The Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN) is encouraging local residents to become emergency support services (ESS) volunteers.
ESS volunteers become part of a team that provides shelter, food and a shoulder to lean on when disaster forces people from their homes.
“ESS work can be very rewarding,” said Haley Jeffrey, the RDBN’s emergency services manager. “It involves working with a team of volunteers to help fellow community members deal with an emergency or crisis.”
“ESS volunteers help fellow residents find shelter and other basic necessities immediately after an emergency event,” she continued. “ESS volunteers can also provide emotional support, and a friendly face during trying times.”
Ideally, each electoral area would have an ESS team of at least 10 volunteers. Electoral Areas B and E currently have a total of five volunteers.
“ESS volunteers are needed across the region, including Burns Lake,” said Jeffrey.
Anyone with a desire to help their community and no criminal record can become an ESS volunteer. People with full-time jobs can also become volunteers, even if they cannot respond during work hours.
“A person’s ability to respond from work is something that volunteers must make arrangements for with their employers,” explained Jeffrey.
There are no costs to the volunteers to attend training, which is provided by the provincial government through the Justice Institute of B.C. in cooperation with local governments. The RDBN reimburses mileage costs incurred when volunteers are traveling to and from training. The ESS training schedule for next year has not yet been confirmed.
In addition, all ESS volunteers receive WorkSafeBC and liability insurance coverage while on assignments.
Jeffrey added that ESS volunteers play a vital role in the community.
“We know how important the service is to people in need, and how much the efforts of community ESS volunteers are appreciated,” she said. “It is so important that someone be available to provide this type of support during an emergency.”
The RDBN has been working with local governments to develop a joint approach to emergency response in the region.
If the strategy moves as proposed, each ESS team would have similar procedures and training and the cost of establishing a regional ESS system would be fairly shared across all jurisdictions. As a result, the ESS teams would be interchangeable throughout the region, allowing for an effective response to larger events, and the rotation of ESS volunteers.
For more information on how to become an ESS volunteer, contact the RDBN at 250-692-3195 or email email@example.com.