Renfrew County Red Cross recruiting Emergency Response volunteers
The Renfrew County division of the Canadian Red Cross is actively seeking volunteers for their Emergency Response Team (ERT). The volunteers will assist with disaster relief in Renfrew County and elsewhere in Canada should a major disaster occur. Pictured here (left to right) is Renfrew County Red Cross disaster management advisor James Sedgewick along with local ERT volunteer Orshy Bartlett.
The Renfrew County division of the Canadian Red Cross is actively recruiting volunteers for their Emergency Response Team (ERT).
The role of ERT volunteers is to remain on-call in order to assist emergency personnel by providing necessary support and social services – including food, clothing and lodging – to victims of fires, floods and other disasters.
Since December, the volunteers have assisted with nine local incidents – the majority of which were evacuations due to house fires. The volunteers provided emergency lodging and other support services to the families affected by the incidents.
Local volunteer Orshy Bartlett joined the ERT team three years ago in an effort to give back to her community and to Canada.
“I’m an immigrant, so I’m very happy to live here in Canada and I want to give back what Canada gave me – so I do that by volunteering a lot with organizations like the Red Cross,” said Barlett.
Last year, she deployed to Calgary to support the disaster relief efforts for the Fort McMurray wildfire victims.
Bartlett volunteered at the Calgary evacuation shelter for two weeks and she said it was an experience she’ll never forget.
“A lot of those people were coming from extremely poor conditions and didn’t have insurance, so they lost everything. Some moved to Canada and were in Fort McMurray for three or more years, they saved up for their house and all their possessions and then everything was lost in the fire – but after all of that, they were still so grateful to be here in Canada and receiving help from the Red Cross,” said Bartlett. “It was a very humbling experience for me to be helping those people and hearing their stories.”
Right now, the team has a roster of 20 volunteers including Bartlett, but they hope to increase that number to a minimum of 35 volunteers.
“The Red Cross is a volunteer-driven organization,” said James Sedgewick, Red Cross disaster management advisor for Renfrew County, Lanark County and Ottawa. “We depend on volunteers and we need their commitment.”
The aim behind their latest recruitment is to be proactive.
Sedgewick expressed that by having more volunteers who are ready and willing to assist, they’ll be more prepared in the event of any future disasters – whether it be a local housefire or a major wildfire anywhere in Canada.
“We have a really strong team right now that's been around for quite a while – all of the volunteers have a lot of experience either with house fires or going on deployment – but we want to be ready for the next disaster so we want to increase our efforts so that we can be ready for anything,” said Sedgewick. “What we're looking to recruit is people in Renfrew County who will with disasters in Renfrew County. But should there ever be major disasters within Ontario or elsewhere in Canada – we want these volunteers to be ready to deploy.”
Above all, Sedgewick stressed that people who decide to volunteer with the Red Cross need to be ready to commit.
“We cant predict when disasters are and we can’t predict when we will be called., so we are looking for people that can make that commitment. For example, we have volunteers that have made arrangements with their employers to get time off or we have volunteers that use their annual three-week vacation for a deployment with us,” said Sedgewick. “It’s not every time we call that you have to go, but you should join with the desire to commit and be ready to deploy in order to help people affected by these disasters. When we're being called by the fire department, there's a need there to help people get back to safety and help them get back on their feet after a disaster.”
Interested volunteers must be 18 years of age or older, pass a police check and ideally have a driver’s license. Once signed up, the Red Cross provides all other necessary training, including first aid.
For those interested in volunteering, applications can be found at redcross.ca