Salvationist Podcast

Perron Goodyear, Territorial Director of Emergency Disaster Services

May 29, 2020 Salvationist.ca Season 1 Episode 4
Salvationist Podcast
Perron Goodyear, Territorial Director of Emergency Disaster Services
Chapters
Salvationist Podcast
Perron Goodyear, Territorial Director of Emergency Disaster Services
May 29, 2020 Season 1 Episode 4
Salvationist.ca

Perron Goodyear has served in the Salvation Army for over 16 years. Currently, he is the Territorial Director of Emergency Disaster Services. He works closely with all Salvation Army divisions and provides valuable insight into the planning, monitoring, and evaluation process for Emergency Disaster Relief.

Show Notes Transcript

Perron Goodyear has served in the Salvation Army for over 16 years. Currently, he is the Territorial Director of Emergency Disaster Services. He works closely with all Salvation Army divisions and provides valuable insight into the planning, monitoring, and evaluation process for Emergency Disaster Relief.

Brandon
Hi my is Brandon Laird and you are listening to a Salvationist.ca podcast, stories and news from the Salvation Army Canada and Bermuda territory. Welcome to the Salvationist COVID-19 response podcast a series where we talk about how the Salvation Army has responded to the COVID-19 crisis. Today I have the privilege of talking with Perron Goodyear. Perron has served in the Salvation Army for over 16 years. Currently, he is the territorial director of emergency disaster services. He works closely with all Salvation Army divisions and provides valuable insight in the planning, monitoring and evaluation process of emergency disaster relief. Welcome to the show Perron.

Perron
Thanks Brandon, appreciate you having me.

Brandon
The Salvation Army has been at the front lines during the COVID-19 crisis. Can you give us a brief update on the type of involvement emergency disaster services is having in response to the pandemic?

Perron
Well Brandon, our emergency disaster services units have been activated all across the territory. We have our community response units which are like a mobile canteen and they have been activated in various communities across the country helping out with community meals, feeding healthcare workers, we've had personnel going in and assisting in some of our Salvation Army shelters, we've been providing clothing to people who are in quarantine. In addition in certain locations, the Salvation Army emergency disaster services have been tasked with either running or assisting at some of the additional pop-up shelters that have been activated in response to COVID-19. We've had teams that have done some unique things like food delivery to vulnerable families and one of the most unique things and I know that you had Colonel Murray on in your initial podcast and he talked about this: feeding of the truck drivers in Port aux Basque Newfoundland who were coming on and off the ferries bringing critical supplies to the island of Newfoundland. So again, an emergency disaster services team there was activated to provide that support for the truckers.

Brandon
That's quite a varied response and it's interesting to see all the different areas the Salvation Army is helping. Are there special considerations for emergency disaster services personnel serving in the pandemic? For example personal protective equipment? How is this being handled?

Perron
Absolutely there are special considerations. So, you mentioned personal protective equipment and certainly our teams have been utilizing that as they've been directed by local health authorities and of course one of the unique things with this pandemic is that it's not affecting areas across the country equally, so we're taking advice from the local health unit as to what personal protective equipment might be needed. But then there's been some unique additional things that have been implemented. We've had teams that have utilized people from the same household as a small team to make sure that we're keeping that physical distancing from those outside of the household. We've removed self serve options so that normally if you've been to one of our sites at a disaster, if we have one of our community response units out serving, there may be things like coffee and condiments and things like that that people can help themselves to. So we've removed all that so that we're getting rid of those common touch surfaces. Everything has been provided and take away containers; in some locations we've had a drive-through service where people can pull up in their vehicles and then they're served in a contactless manner. And of course you know standard things, extra cleaning and sanitizing being implemented. But interestingly enough, a number of months ago at the territorial level we developed a new territorial rapid emergency assistance team that could provide additional support to divisions or to the territory as a whole if there was a large scale incident. And I know that Salvationist magazine in May ran a little story about the territorial team. Well, early on in the pandemic we activated our territorial rapid emergency assistance team to actually take a look at what would be the key considerations for response either to the pandemic or to others disasters that might happen during the pandemic, and what types of things might need to be considered so that we could implement some of that planning and it really did pay off dividends. Interestingly enough, one of the recommendations that was made, and has been implemented, is that two of our main training courses were recently launched virtually which is the first time we've done that so that way we can increase and onboard new volunteers to be able to assist us, people who already are affiliated with the Salvation Army can actually go on and take training virtually and then be able to assist in areas. So again, if we're looking at bringing in people from the same household the household can get trained together and then be able to respond. So some very interesting and unique things that we've implemented in order to be able to respond during these days.

