Red Cross seeks Trail volunteers for disaster response

Open house today at 3 p.m. at Selkirk College campus.

The Canadian Red Cross is looking for Trail volunteers for its Disaster Management Program.

Volunteers would respond to a fire, a flood, or other personal disaster, to lend a hand to those affected by the disaster. Currently, the program is recruiting some Personal Disaster Assistant Team volunteers for the area through an open house today at 3 p.m. at Trail’s Selkirk College campus.

The event is for those who are interested in lending their time and expertise to the team.

There are two different categories the Red Cross covers when it comes to assisting with a local disaster: relief and recovery. Both are taught in the training courses offered to volunteers.

“One course teaches how to provide relief, which covers immediate needs after the disaster and then there is recovery, which starts three days after the event,” said Mary Nishio, a member of the Nelson Disaster Management team.

“If you think of the High River floods (in 2013), the relief part was immediately giving people shelter, warm clothing and food. After that, it is all about the recovery – helping people to start getting their life back on track. We try to provide the basics: things like a stove, a fridge – it just depends on the need of the situation.”

Nishio says a position on the Disaster Management team can fit in with anyone’s experience. There is always something someone can do.

“I am 65, I am still healthy and I am a retired psychologist,” said Nishio. “I have many years of experience in many different areas. I see it as recycling my skills.

“We have doctors, retired nurses, retired EMS (workers), but you don’t have to (have medical training). We also have teachers and more. It is a wide variety of people. It is a wonderful group of all ages and experience.”

Joanne Caldecott is also a Disaster Management volunteer and joined the organization just after the Kerr Apartment fire in Nelson in January 2011.

“It was in early 2011 when I came on board, following the Kerr Apartment Fire and the first day I was in Nelson (in 2010), the Redfish Grill burned down and I wasn’t expecting a fire every other month,” she said, adding that seeing Nelson come together after the two disasters is part of what made her want to join the Red Cross as a volunteer.

“I was so impressed with the way the community rallied together and I wanted to be able to play a part in a meaningful way and it really spurred my interest.”

Caldecott says fitting the volunteer and training time into her hectic daily life is easy because of the nature of the work she does and the lesson it can teach her kids.

“For me, the Red Cross values are values that you can integrate into your daily life and as a parent, you really want to integrate those values into your children’s life,” she said.

“I hope that when the time comes for my children to look into volunteer opportunities, the Red Cross is something that they would want to step into.

“I do believe in philanthropy being a key part of our lives and really encourage my kids to play a role in our community and get out there.”

Nishio says that anyone can join up and keep their work local, or travel across the country to lend a hand. For example, the Nelson team had members in High River, Alberta during the June 2013 floods.

“Our volunteers are trained to respond locally, within B.C. or even across Canada,” she said. “Some only respond to personal disasters in their own community, especially volunteers with small kids at home, but being a Red Cross volunteer lasts a lifetime. When we see someone who needs help, we step in.”

The Canadian Red Cross will be in Trail for the open house to answer questions anyone may have about joining the organization and the type of the volunteer work and training involved.

The event runs from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at 900 Helena Street in the Red Cross Room at Selkirk College’s Trail campus.