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Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Program

Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs) are registered nurses who have completed specialized education and clinical preparation in medical forensic care for patients who have experienced sexual assault or abuse. Delivered through contracted service providers, on-call SANE nurses provide immediate care within seven days of a sexual assault to people who would like supportive care, including medical attention, information about resources, as well as the option to have forensic evidence collected.

Note: prepubescent medical forensic SANE response may be provided within three days of suspected sexual abuse, in collaboration with the IWK team. Contact the Avalon SANE Program, the IWK Suspected Trauma and Abuse Response Team (START) or IWK emergency department for more information, including response information.

The SANE program provides response, 24 hours a day, seven days a week and offers the following options:

  • Supportive Care
  • Medical examination
  • Forensic examination
  • Expert testimony in a court of law, if requested by the court
  • Collection and storage of forensic evidence (up to six months) if the victim/survivor is unable or not ready to proceed with a police investigation immediately but would like to consider the option to do so later
  • Follow-up instructions
  • Telephone response line for immediate sexual assault information and support (24 hours a day, 365 days a year)
  • Information about community resources for help with aftercare

Jump to:  Accessing this service

What is the medical examination?

The medical examination conducted by a SANE may involve:

  • Taking a medical history
  • Medical treatment for physical injury as well as options to take antibiotics (to help prevent Sexually Transmitted Infections [STIs]), emergency contraception pills (aka “the morning after pill”) to help prevent a pregnancy from starting), and HIV nPEP pills (only if indicated) to help prevent HIV which cause AIDS.
  • A general physical exam
  • Collecting and documenting details of the assault/abuse to help identify potential infections, injuries and/or treatment required
  • Taking blood and urine samples to test for pregnancy and/or infections (follow-up testing may also be recommended)
  • An internal exam may also by performed at this time

The victim/survivor can stop or opt out of parts the medical or forensic examinations at any time.

What is a forensic examination?

A forensic examination may be conducted if the victim/survivorchooses, within seven days following an assault.

The purpose of the forensic exam is to look for and collect possible evidence based on the victim/survivor’s story and evidence found/seen on the body.  SANEs have special tools to help see evidence that can not be seen with the naked eye. The evidence is analyzed by specially trained forensic lab experts once the client chooses to involve the police and have an investigation started.

It is preferable, but not mandatory, for the victim/survivor not to shower, bathe, douche, use the washroom, change clothes, eat/drink, or clean teeth until the time of the exam to maintain any potential evidence, should the person choose this option. However, evidence collection is still possible following these activities and should not deter anyone from seeking this option. Bringing a change of clothing to the hospital and/or the clothing worn at the time of the assault (including underwear worn during andafter the assault)may be beneficial, in caseclothing collection is recommended as part of the evidence collection procedure

  • A forensic examination conducted by a SANE may involve:
  • Collecting clothing for evidence
  • A head to toe visual exam
  • Taking photographs of injuries
  • Taking swabs from different areas of the body for possible evidence
  • Collecting blood and/or urine samples for toxicology

This process may take about two hours to complete. Only the SANE's need to be present during this exam. Other emergency department personnel will be involved only as necessary (during triage/admission, for special tests which may be required, etc) although usually brief and not generally for the exam itself. The victim/survivor may have a support person with them as well (i.e. a friend or advocate). The police are not present during the exam.

The victim/survivor can stop or opt out of parts the medical or forensic examinations at any time.

What happens to the evidence collected by the SANE at the examination?

It is up to the victim/survivor to decide what they want to do with forensic evidence. There are two options:

  1. Immediately report the assault to the police. If the victim/survivor chooses this, the police will be notified and forensic evidence will be handed over to them at that time.
  2. Have the forensic evidence collected and stored by the SANE Program for up to six months. If the victim/survivor is undecided about filing a report with the police, they can still have a forensic examination to collect evidence.  If the victim/survivor decides to report the sexual assault within the six month period, they will need to contact the SANE program and provide consent to do so. The SANE coordinator will then transfer the forensic evidence to police and police will continue with the investigation.

