.

“When somebody has been sexually assaulted they need to come and see the medical community,” said Campbell.

“Because whether or not you want to pursue a charge and whether or not you want evidence collected there’s the morning after pill for pregnancy and there’s sexually transmitted  diseases to think about.

“We do an assessment for  the risk of HIV and we have access to tests and medication to decrease the risk after possible exposure,” she said.

Options for medical care and support in town include the hospital, the Omineca Safe Home and Public Health.

Byron stressed that even if a victim doesn’t want medical attention, the Omineca Safe Home provides a network of support for women.

“We want to make it really clear that if you don’t want to press charges you still will get support from the doctors and if you don’t want to see a doctor you can still get support from the Omineca Safe Home,” said Byron.


“We really want to get the word out that if you’ve been assaulted you have the right to both emotional and physical support,” she said.



Just Posted

Northwest mobile unit to help those at heart of mental health, addiction crisis

Province, Northern Health unveils new unit in Terrace to bridge gaps in services

Photos: Vanderhoof jives to tunes played by the NVSS jazz band

Funds raised will help the school jazz band to attend a festival in Whistler

Saik’uz resident urges other indigenous students to apply for award

Irving K Barber scholarship deadline is March 31st

B.C. minister says rural internet is ‘railroad of the 21st century’

Jinny Sims talks details about the $50-million provincial and possible $750-million federal funds

Sparks fly as SUV speeds down wrong side of Highway 1 trying to flee RCMP

Captured on video, the vehicle headed westbound against oncoming traffic before crashing

Fundraising campaign launched for man caught in SilverStar avalanche

In only two days, the GoFundMe surpassed its $15,000 goal

Terror at sea: Helicopter rescues frightened cruise passengers in Norway

The Viking Sky cruise ship was carrying 1,300 passengers and crew when it experienced engine trouble

Search and rescue team helicopters injured climber from B.C. provincial park

A 30-year-old woman suffered a suspected lower-limb fracture in Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park

DOJ: Trump campaign did not co-ordinate with Russia in 2016

Attorney General William Barr said special counsel “does not exonerate” Trump of obstructing justice

Trudeau in Vancouver to support Tamara Taggart at Liberal nomination event

The former broadcaster is seeking the nomination for the Vancouver Kingsway riding

Trudeau calls May 6 byelection for B.C. riding of Nanaimo-Ladysmith

The riding opened up when Sheila Malcolmson resigned in January

B.C. VIEWS: The hijacking of our education system gathers speed

Children taught to strike and shout fringe far-left demands

Judges on Twitter? Ethical guidance for those on the bench under review

Canadian judges involvement in community life are among issues under review

Most Read