We’ve been busy since the fires in Fort McMurray in May, 2016 !
A lot can change in a day and that day, May 3rd we knew we were where we were supposed to be!
May 1st was the first day the team was dispatched to help at the evacuation centre when people from one area of Fort McMurray were under the threat of the forest fire spreading to their homes. May 2nd, they were sent home as the “threat” was gone. May 3rd, we were dispatched again to the Evacuation Centre where most of the city was told to go. That same day, hell broke loose and found ourselves driving through flames to escape. The weeks after that are a blurr but the team helped wherever they were, evacuation centers, EOC, etc… When we came back a month later, our feet were on the ground running.
Year one, we took our proactive Education and Awareness sessions and made them reactive. What does that mean? Our sessions usually happen before a traumatic event happens, we help people build coping and resiliency skills. Unfortunately, the disaster happened before we were able to get out in the community so we changed it up, the disaster happened, now what? These sessions were very successful and we did over 30 in the community. But we didn’t stop there, we traveled to 100 Mile House and Williams Lake (after their fires in 2017) and we helped those communities as well. We had to help because we knew what they were going through.
Thanks to Shell and Suncor funding, we also trained 90 people to do Individual Crisis Intervention within our community and in 100 Mile House. It was discovered early on after our fires, people needed the skills to help those around them by de-escalating an emotional break down. Most times, that is all that they needed and other times, they were the bridge to a higher level of care.
In April 2017, with the 1 year anniversary of the evacuation of Fort McMurray, we created a Gratitude Attitude Campaign where we created a video featuring signs made by over 500 residents who wanted to thank the strangers who came to our aid. Please check out the Facebook page, Fort McMurray Gratitude Attitude.
We are now expanding our program and helping all the Rural Communities in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo create their own Critical Incident Response Teams. We have completed Fort Chipewyan, Fort McKay, Anzac and by the end of April, Conklin and Janvier. Exciting times!
In October 2017, we started working with the Athabasca Tribal Council and developed a Trauma aware workshop for school age kids. These sessions are light in conversation but help teach the kids to communicate with trusted adults when they are experiencing distress.
In February 2018, we trained a number of RCMP officers at the Fort McMurray Detachment and happy to see they now have their own peers to help those exposed to critical/traumatic events.
We’ve done a lot over the past 2 years and we are not stopping there, we have a bigger and a first time event coming up in 2018. But you’ll have to come back to the site to hear more. Just a little teaser! 🙂