On Monday night, my friend Robin and I went to "Documentation Unit Training." The course was offered by the Justice Institute of BC, for Emergency Social Services workers.
We spent a bit more than 3 hours in a room with 15 other emergency social services workers and volunteers, all learning how to correctly review, record and dispatch the paper work generated at a reception centre. (A reception centre is the place that is set up in the case of a major emergency that forces people out of their homes.)
As a part-time duty officer for the City of Burnaby, I'm glad to be getting this training. If there is a forest fire, earthquake, tsunami, river flood, industrial accident, major apartment fire etc., I will be called to help with the reception centre. Now I know I could work in the documentation unit, and get the paperwork mostly right. Throughout the province. There are people like me, trained to respond and set up the stuff that people will need to get through an evacuation. Mostly, it involved getting everyone a place to stay, food to eat and clothing to wear. If needed, it includes helping them re-unite with family members from whom they may have been separated. We also do pet care, in case there are animals evacuated from homes.
These training gatherings are fun and interesting. We hear about the events to which others have been called. There was a volunteer in Monday's course who had responded to the floods on Vancouver Island. The trainer had worked in Kelowna, during the forest fires a couple of summers back. Some have not been called, but remain ready. So far, I have been out on a couple of individual family calls, and have been involved in two very short reception centre activations (just a couple of hours each time, after which residents have been allowed back into their homes).
Emergency workers have file boxes or rolling suitcases filled with forms, manuals, blankets and teddy bears. We use many acronyms that are understood only by us (sometimes). We get excited when we hear sirens. When we see house fires and disasters on the news, we think of the victims, but also the responders. We wear vests and ID tags. If you need us, we will wake up in the middle of the night and give you a cup of coffee and a cookie, and figure out what we can do to make you comfortable and safe while you are out of your house.
We are safety nerds. We are ready and waiting.
question: did you ever have to get out of your house?
mompoet - thankful for safety nerds