Friday, July 12, 2024

B.C. sends mental health support workers for Fort McMurray families


B.C is lending a hand as emergency officials prepare to remove the evacuation order and allow families to return to their homes in Fort McMurray beginning June 1.

The Provincial Health Services Authority is sending 20 specially-trained volunteers from the Disaster Psychosocial Program, to provide mental health support to those facing the uncertain realities of returning home to their evacuated town.

The first deployment of ten volunteers leaves today and will be replaced by another shift of ten on June 6, and more will be available as needed.

“No one who sees a disaster is untouched by it – that’s our mantra,” said Heleen Sandvik, provincial lead of the Disaster Psychosocial Program (DPS).

“We provide the support system that helps people get back on their feet and move forward after the disaster. People and communities are resilient, but sometimes the added support is needed, particularly as the days after disaster stretch into weeks, and shock subsides into stress, or even trauma and grief from the event and feelings of loss or uncertainty.”

DPS began with the idea that professional registered therapists and other clinicians would consider volunteering their time, in the event of a large scale emergency or disaster, to respond to the psychosocial needs of the public and responders before, during and after an event.

Since 2012, DPS has trained more than 3,000 people, and last year alone, provided support to 20 separate events in B.C.

The latest deployment of social support staff augments a team of four sent by Emergency Management BC (EMBC) that already have boots on the ground in Alberta.

The team deployed last week from Victoria to Edmonton are helping augment the Alberta Recovery Task Force and setting the conditions for the planned re-entry and recovery phases.

Since the evacuation in Fort McMurray and sourrounding communities, B.C. has provided 155 firefighters, 44 support staff including an incident management team, 5 helicopters and 3 pieces of heavy equipment fighting the cross-border Siphon Creek fire, which is now 60% contained.

150 RCMP tactical troop and traffic service officers from throughout B.C. were temporarily redeployed to Northern Alberta at the request of the federal government.

For those who would like to contribute to the Canadian Red Cross campaign can do so by continuing to make a donation at a BC Liquor Store or by donating directly to the Canadian Red Cross: Call toll-free 1 800 418-1111 or donate online.

Victoria Buzz Staff
Your inside source for Greater Victoria happenings. Established in 2012.

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