Learn more

The Nova Scotia Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Program is a community-based model, with contracted SANE services provided through the following SANE Partners:

Accessing this Clinic, Program or Service

SANE services are supportive, nonjudgmental and confidential. SANE care can be provided to you by doing one of the following:

  • Go to any open emergency department. At those centres where SANE Program response is provided, the staff will call the SANE. At other locations, staff will coordinate care or provide information regarding nearest SANE response site.
  • Call local police or RCMP
  • Through your primary health care provider
  • Call the SANE 24 hour response line for this area at 1-877-880-SANE (7263)

SANE services are supportive, nonjudgmental and confidential. SANE care can be provided to you by doing one of the following:

  • Go to any open emergency department. At those centres where SANE Program response is provided, the staff will call the SANE. At other locations, staff will coordinate care or provide information regarding nearest SANE response site.
  • Call local police or RCMP
  • Through your primary health care provider
  • Call the SANE 24 hour response line for this area at 1-844-858-8036

SANE services are supportive, nonjudgmental and confidential. SANE care can be provided to you by doing one of the following:

  • Go to any open emergency department. At those centres where SANE Program response is provided, the staff will call the SANE. At other locations, staff will coordinate care or provide information regarding nearest SANE response site.
  • Call local police or RCMP
  • Through your primary health care provider
  • Call the SANE 24 hour response line for this area at 902-425-0122

SANE services are supportive, nonjudgmental and confidential. SANE care can be provided to you by doing one of the following:

  • Go to any open emergency department. At those centres where SANE Program response is provided, the staff will call the SANE. At other locations, staff will coordinate care or provide information regarding nearest SANE response site.
  • Call local police or RCMP
  • Through your primary health care provider
  • Call the SANE 24 hour response line for this area at 1-833-757-SANE (7263)

SANE services are supportive, nonjudgmental and confidential. SANE care can be provided to you by doing one of the following:

  • Go to any open emergency department. At those centres where SANE Program response is provided, the staff will call the SANE. At other locations, staff will coordinate care or provide information regarding nearest SANE response site.
  • Call local police or RCMP
  • Through your primary health care provider
  • Call the SANE 24 hour response line for this area at 1-833-757-SANE (7263)

SANE services are supportive, nonjudgmental and confidential. SANE care can be provided to you by doing one of the following:

  • Go to any open emergency department. At those centres where SANE Program response is provided, the staff will call the SANE. At other locations, staff will coordinate care or provide information regarding nearest SANE response site.
  • Call local police or RCMP
  • Through your primary health care provider
  • Call the SANE 24 hour response line for this area at 902-425-0122

SANE services are supportive, nonjudgmental and confidential. SANE care can be provided to you by doing one of the following:

  • Go to any open emergency department. At those centres where SANE Program response is provided, the staff will call the SANE. At other locations, staff will coordinate care or provide information regarding nearest SANE response site.
  • Call local police or RCMP
  • Through your primary health care provider
  • Call the SANE 24 hour response line for this area at 1-833-577-SANE (7263)

SANE services are supportive, nonjudgmental and confidential. SANE care can be provided to you by doing one of the following:

  • Go to any open emergency department. At those centres where SANE Program response is provided, the staff will call the SANE. At other locations, staff will coordinate care or provide information regarding nearest SANE response site.
  • Call local police or RCMP
  • Through your primary health care provider
  • Call the SANE 24 hour response line for this area at 1-833-577-SANE (7263)

SANE services are supportive, nonjudgmental and confidential. SANE care can be provided to you by doing one of the following:

  • Go to any open emergency department. At those centres where SANE Program response is provided, the staff will call the SANE. At other locations, staff will coordinate care or provide information regarding nearest SANE response site.
  • Call local police or RCMP
  • Through your primary health care provider
  • Call the SANE 24 hour response line for this area at 1-877-880-SANE (7263)

SANE services are supportive, nonjudgmental and confidential. SANE care can be provided to you by doing one of the following:

  • Go to any open emergency department. At those centres where SANE Program response is provided, the staff will call the SANE. At other locations, staff will coordinate care or provide information regarding nearest SANE response site.
  • Call local police or RCMP
  • Through your primary health care provider
  • Call the SANE 24 hour response line for this area at 902-425-0122

IWK Health Centre (Halifax)
5980 University Ave (Emergency Entrance is on the South Street Side)

