In the case of emergencies there is often little time to decide on what is the right thing to do. People panic. Orders are sent out. Lives are at stake and, often enough, there is death.
In Canada, there are all sorts of organizations set up to help the evacuation of humans in dire situations. These organizations have emergency plans in place that guide emergency personnel through the treacherous quagmire of bureaucracy, life and death and the three basic needs of water, food and shelter with swift precision. Humans, however, are not the only living and breathing things that need help. Animals of all sort are vulnerable and this is where Noah’s Wish steps in.
Noah’s Wish is an organization that has been around for a while. Formulating first in 2002 in the U.S., Noah’s Wish has grown and prospered into a well-respected savior of animals. Now in Canada since 2003, the organization has recruited many good Canadians onto their competent team. Princeton’s very own Pam Legault is one such brave soldier who strongly believes in animal rescue and recovery. She joined Noah’s Wish shortly after it first entered Canada and has never looked back. In fact, it was directly because of Legault that Princeton held it very first Noah’s Wish Disaster Response Training seminar for Noah’s Wish members who came from all over North America, some as first timers and some as seasoned rescue workers who have been to communities destroyed all over the U.S and Canada. Some attended the Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans while others attended other less publicized hurricanes, tornados, wild fires and very real emergencies with an honest sincerity to make a difference to those who sometimes need human help the very most.
“Each year we focus on a specific type of emergency,” stated Noah’s Wish assistant coordinator Debbie Knabke. Knabke is a licensed Veterinary Technician by trade who said her job, “soon carried over into helping animals during disasters.” She travels to and fro across the U.S. and Canada offering her services as a knowledgeable volunteer and as a first responder.
Director of Education Jo Ellen Cimmino, attended two tornados, one in Ellijai Georgia and one in Velonia, Arkansas, “There were 500 animals on site and eight volunteers,” she stated. “The animals were mostly dogs and cats.” Next, Cimmino is off to North Dakota to aid Noah’s Wish volunteers with the flooding disaster there. “That is why the training is so important,” stated Cimmino. We don’t just sit in a classroom. We simulate disaster situations and really try and prepare our team members for the worst.”
Cimmino has eleven two day training courses booked for 2011 thus far and said she really enjoyed her time here in Princeton. “Everybody, really went out of their way to make us feel welcome. Pam was crucial to bringing us all here and all the volunteers really pulled this off. It has been a very successful weekend. Team B.C. is awesome and Pam has been a real brick in all of this.”
Legault is now a senior volunteer on the Noah’s Wish team and goes out in the field with responders to get her hands dirty saving animals in the worst of scenarios. She attended the wildfire scare near Lilloet in 2010 and said the situation only further strengthened her resolve to help out. “People can’t always take their animals with them when they are evacuated,” stated Legault. “Then, they can’t get back in to get them. That is where we come in to help.”
Five locals attended the intensive two day training program which was filled with lots of hands on training as well as classroom instruction. “The course has been really informative,” stated local animal lover and well known naturalist Madelone Schouten. “Yesterday was a 12 hour day.”
The mission of Noah’s Wish is to save animals during disasters through rescue and recovery services and to mitigate the impact of disasters on animals through our education outreach programs. Legault was pleased to have Keith and Vinny from Everything Pets provide the student volunteers with lamas and alpacas to use for their training. “They were just great,” stated Legault. The team simulate a real life living situation by camping on the same spot where they are training. In this case, the camping was inside the Princeton Arena, but it is not always so cushy. “Sometimes we have no building, other times the heat is brutal. We have to make the best of whatever emergency situation we are thrown into,” concluded Cimmino. “We have great volunteers and they adapt well to wherever, whenever and it is in part because of our training programs.”
To find out more about Noah’s Wish go to the website www.noahswish.ca