Brandon
Speaking about our response, last month 13,000 people in Fort McMurray were displaced from their homes because of major flooding all during the pandemic. Can you tell us about the army's response in Fort McMurray and other areas in Alberta?

Perron
Definitely, and as I mentioned Brandon, some planning went in place beforehand on how we would respond to some of these things. In fact at one point, we had flood warnings or watches in almost every province in Canada. And so, we were closely monitoring all of these different areas for potential flooding and what response might look like when it came to the pandemic. So, in Fort McMurray itself our local Salvation Army emergency disaster services team was contacted by the city's emergency social services and we were activated to be deployed to the oil sand discovery centre which was set up as an evacuation centre. And so we were there in the initial days providing hydration, providing emotional and spiritual care to people, and we were there 24 hours a day for the first few days. Following that, we were transferred to a parking lot to continue to provide hydration, and emotional and spiritual care, again 24 hours a day that we could provide to people. And we were providing this support to the first responders as well as the people who were evacuated from their homes, and right up until just earlier this month we were providing hydration and food to again our responders as well as evacuees in Fort McMurray. In addition to that, there's a community North West of Fort McMurray, Fort Vermilion who were also under an evacuation order. And when that evacuation order was lifted, The Salvation Army was asked to go in and serve three meals a day to the returning residents, as well as the volunteers. And so, we had a crew from Grand Prairie in Alberta and they actually had just received a new community response unit for their area that had just been recently refurbished. It was delivered and the same day that crew left for Fort Vermilion and started serving, preparing meals for residents as they returned home, providing emotional and spiritual care, and so to give you an idea over that period of time over 4,000 meals were served and we had more than 180 emotional and spiritual care contacts there in Fort Vermilion.

Brandon
I think when people hear this podcast they will have new appreciation for our emergency disaster services.

Perron
Yeah, emergency disaster services is a unique ministry Brandon. And I say it's a ministry 'cause it really is. And often we have those people who will come and their first experience with it, I have a colleague who used to say they drank the Kool Aid because they get so engrossed in realizing the front line support that we're able to provide to people often at the darkest times of their lives. And one of the things to be conscious of with Fort McMurray and one of the unique things is that the flood happened and all of those people were evacuated almost to the day of the four year anniversary of the big Fort McMurray fire. And we're told that some of those families had just moved back into their homes, had just gotten settled into their new homes after the fire and then were evacuated due to a flood. And so, you can imagine the emotional stress and strain that that would have on families in addition to there being a global pandemic and so that emotional and spiritual care piece that psychosocial support that we are able to provide that listening ear is such a critical component of what we do and it's something that's so valued by the people that we serve.

Brandon
It's so good to hear about that and how the Army's serving all types of people in all types of situations across Canada. In Canada, we recently marked emergency preparedness week. What is this week abbout, and what can people do to prepare for disaster?

