AHS staff supporting Saskatchewan evacuees in Cold Lake
Story by Kirsten Goruk
You never think it’ll happen to you, but then, one hot summer’s day you hear a knock at your door and you’re told you have to evacuate your home, leave everything behind.
It’s everyone’s worst nightmare and for the Saskatchewan residents who fled wildfires burning near their communities, many found themselves in Cold Lake at the Energy Centre evacuation site run by the Canadian Red Cross.
Alberta Health Services’ (AHS) staff are also on site, running a triage clinic and providing support for the evacuees.
“It’s going great, and we’re glad to offer some assistance. As the days have gone on we’ve assessed what we’re able to do and continue to adapt,” says Rob MacDonald, Clinical Supervisor for Cold Lake, Bonnyville and St. Paul.
AHS Public Health, Mental Health and Home Care staff have stepped up to work shifts in the clinic to screen and triage health and mental health concerns. Staff have seen everyone from pregnant women and babies to patients with arthritis or back injuries and others who need help with a bump or scrape. Local physicians are also available four hours a day to assist people who need to see a doctor.
“They are making use of us. They seem appreciative. Our nurses and the mental health staff work hard and have been very compassionate with everyone who’s come through. We’re serving everyone as best we can,” MacDonald says.
Miriam Sanderson and many of her family members are staying at the Energy Centre after being evacuated from their home in Air Ronge, Sask. She brought her one-year-old daughter Akasha to the AHS clinic to get checked out because she had a fever.
“The care from AHS has been good. They told me how to get access to Tylenol for my daughter and they were helpful and took good care of her,” she says.
With more than 500 people staying at the Energy Centre, our staff are reaching out to help in any way they can and bring comfort and care to the evacuees. RN Rhonda Byrne works casual and offered to take on some shifts at the clinic.
“It’s been a very rewarding experience. I’m glad that we’re able to be here to help out. Sometimes a parent just needs to know that their child is okay, that what they’re experiencing is not life-threatening and other times, people just need a Band-Aid and that helps them feel better,” she says.