Langford Emergency Support Services marks its 25th anniversary this year.(Langford Emergency Support Services/Facebook)

Langford Emergency Support Services celebrates 25 years of community service

Group began in 1996 and was timely as a massive blizzard hit the region

They are there for you when you least expect that you’ll need their help the most.

With Langford Emergency Support Services marking its 25th anniversary this year, the fact that some of the volunteers have been with the organization since the beginning speaks to the level of dedication they bring to their work.

The group began in 1996 and was timely as a massive blizzard hit the region that year, said Anne Trick, director of Langford ESS and a 17-year volunteer. “That was the first thing the team responded to.”

Bev Wilson, the first director, husband and wife Roger and Noreen Ritchot, and Jean Lystar have all been with Langford ESS since Day One.

“Having that kind of continuity has been instrumental,” said Langford Fire Rescue Chief Chris Aubrey. “Having that kind of experience to draw from is a great asset for new volunteers.”

Although the first meeting only drew four people, the numbers have gone up to as many as 100, with the present total at 45.

“We provide B.C. government-sponsored services to address the needs of evacuees dealing with house fires and floods (and other disasters). We respond whenever Langford Fire Rescue gives us a call,” Trick explained.

Langford ESS provides food, clothing, accommodations and pet care for those who need it, for up to 72 hours on average.

The team also provides mutual aid in other parts of the province when required.

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“The volunteers are your friends and neighbours,” Trick noted. “The initial attitude is that we all feel a need to provide support to the community. We become a co-operative team of people with the same goal, and that’s rewarding. As a team, we have good partners like the city, local hotels, the RCMP and the Legion, and lots of silent partners as well.”

Volunteers are asked to take free courses through the Justice Institute of B.C. for exercises and practices on establishing an emergency reception centre to get them more comfortable with the training.

“We do things to make it fun,” Trick said. “We did an exercise with a local doggy daycare centre where we evacuated the staff and critters to the Legion, where we were joined by residents from Alexander Mackie.”

The residents thoroughly enjoyed the attention they received from their canine visitors, she added.

“Volunteers like that kind of exercise that’s a little different,” she said. “As a result, a group of people formed a pet support team. A lot of people don’t realize it’s not just people we help, it’s families, and that includes pets.”

Aubrey said it’s great to know that whenever they respond to a house fire, the ESS team is there to provide for the family.

“They are the unsung heroes for the last 25 years,” Aubrey said. “The fire department couldn’t do the work we do without them. We’re very proud of what they accomplished, and we’re looking forward to many more years.”

Langford ESS is always on the lookout for volunteers. Email ess@langford.ca for more information, and check out langford.ca/EN/meta/departments/fire-department/services/emergency-social-services for more on the work they do.

rick.stiebel@goldstream

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