May 7 to 13 marks Public Safety Canada's Emergency Preparedness Week. For 100 years, The Salvation Army has been providing relief in disasters and responding to the needs of survivors and first responders. Being prepared to take action on a moment's notice, or Mobilize, was the theme of this year's training conference for The Salvation Army's Emergency Disaster Services.
Over 130 Salvation Army personnel from across Canada gathered in Halifax, April 20 to 22, to take part in three days of education on crisis intervention, disaster relief, spiritual care, best practices, disaster response, and more. The conference was presented by Perron Goodyear, Territorial Emergency Disaster Services Director for The Salvation Army in Canada.
"For one-hundred years, The Salvation Army in Canada has been responding to emergencies and disasters, providing vital support to those who have been impacted. Whether it's a small local event or a national disaster, the preparation, presence and support of our Emergency Disaster Services is expected," say Goodyear.
The Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Services began in Canada in the wake of the Halifax Explosion in 1917. Since then, the EDS team has mobilized to assist with disasters across the country. The Maritime Division's EDS unit most recently provided support to Sydney residents during winter flooding, as well as to Bathurst residents during the ice storm that caused over 100,000 power outages. National relief and support was also provided to those impacted by the catastrophic wildfires that raged through Fort McMurray, Alberta one year ago.
"Over the years, our response efforts, and the emergency management profession, have evolved, but the motivation remains the same – giving hope even in the midst of disaster," says Goodyear.
Working closely with police, fire services, and other relief organizations allow us to respond quickly to the needs of the community. Whether it be providing food and hot drinks onsite or preparing to re-locate survivors of a disaster, on-going skill training are essential to serving a community in distress and providing a sense of calm in the swirl of chaos.
“It’s so important to continually refresh our emergency response skills to ensure we are prepared to serve and help our communities when disaster strikes,” says Shannon Wise, Public Relations Representative, Ontario Great Lakes Division. “I really benefitted from collaborating with my colleagues as we discussed new opportunities for the role of public information during an emergency or disaster.”