Hotline Basics & Volunteer Position Description

Hotline Overview
The Contact Hotline provides free, confidential, 24-hour support. It is for anyone who is depressed, in crisis, going through a hard time, thinking about suicide, or just needs to talk.

As a volunteer, you don’t have to be an expert, give advice, or fix problems. We’ll train you to respond to callers, regardless of their age, issue, or emotional state. Most calls are not suicide-related.

The Hotline receives around 65 calls per day. 20-25% of our daily calls come from individuals who have used our service for many years. A typical calls lasts between 10 and 15 minutes, unless the caller is in crisis. At least one staff person is in the office answering calls on other lines while a volunteer answers Hotline calls. All Hotline calls are answered at our office in East Syracuse, NY.

Hotline Volunteer Position Requirements
- Basic computer skills and the ability to talk on the phone.
- Commitment to 12 months of service.
- Serve on the Contact counseling line a minimum of 12 hours (3 shifts) each month for the first six months and 8 hours (2 shifts) each month for the remainder of my commitment. Exceptions may be made at the discretion of the Program Manager of Volunteer Relations.
- Hold in confidence all information pertaining to callers, other volunteers, and staff.  This pledge of confidentiality extends during and beyond affiliation with Contact.
- Participate in an annual consultation with staff. (Skills Assessment Interview)
- Attend two skills review sessions (Advanced Trainings) per year.
- Submit in writing to the Program Manager of Volunteer Relations a request for a leave of absence or resignation from Contact.
- Abide by Hotline and agency rules, policies and procedures.  These resources are reviewed during Basic Training and are available electronically and in writing.

Hotline Volunteer Basic Training Overview 
Our required 45 to 50-hour Hotline volunteer training instills active (or reflective) listening skills, teaches crisis and suicide risk assessment, and prepares volunteers for how to intervene in an emergency situation.  Components of Hotline training include:

Observation  Trainees are required to complete three observation shifts, during which he/she observes an experienced volunteer answer calls. They will then discuss the listening skills the trainer used. 

Self-guided modules and one-on-one mentoring
Self-guided modules  are comprised of readings, videos, audio recordings, and activities. Trainees meet one-on-one with a trainer to review content and to complete and role plays. Topics covered include:
- Active Listening skills
- Crisis and suicide risk assessment
- Active intervention for suicide
- Mental health awareness
- Policies and protocol for Hotline volunteers

Apprenticing  After completing observation and classes, trainees begin apprenticing shifts. An experienced peer trainer coaches and supports them as they answer Hotline calls. Most trainees complete four apprenticing shifts before they begin to take calls on their own.

Please complete the following online Contact Hotline Volunteer Training Application.  If you have any questions, do not hesitate to call or email. 
I look forward to chatting with you!

Kristine Knutson
Program Manager, Volunteer Relations
315.251.1400 x115