I’ve been a little busy. I work a job that I love but which involves dashing away at a moments notice to respond to emergencies. Currently I am in the beautiful municipality of Red Lake which has had to evacuate due to a forest fire. It reminds me of two very important things that we all should keep in mind; 1) traumatic events can happen to any of us us at any time and 2) people are amazingly resilient.
I can’t begin to imagine what it felt like for residents to flee their homes and be worried they may never see them again. I can’t fathom the fear of driving to safety with flames on both sides of the road. I can’t comprehend the anxiety of not knowing where you will sleep that night. In many ways I must block it out a bit to be able to focus. In other ways I need to always remember that human piece so I can do my work with that humanitarian mindset. After all, at its core, emergency management is all about people.
There will be a psychosocial impact on residents and responders and for many the effects may never leave them. Resilience is the ability to come back together after something shakes your world. For many that will be an easy task. For others it will take some work. Whatever the scenario, a lot depends on the persons life and emotional experiences. But we can also build resiliency through multiple ways. Here are some basic strategies (HealthLink BC):
Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems.
Accept that change is a part of living.
Move toward your goals.
Take decisive actions.
Look for opportunities for self-discovery.
Nurture a positive view of yourself.
Keep things in perspective.
Maintain a hopeful outlook.
There are many more strategies but truthfully I am to tired to write about them. Stay tuned for more in the future!
As the residents of Red Lake prepare to return home and begin to recover from this event, I wish them well. In the days and weeks that come some may struggle with the memories while others have no worries at all. Any emotions felt are perfectly normal and all are okay. It’s natural to have many mixed reactions to such an enormously impactful event. Talk to each other, take care of one another, and reach out for support if needed.
The amazing community spirit of my beautiful Northwestern Ontario was alive and well this week. The generosity and hard work of so many groups, organizations, municipal officials, front line workers, and first responders fills me with pride. But I’m especially proud of the people of Red Lake whose collective strength and resilience reminds us that in the face of darkness, love and light always shine the brightest!