SANE 24 hour response line: 902-425-0122
OR contact:
IWK Suspected Trauma and Abuse Response Team (START):
During regular office hours: 902-470-8222
After office hours: 902-470-8888
Urgent, after-hour START referrals:
IWK Emergency Department 902-470-8050

Lindsay’s Health Centre for Women (Antigonish)
204 Kirk Place, 219 Main Street

SANE 24 hour response line: 1-877-880-SANE (7263)

SANE services are supportive, nonjudgmental and confidential. SANE care can be provided to you by doing one of the following:

  • Go to any open emergency department. At those centres where SANE Program response is provided, the staff will call the SANE. At other locations, staff will coordinate care or provide information regarding nearest SANE response site.
  • Call local police or RCMP
  • Through your primary health care provider
  • Call the SANE 24 hour response line for this area at 1-833-757-SANE (7263)

SANE services are supportive, nonjudgmental and confidential. SANE care can be provided to you by doing one of the following:

  • Go to any open emergency department. At those centres where SANE Program response is provided, the staff will call the SANE. At other locations, staff will coordinate care or provide information regarding nearest SANE response site.
  • Call local police or RCMP
  • Through your primary health care provider
  • Call the SANE 24 hour response line for this area at 1-833-577-SANE (7263)

SANE 24 hour response line: 1-833-577-SANE (7263)

SANE services are supportive, nonjudgmental and confidential. SANE care can be provided to you by doing one of the following:

  • Go to any open emergency department. At those centres where SANE Program response is provided, the staff will call the SANE. At other locations, staff will coordinate care or provide information regarding nearest SANE response site.
  • Call local police or RCMP
  • Through your primary health care provider
  • Call the SANE 24 hour response line for this area at 1-877-880-SANE (7263)

SANE services are supportive, nonjudgmental and confidential. SANE care can be provided to you by doing one of the following:

  • Go to any open emergency department. At those centres where SANE Program response is provided, the staff will call the SANE. At other locations, staff will coordinate care or provide information regarding nearest SANE response site.
  • Call local police or RCMP
  • Through your primary health care provider
  • Call the SANE 24 hour response line for this area at 1-833-577-SANE (7263)

SANE services are supportive, nonjudgmental and confidential. SANE care can be provided to you by doing one of the following:

  • Go to any open emergency department. At those centres where SANE Program response is provided, the staff will call the SANE. At other locations, staff will coordinate care or provide information regarding nearest SANE response site.
  • Call local police or RCMP
  • Through your primary health care provider
  • Call the SANE 24 hour response line for this area at 1-877-880-SANE (7263)

SANE services are supportive, nonjudgmental and confidential. SANE care can be provided to you by doing one of the following:

  • Go to any open emergency department. At those centres where SANE Program response is provided, the staff will call the SANE. At other locations, staff will coordinate care or provide information regarding nearest SANE response site.
  • Call local police or RCMP
  • Through your primary health care provider
  • Call the SANE 24 hour response line for this area at 1-877-880-SANE (7263)

SANE services are supportive, nonjudgmental and confidential. SANE care can be provided to you by doing one of the following:

  • Go to any open emergency department. At those centres where SANE Program response is provided, the staff will call the SANE. At other locations, staff will coordinate care or provide information regarding nearest SANE response site.
  • Call local police or RCMP
  • Through your primary health care provider
  • Call the SANE 24 hour response line for this area at 1-833-577-SANE (7263)

SANE services are supportive, nonjudgmental and confidential. SANE care can be provided to you by doing one of the following:

  • Go to any open emergency department. At those centres where SANE Program response is provided, the staff will call the SANE. At other locations, staff will coordinate care or provide information regarding nearest SANE response site.
  • Call local police or RCMP
  • Through your primary health care provider
  • Call the SANE 24 hour response line for this area at 1-844-858-8036

SANE services are supportive, nonjudgmental and confidential. SANE care can be provided to you by doing one of the following:

  • Go to any open emergency department. At those centres where SANE Program response is provided, the staff will call the SANE. At other locations, staff will coordinate care or provide information regarding nearest SANE response site.
  • Call local police or RCMP
  • Through your primary health care provider
  • Call the SANE 24 hour response line for this area at 1-833-577-SANE (7263)

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