Need a nurse, call SANE

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman DeAndre Curtiss
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs
Editor's note: April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This is part one of a three-part series on sexual assault and the options for victims.

Did you know 83 percent of sexual assault cases unreported? Sexual assault is a devastating and traumatic event that does not discriminate. The process of recovery is one that can be eased by seeking medical and mental help. The Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners office of Otero and Lincoln County, N.M., provides just that and more.

SANE is a group of registered nurses who perform examinations and evidence collection for sexual assault victims.

"As nurses we came together in the early 1970s to address sexual assault," said Celeste Siebel, sexual assault nurse examiner. "We are specialized nurses that have extensive training in sexual assault and the injuries that happen as result of it."

The SANE is a first responder that treats a victim is wounds, provides medication and performs pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection tests. They also asses the degree of the victim's injuries and do evidence collection. The SANE needs informed consent from the sexual assault patient to perform these exams. The patient must be able to understand, agree and sign for each part of the exam. The only exceptions to this requirement are in the cases of child abuse, mentally challenged patients, or abuse of the elderly.

Sexual assault examiners recommend victims have an exam done sooner rather than later. Exams should be done within five days of the assault for victims 13 years of age and older, or within three days of the assault for victims 12 years old and younger.

"My advice is always to do a forensic exam, because it's the beginning of the process to heal," said Siebel. "Even if you don't report it right away, you can always change your mind and we will have the evidence here."

SANE not only works with residents of Otero and Lincoln County, but also with military personnel from Holloman AFB and White Sands Missile Range. The Holloman AFB Sexual Assault Resource Coordinator office partners with SANE and other organizations to help victims with the sexual assault reporting process.

"There are many people walking around who have never received help at all," said Siebel. "There can be so many parts of your life that can be affected by sexual assault. It changes you and that's why it's so important for you to take back some control right away and report it."

For more information on SANE, or for help, contact them at (575) 430-9485, or the Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center Emergency Department at (575) 443-7901.

**Victims are always urged to contact the SARC at 527-6789, prior to notifying other agencies, in order to have the option of a restricted report.