The Canadian Red Cross is looking for people to be either personal disaster assistance volunteers or emergency response team volunteers.
With that in mind, Red Cross, Slave Lake FCSS and fire services held a disaster management volunteer information night in town on Feb. 22 at the Lesser Slave Fire Hall. Disaster management co-ordinator Vishva Ragunathan says this event was planned for quite some time. He wishes that there would have been more people but says there were a few people that came out.
Red Cross is looking for more volunteers because the organization only has two active and operational volunteers in the area. After the information night there could be a few more. Ragunathan did not say how many more volunteers there would be but he did say he will be following up with the applicants soon.
“There is a dire need for more disaster management volunteers in the region and across Canada,” Ragunathan says.
As for what the volunteers would be doing, Ragunathan says there are two positions: the personal disaster assistance volunteers and emergency response team volunteers.
The assistance volunteers will be on call 24 hours and seven days a week. They will be on call with partners and work is shared among members. Their role will be to help people who face a personal disaster, such as a basement flood or a house fire.
The volunteer would go and meet the person who needs help and do a needs assessment.
From there, 72 hours’ worth of aid will be provided based on need. It can include food, clothing and shelter. As for the response team volunteers, they will have to deal with all disaster management training, plus be on call for the large-scale disasters.
“When a major disaster happens, we put out a call to volunteers and if they are available, they will come and respond,” Ragunathan says.
Responding to a major disaster can take someone across the province or even across the country, depending on the severity.
Although the information night is over, if you are interested in volunteering with the Red Cross you can still apply. Volunteers must be 18 years or older and pass a vulnerable sector check with RCMP. If you are interested in volunteering, you can do so by visiting the Red Cross website at redcross.ca/volunteers.
Ragunathan says that Red Cross would not be able to help anyone without their community partners. These include Slave Lake FCSS and fire services.