Considering the trauma which a great many individuals, families, businesses and organizations have experienced over past weeks owing to massive forest fires, I recently spoke with a representative of BC’s emergency social services program. I wished to become better acquainted with this important group’s resources which might in future need to be called into play at some point locally.
Emergency Social Services (ESS) is a program which provides short-term disaster relief right across the province including those of us who reside within the Nakusp region. In the event of our village experiencing floods, earthquakes, forest fires or any number of natural diasters which may create an emergency, we are told that community volunteers are called upon to both plan and provide for the essential needs of individuals, families and also response workers.
Examples of the help provided by ESS-associated representatives includes provision and/or preparation of food intended for both humans and animals as well as lodging, clothing, emotional support and of particular importance, assistance in locating loved ones.
A majority of BC communities have an ESS team which develops liaisons with community businesses with all parties expressing their willingness to share their resources during troubled times. The task of planning for disasters requires both energy and creativity, and depends very much on the dedication of many volunteers.
The well-trained local team which is professionally organized and guided by Terry Warren suggests that persons interested in becoming involved should have good communication skills, are concerned for persons who could potentially be affected by disaster, and who wish to provide help.
No specific skills are required, however, practical skills such as volunteer management, interviewing as well as the ability to respond on short notice would be important. Volunteer applicants must also be in good health, which speaks to the ability of older, but still active, senior citizens. They also should possess a sense of adventure. Vital is the recognition of the importance of being part of a team which lends a shoulder to help ease the burden being faced by those who, owing to disaster, could be forced from their homes.
In addition to a wide range of training opportunities, all ESS volunteers who are viewed as “the heart of disaster response” receive Workers’ Compensation Board and liability insurance coverage while on assignment. More volunteers are always needed and welcomed we are reminded, and working together in this field challenges volunteers to stretch their own limits and potential. Several team volunteer vacancies currently exist, so all who are interested in providing support to our communities, are urged to respond.
Volunteer application forms may be picked up at the village office, or from Terry Warren, the local ESS coordinator who oversees activities within three of the Nakusp Region communities. Terry’s office is located within the new firehall across from the secondary school playground.