First responders and emergency services answer the call when needed.
To thank them for their service, especially during the 2016 wildfire, Wood Buffalo is giving back by hitting the links.
The Canadian Mental Health Association Wood Buffalo (CMHA), RCMP Wood Buffalo, and Royal Canadian Legion Branch 165 partnered for the second annual First Responders Golf Tournament.
The event takes place at the Fort McMurray Golf Club on Saturday, June 29, 2019.
CMHA Director Christine Savage says it not only recognizes first responders but also serves the broader community after the fire.
“After the fires, we wanted to do something for the first responders, because they really worked hard and saved our community. One idea that continued to surface and was a pattern in our conversations was let’s have a day and just do something fun.”
Through their efforts this year, they raised nearly $50,000 in mental health resources for Wood Buffalo.
Registration costs $200 per person, with first responders getting a special rate.
Tickets include a golf cart, lunch, a ticket to the dinner banquet, and a complimentary gift bag.
Fort McMurray Golf Club Tournament Director Colleen Stewart said their club is happy to host this year’s event.
“We’re happy to re-open our clubhouse, since the wildfire. The First Responders tournament is one of the biggest [golf tournaments] of the year, and definitely towards a very good cause so we look forward to welcoming everyone down.”
As of the writing of this article, registration is 75 per cent sold out.
There are three Hole-In-One prizes available for participants to win at select holes.
Mental Health for First Responders
Not many consider the stresses facing first responders when they respond to emergencies.
Similarly, as in any other occupation, people tend to take work home with them.
RCMP Officer-in-charge Lorna Dicks says first responders aren’t just on the front lines.
“We also have a significant complement of plainclothes officers that do serious investigations. Behind all those officers are our municipal employees and our public service employees who support all that, so while they might not be out on the frontline, they are supporting us to deal with it.”
Mental health is important for fire and emergency services as well.
President of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 165, Pat Duggan says calls often have familial connections, so on-hand support is important.
“We’re a combined department, but also a volunteer department. They don’t get to see it every day, but when they do it’s always in their own community. [They] usually know the person that they’re going to [help], or at least know of the person.”
Duggan added that connection is often overlooked when it comes to mental health and first responders.
Ways to help
First responders have family, friends, and co-workers in the field.
Christine Savage says checking with a person, who may be acting strangely, is a simple way to help.
“We don’t want to hide away from mental health, because it continues to build if we do. So we really want to have that conversation with individuals to check in and see if they’re okay. Sometimes, they may just be focused on something, and they’re totally fine, but other times there may be something that’s overwhelming for them.”
RCMP Victim Services can always do with more volunteers.
Lorna Dicks, Officer-in-charge with RCMP Wood Buffalo, says support for victims of crime and their families is also important.
“We have a very strong Victim Services program at our detachment. The program is open to anybody that wants to volunteer. We’re always looking for people to support us in that capacity because there is certainly a need.”
Residents can volunteer for Victim Services through the Municipality’s website.