Fernie’s recent record-breaking blizzard, showed that the City of Fernie’s Emergency Social Services (ESS) program is in need of volunteers.
ESS provides short-term disaster relief across B.C. in the event of fires, floods and other emergencies. Last week they opened a warming centre at the Fernie Community Centre for travelers stranded by highway closures.
ESS spokesperson Mary Southgate said 10 of the organization’s 15 volunteers showed up to offer their services at the warming centre.
“This little event showed me that we were very short of people,” said Southgate. “The reality is we need more numbers to be prepared.”
Community volunteers provide for the essential needs of individuals and families affected by disaster. They include food, lodging, clothing, emotional support and help finding loved ones.
Volunteers should be reliable team players with the ability to work under pressure. The time commitment varies. Some training might be provided on how to run reception centre operations, family reunification and childcare in disaster situations.
ESS is designed to provide services during big community-wide emergencies but they also provide support during smaller disasters such as home or apartment fires.
Interested volunteers should contact Paul Wortley, ESS director at ESSfernie@gmail.com.