The Red Cross Emergency Response Service is a scheme which allows volunteers in the Red Cross to be listed as Preparedness Guards on an alert list for extraordinary incidents. The Preparedness Guards´ role in Trondheim Red Cross adds an extra resource in addition to the public emergency apparatus in Norway. It helps to strengthen preparedness in the local communities all over the country. Through the locally based Preparedness Guards, the inhabitants themselves can assist in critical situations.
The Red Cross can at short notice ask the listed Preparedness Guards for assistance with various assignments. Participation is voluntary, but it is expected that those who are on standby to a greater extent than other volunteers are willing to assist the Red Cross at relatively short notice. Training is important. All new volunteers must complete a beginner course for new volunteers. It is of great importance that our volunteers are familiar with Red Cross’ mandate and role and also their own role as volunteers in the Red Cross. All of this is covered in the beginner course, as well as an introduction to Psychosocial first aid and Physical first aid. We also recommend the volunteers to participate in our Migration course, which provides insight into the current migration picture and asylum process, as well as the integration work in the Red Cross. This course is especially important in light of the current situation in Ukraine.
At the moment the top priority assignment for the Preparedness Guards´ role in Trondheim Red Cross is refugees from Ukraine seeking asylum in Trondheim. Examples of activities the guards can facilitate are various activities for children, which serves two purposes. The children get the chance to be involved in playful and social activities with trustworthy adults, while their parents get some time off to gather new information but also take a break from caregiving tasks.
The Preparedness Guards are trained in Psychological first aid (PFA). Psychological first aid is a technique designed to reduce the occurrence of post-traumatic stress disorder. PFA provides knowledge about the importance of physical and mental presence when meeting people who have experienced traumatic events, how to listen attentively and how to best meet the affected person’s various emotional reactions. PFA aims to reduce stress symptoms and assist in a healthy recovery.
Red Cross volunteers offer activities both inside and outside the reception centers. The activities help to normalize the everyday life of the asylum seekers and also to prevent conflicts. There is no doubt both important and demanding to build up a large capacity to help the families who have fled the war in Ukraine. The Red Cross Emergency Response will line up with everything we can with well-trained volunteers to be able to help the reception apparatus and the municipalities.
The Red Cross in both Trondheim and rest of the country gathered much knowledge back in 2015 when we welcomed a great number of asylum seekers to Norway, mainly from Syria. Local Red Cross associations were at that time engaged in supporting the municipalities in receiving and helping newly arrived Syrians to settle. Hopefully, the The Red Cross’ knowledge base from 2015 will benefit the Ukrainian refugees in Trondheim and throughout the country.
Uncertainty and long waits for those living in the reception centers can lead to a lack of meaning, coping and the sense of belonging in everyday life. Prepardness guards can, at their best, function as counterweights. They have the time for a cup of coffee and a good conversation. Being met by a friendly Red Cross volunteer in the local community can possibly make a big difference in people´s lives, and help build resilience.
Author: Marie Borgen Hellerud (Trondheim Red Cross)
Photo credits: Trondheim Red Cross