Sexual assault care facility to be established in West Alabama


CW File

Ben Stansell

Steps are currently being taken to bring a Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (SAFE) program and facility to West Alabama, according to a statement released from the University of Alabama on Wednesday. 

The SAFE program will look to serve the emotional, medical and forensic needs of sexual assault survivors in the region. Retired University of Alabama administrator Dr. Kathleen Cramer has been selected to lead efforts to launch the SAFE program, which will be a non-profit organization overseen by a volunteer board of directors. 

A broad range of care options, including medical care, follow-up counseling, specialized therapy and information about reporting options, will be provided to sexual assault survivors by nurses certified by the SAFE organization. 

To be SAFE certified, nurses must complete 40 hours of classroom training and additional hours of clinical training. Around 17 DCH Emergency Department nurses are currently taking SAFE classroom training, which they are expected to complete by October.  

Care will be administered in a stand-alone, centrally located facility that has yet to be determined. Until the stand-alone facility opens later this fall, sexual assault survivors will continue to be treated at the DCH Regional Medical Center Emergency Department. 

The SAFE program is a collaborative, community-based effort of large proportions. Partners of the SAFE program include DCH Health Care System, the DCH Foundation, the University of Alabama, the District Attorney’s Office and local law enforcement groups along with city and county leadership. 

“The University of Alabama is proud to support the ongoing effort to establish a SAFE program serving the West Alabama region, including the Tuscaloosa area,” said UA President Stuart Bell. “These efforts, which began last fall, will provide community-based service to enhance the resources available to those within our local and campus communities.”

According to Ross D’Entremont, SGA’s vice president of academic affairs and the middle-man between the SGA executive council and members of the community throughout the creation of SAFE, the program will radically change the conversation about sexual assault on Alabama’s campus.

“The SAFE program means that no longer are we going to be having a conversation about why something happened,” D’entremont said. “The conversation needs to turn to what we can do. What this program means is that we can answer the question for the future, because we can say that we have this sexual assault forensic program now.”