This week Red Cross aid workers from across the country are meeting in Ontario for an intensive training exercise. Each of the 35 aid workers – delegates as they are known in the Red Cross movement – are part of a larger roster of specialists who will deploy with the Canadian Red Cross Emergency Response Unit (ERU) hospital.
The ERU is the only Red Cross field hospital in North America, and it can be deployed to international disasters within 48 hours of being requested.
As part of the current week-long training exercise, delegates are required to put up the hospital (which consists of several tents and carefully coded supply kits) and go through a series of training exercises that will prepare them for work in the field.
As part of their training, they participate in a simulation where a large group of ‘victims’ arrives unexpectedly at the hospital in need of medical help. The delegates, including healthcare professionals, as well as logistics and tech experts respond to the training exercise as they would in a real life situation.
Several Ambassadors to the Red Cross Social Media Team participated in the training, playing the role of ‘victims’. They joined a group of more than 25 Red Cross volunteers who had their make-up done to appear as though they have suffered serious injuries.
A special thank you to WestJet for donating flights for two members – Rebeca Bollwitt and Jorge Rosales – of the Social Media Team so that they could participate in the training exercise from Calgary and Vancouver.
Once the volunteers are ready, they arrive en masse at the hospital and the scenario begins. Doctors and nurses rush to get ‘patients’ to the correct wards; operations begin; patients suffering emotional trauma are cared for; babies are born; and victims are moved quickly into the hospital on stretchers.
The Emergency Response Unit (ERU) is part of the Canadian International Development Agency’s (CIDA) First Responder Initiative, which committed funds to the development and training of hospital aid workers. CIDA Minister Julian Fantino, visited the hospital and toured the facilities. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s wife, Laureen Harper, also toured the hospital.
The Canadian Red Cross ERU was deployed to Haiti during the cholera outbreak, and some delegates on the team have deployed with Red Cross field hospitals in Sierra Leone and Chad during recent cholera outbreaks.
Interesting in becoming an ERU delegate? Check out this link.