The Canadian Red Cross’ local Emergency Response Team was thrilled to get a look at the new rapid response trailer last week that will enable it to help area residents in the event of an emergency.
Stocked with a variety of supplies, including 50 cots and 100 blankets, as well as tables, hygiene kits, solar generators, and administration material, the trailer will be located in Fort Frances to serve it and the surrounding area if people are displaced from their homes.
“It’s ready to shelter people on the go,” noted Keri Rafter, the community services co-ordinator for the Dryden and District branch of the Canadian Red Cross.
“This is a really great thing to have in the community.”
“We hope to never have to use it,” echoed local ERT lead Kirsty Sinclair.
“But it’s better to have it and not use it than to need it and not have it,” she reasoned.
The trailer, made possible in part through a Ontario Trillium Foundation grant, is one of five rapid response trailers now located within the region.
They also are in Dryden, Ear Falls, Kenora, and Pickle Lake.
“The idea is that if there is a significant emergency, we can always bring in additional trailers from other communities,” Rafter explained.
“You can even call Winnipeg or Thunder Bay—we always have the support,” she stressed.
Rafter noted the Red Cross is pleased to have the fully-outfitted trailers as part of its disaster management fleet.
All five trailers are supplied with the same resources.
“If a need arose, we will now be able to support the community,” Sinclair noted.
Having been involved with the Red Cross here for three years, Sinclair has assisted with northern evacuations in both Fort Frances and Thunder Bay, as well as being prepared to help out when a train derailed in Barwick back in July, 2015.
“We got our team together and we mobilized our equipment,” Sinclair recalled.
“We went to Emo to meet with everyone who was involved in emergency response.
“We were prepared to set up a shelter if anybody needed a place to stay that night,” she added.
“We didn’t need to set up a shelter for anybody—the community took them all in,” Sinclair noted.
“But at the same time, we were there and we were prepared to do what needed to be done.”
The local team currently consists of five volunteers—in various places in the process of being trained to meet face-to-face with clients—but it is looking for more to join.
That’s why an open house was held last Thursday at the Super 8 here to try and garner more interest.
“We did have a couple people show some interest,” Sinclair said. “And people can get involved at anytime.”
She noted the team covers the entire district—from Atikokan to Rainy River.
“So we need people across the district who would be able to pick up and help a family in their own community,” she explained.
“Would like to have more volunteers,” she reiterated. “To have a full team would be a great thing for the community.”
Sinclair said they need people with different strengths, such as those with computer and finance backgrounds.
And though they aren’t required to spring into action often, when they are needed, it’s important to have a good, knowledgeable team.
Sinclair noted anyone who signs up to be a volunteer goes through an interview process.
“Then they would go for training; a weekend away to be trained in the paperwork and the procedures that are necessary to fulfill this role,” she explained.
“Then we get together for monthly meetings.”
Sinclair stressed disasters never happen at convenient times.
“We need more people to have the availability to be ready in the case of an emergency.”
If you are interested in getting involved, call Volunteer Resource Services toll-free at 1-844-818-2155 or e-mail VRS@redcross.ca