And after 80 hours of forensic evidence and medical training classes, Nabors has all the skills she needs to help victims of sexual assault and assist law enforcement in prosecution of crimes.
Nabors is one of five nurses specially trained to use RMC’s Sexual Assault Nursing Examiner room, or SANE, which the Anniston hospital unveiled Tuesday after more than a year of effort. Forensic nurses from the Alabama Department of Forensic Science came to RMC during a period of several months to teach and certify the nurses at the hospital who volunteered for the SANE program.
“Ever since I started working here, I’ve seen so many people in need of this,” Nabors said of the SANE room.
The room is one of only a handful in the state, with the closest one located in Birmingham, said Edith Trammell, nurse manager for the emergency room at RMC. Though the SANE room is small side, it is isolated from the activity of the main emergency room, which is one of its big benefits, Trammell said.
“Why we chose this room is to keep them away from the main ER but still to keep them still in the ER proper because sometimes they need treatment as well,” Trammell said.
The room comes with a special bed designed to make it easier to collect forensic evidence. The room is also stocked with supplies and forensic rape kits provided by the Alabama Department of Public Health.
Trammell said RMC has assisted local law enforcement many times in collecting forensic evidence from sexually abused women. However, the SANE room will make the process more efficient, she said.
“We have always felt we needed to be more precise when doing these exams and processing the evidence,” Trammell said. “A year from now when some of these cases are being prosecuted, whatever is in that kit may make the difference in the case.”
Registered nurse Kala Mercer, who also volunteered for the SANE training, said working in the room with a sexual abuse victim is a several-hours-long process.
“The sexual assault kits have to stay in the room with the patient at all times,” Mercer said. “You have to call the police and sign the kit in and create a chain of custody and it never leaves our sight.”
“It’s going to be a very effective tool, I believe,” said Calhoun County Sheriff Larry Amerson. “If the victim is not treated well, then they are much less likely to participate in prosecuting the offender.”
Jennifer Weems, a Calhoun County assistant district attorney, also said the room would be a great benefit.
“I think it will assist in more successful prosecutions because the nurses are specifically and forensically trained in evidence collection,” Weems said. “We have convicted sexual abusers without a SANE room but I think the room will make it a more comfortable experience for the victims.”
Trace Fleming-Smith, coordinator with 2nd Chance, which provides shelter and support for victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence in Anniston, said the room would help victims considerably.
“This is something so powerful and so amazing to see … it’s going to be a huge benefit for victims,” Fleming-Smith said. “With this the whole process is streamlined. It minimizes the trauma to the victims.”
Staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star