If tragedy hits the capital, hundreds of volunteers are ready to rush into action.
Pinhey’s Point Historic site hosted nearly 200 volunteers in Dunrobin Saturday. Volunteers from several groups teamed up for a first-of-its-kind mock disaster training scenario in Ottawa.
The event, originally scheduled for June in Gatineau but cancelled due to record flooding, was organized by St. John Ambulance in conjunction with Canadian Red Cross,Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary, Ontario Search and Rescue Volunteer Association and Radio Amateurs of Canada.
“To bring everyone together and to actually practice working together as a group and it's extremely important,” said Andrew Stanzel, “Our members and multiple members from organizations here were here in 2019 for the floods and in 2018 after the tornadoes.”
Disaster situations including earthquake, tornado, flood response mock exercises being recreated at Pinhey’s Point Heritage site in Dunrobin led by @stjohnambulance and volunteer search and rescue @CoastGuardCAN auxiliary teams OPP_ER @ctvottawa pic.twitter.com/6Ibg6enaY5— Mike Arsalides (@MArsalidesCTV) October 5, 2019
The scenario being recreated Saturday was a deadly earthquake in the capital. Some volunteers acted as casualties, others fanned out at Pinhey's point historic site.
“Heading into the Dunrobin area again was eerily familiar, 7 weeks the Salvation Army spent most recently with the floods down in Constance bay, Fitzroy,” said Glenn Van Gulik, Area director of Emergency Disaster Services with the Salvation Army. “It seems like 22 months of disasters has been the name here in this area.”
Ian McKillop was aboard a search and rescue boat with the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary team from Hamilton Beach searching for casualties in various exercises learning how to gel with other groups. “Differences in how we operate in case we ever did have to coordinate a major disaster and come together as a team.”
The village of Dunrobin was the site of devastation in September of 2018 when tornadoes tore homes and lives apart. In nearby West-Carleton, floods drowned entire neighbourhoods this past spring; families are still cleaning up and picking up the pieces.
“A lot of people nearby that were affected by this so it's important to have a better response and know what to do in those situations,” said Abby Lind, who played a casualty in the emergency exercise.
The Salvation Army and other groups fed volunteers Saturday, just as they did for hundreds more months ago in their time of need.
“Weeping, crying, shaking, needing someone to talk to and listen,” said Van Gulik.