Perron
Well, emergency preparedness week Brandon, takes place the first full week of May every year. This year was actually the 25th year that it's been it's been marked in Canada and it's a week that is coordinated by Public Safety Canada through the federal government in partnership with the provinces and territories and other key stakeholders including the Salvation Army. So, we sit on a multi stakeholder planning book group for emergency preparedness week and it's intended to educate Canadians on ways that they can be better prepared for potential things that will happen within our communities. And so, we work with all of our national partners, we work with each of the divisions of the provinces, in developing materials to put out to try and educate the public. And so, this year our theme was "Are you ready." And so, then we took that theme and looked at three key things that we suggest people can do in order to be better prepared for any potential hazards. So the first one is to develop a plan for you and your family, those in your household, some of the considerations there is to think about a contact in another community. So, in many cases things happen right and it may happen during the day when kids are in school and so if kids are evacuated separately and communication is not great and you don't know exactly how to get a hold of them, then it's having that contact outside that both you and your kids know who to contact. It might be an aunt and uncle in another community or a grandparent and you both know to call them so the kids can call say I'm OK and then the parent can call and get that information and know where their kids are and their information. So thinking about that. Considerations for particularly vulnerable people. So the elderly. People who have special needs. You know, again, children. Think about all of those considerations. Really, key one is to not forget about our pets. Right? Many of us have pets and we know you're not going to evacuate, you're not going to leave and just leave your pet there. So, making those considerations so when you're developing your plan think about those things. And so people can actually go to getprepared.ca and there's a template there that they can go in and fill out all the information and go through step-by-step and actually create an emergency plan. Right? But then you're going to need to make sure you practice it you know where it is it has to be a living document that you know about. So that's the first step. The second step is to get or make a kit, an emergency kit. And it's in order to be self sufficient for up to 72 hours, so that's three full days. And experts say that that's the time frame because in some cases it may take that long for additional help to arrive. So being able to be self sufficient. So, thinking about things like food and water.A flashlight. Some kind of a radio, whether it's a crank radio or whatever. Making sure you've got additional chargers for your phone. All of those kinds of things you think about to put in your kit. Now we do have some available from the Salvation Army through our supplies and purchasing department. We have both a standard survival kit or a deluxe emergency preparedness car kit that has all of those items, but you can also go out and purchase the items again at getprepared.ca there's a list of suggested items, you can go. We actually had a volunteer in Québec  within the last couple of years that wanted to show that it really also didn't have to be a huge cost item and so she actually went out and purchased everything for her emergency kit from a local dollar store and was able to put an emergency kit together. So having that. Thinking about those things though, if it's batteries you know perishable food things like that, need to then be rotated through. So, we recommend that at the same time twice a year when the times change and you go and check the batteries in your smoke detector, that's a good time to check your emergency kit and make sure you've got all of the items, everything is there, everything's checked, you've got all of those things. And the last thing that we suggest is to join our team and train to assist when disaster strikes. The Salvation Army, we utilize volunteers in every aspect of our emergency disaster services for those front line people to leadership positions, we utilize volunteers and we rely on them. However we only utilize pre-trained pre-registered volunteers during an emergency or disaster response. So, I mentioned earlier we've we put some of our training into a virtual world. So we have full training provided through what's called our national disaster training program, which is a detailed emergency response training program where personnel are trained in every aspect of Salvation army's emergency response. And so you know, we encourage people before the disaster strikes, before something happens in their community, take some time, take some training learn more about what we do, so that you can be prepared. But those other two items I mentioned with having a plan and getting a kit those are really the first two steps. Because we need to be prepared ourselves, because we can't help other people if we're not prepared ourselves. So going through and doing those things, preparing yourself, preparing your household so that then, and then taking that training to be better prepared, so when something happens we're able to respond quickly.

Brandon
Thank you for taking time out of your day to give an update and share information in stories about what's going on across the territory within emergency and disaster services. Something tells me our listeners will have a new appreciation for this ministry and will have a desire to get involved. And that's all the time we have for today thanks for listening to the Salvationist COVID-response podcast. For new episodes be sure to visit salvationist.ca/podcast for more Army news visit salvationist.ca and if you would like to get the news delivered directly into your email inbox sign up for our newsletter at salvationist.ca/newsletter.