When an emergency happens, the most important advice anyone can take from those who know is to be prepared.
Emergency response teams all across B.C. stand at the ready to help when a disaster strikes whether it is flood, forest fire, mud slide, earthquake, hurricane or something else, they rush to the aid of those in need.
For the members of these teams it is as much a personal passion as it is a job. In fact, many of these teams are filled with volunteers who put their lives on hold to help.
Some of that help comes in the form of education, and that is the reason for course and education seminars like the one being offered in Princeton in June of this year.
It is a course directly targeting animals lovers – whether they be pets or livestock. The weekend course is an intensive training session that incorporates real live living conditions as might be expected when in the middle of an emergency.
Through Noah’s Wish Foundation, area coordinator Pam Legault, was able to gain permission to hold a Noah’s Wish Disaster Response Training seminar for the first time ever in Princeton. “People will be coming from B.C., Alberta and Washington for the course,” said Legault. “Keith and Vinny from Everything Pets will be providing us with birds, lamas and alpacas to use for our training.”
Noah’s Wish just came to Canada in 2003. It originated in Sacramento, California, but has since spread across North America and arriving in Canada in 2003 during the Kamloops area fires. Legault is not new to the idea of saving animals during emergencies and in fact, “has been doing this type of thing for 20 some years.” CADRT, Canadian Animal Disaster Response Team, is the response team for the Okanagan Similkameen and is based out of Penticton. “They come to our training and we go to theirs,” said Legault.
Legault moved to Princeton four years ago from Aldergrove under mild protest from her husband Larry who vowed never to live in snow, but now calls Princeton paradise. “We wanted to get out of the rat race,” Legault said simply. “It was time.”
The course being offered through Noah’s Wish is not just open to members of emergency response teams, but rather encourages anyone who wants to participate. “Anybody can come to this,” stated Legault.
The course is intense and Legault acknowledges that quite a few spots are already booked in the program. “People come to take the training as part of a team, so they can join a team or just to take it independent of that. “Every year we learn something special,” Legault added.
Legault has done some on the job training at some really intense locations. She was one of the team members who came to the rescue of pets and livestock during the fires around Lilloet last year. “I helped evacuate Lilloet,” Legault said. “We had a shelter set up in a Forestry building and then when the fire intensified, we had to evacuate that at one in the morning.”
“It’s not always whether or not you take your animals with you,” stated Legault, “but if you can get back to get them.” Like in the case of the Kelowna fires, many residents homes were put on an evacuation list while home owners were at work or away for some other reason. It can happen quickly and that is where we step in.” Legault works with the Langley Emergency Social Services which is associated with a branch of the PEP. “I am a Senior Volunteer for Western Canada,” Legault stated. “The main goal of the training is to educate people on being prepared to evacuate pets in case of emergency from turtles to goldfish, snakes, gerbels, rats, ferrets, cats and dogs.”
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Legault headed south to lend a helping hand and spent a month from mid-October to mid-November working in a shelter with rescued and displaced animals. The shelter had 400 cats and 300 dogs there. “It was rewarding,” said Legault. While many of the animals went to foster families, Legault remembers one pet owner, a big guy who was 6’6” crying when he found his cats.”
There are two important pieces of knowledge that Noah’s Wish asks animal owners to figure out. “You need to have a safe way to transport your animals and you need to know where you are going to take your animals,” Legault stated. Noah’s Wish has a Mission: “The mission of Noah’s Wish is to save animals during disasters with our rescue and recovery services and to mitigate the impact of disasters on animals through our education outreach programs.”
“Come camp out with the class for a whole weekend and see how this realistic training simulates what disaster response is all about,” states the brochure. Students will learn information on animal first aid and CPR, animal intake and sheltering, animal focus topics on domestic birds and camelids, effective communications and conflict resolution, disaster information on tornadoes, zoonotic and blood borne pathogens, deployment information for new volunteers, separate track for returning volunteers, mass casualty animal triage techniques and much more. The course costs $125 for new volunteers and $75 for returning volunteers. It costs $85 for seniors, students or SART,CERT, DART or CART members. The course will be held July 9 and 10, 2011 at the Princeton and District Arena on Old Hedley Road. To find out more or register contact Pam Legault at 250-295-7343 or through the website www.noahswish.info