Gateway Gazette

Workshop Highlights Value of Volunteers in Crisis Response

 

Volunteers being invited to add their knowledge during a meteorite disaster workshop

HIGH RIVER, AB:  High River’s Emergency Management team is continuing to show its innovation and thought leadership with an upcoming interactive workshop that puts the spotlight on volunteer resources during a crisis.  A meteorite strike in High River will serve as the mock disaster for this educational and fun workshop where members of the public will get to learn how they can be most helpful during a crisis.

“This will be a fun learning experience and a great networking opportunity for everyone involved,” says Carly Benson, interim director of emergency management with the Town. “Volunteers are invited to come play, learn, connect with their community and help shape the future of emergency management in High River.”

Approximately 30 volunteers are needed for the two-day workshop that will be held at the Field House inside the Bob Snodgrass Recreation Complex on September 29 and 30. Each participant will be assigned different roles during a disaster simulation to better understand the complexities of the issue and then work in small teams to brainstorm creative ways to incorporate volunteers into an effective response and recovery.

“The Town recognizes the incredible value volunteers can bring to disaster recovery and also that they aren’t always used effectively. We want to create a framework for how to match volunteer skills with community needs in a way that also ensures the safety of everyone involved,” explains Benson.

The Town has partnered with the Field Innovation Team (FIT), an internationally recognized disaster response organization that is highly experienced in creating interactive and engaging workshops that provide practical solutions and strategies to improve crisis response.

“We are looking forward to working with residents and first responders in High River to help them achieve a positive, beneficial working relationship between volunteers and official agencies in responding to a crisis,” says Desiree Matel-Anderson, Chief Wrangler with FIT.

Volunteers bring a wealth of valuable resources to emergency response and this workshop will explore the best way these can be utilized. This is a challenge that official agencies experience throughout the world and the goal is to develop clear strategies that will build positive and effective relationships between official responders and regular citizens who want to help.

During the second day the original disaster simulation will be run again but this time incorporating the solutions gained through the shared input of responders and volunteer participants. The framework that works the best will be added to the Town’s Emergency Management Plan and shared with other municipalities.

“We hope to continue being an industry leader and be able to share our findings with other municipalities, setting an example across the province and even nationally,” says Benson.

If you are interested in registering as a volunteer for the workshop, please contact Megan Correia at mcorreia@highriver.ca , click here to register online, or visit the emergency management team at High River’s Fall Registration Round up on September 10.

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