Alaska Division prepares for emergencies
Division holds its first EDS Training Camp.
A group of Salvation Army officers, employees and volunteers participated in the Alaska Division’s first-ever Emergency Disaster Services (EDS) Training Camp Sept. 16-18 at King’s Lake Camp in Wasilla. Delegates represented 10 communities from around the state.
“With the everyday challenges of accessibility that Alaska faces, having a well-planned and resourced EDS response is critical,” said Divisional EDS Director Jenni Ragland, who planned and led the event with support from territorial headquarters.
Representatives from the State of Alaska Homeland Security & Emergency Management and FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) Region X Mass Care presented information on the significance of government and non-profit partnerships and the programs available to support recovery and response efforts.
During a round-table discussion on building local EDS teams that followed these presentations, delegates accepted a challenge to identify three specific steps they can accomplish in the next six months to develop or enhance the EDS ministry in their communities.
“As we are currently working to become part of the network of churches that offer Cold Weather Overflow Shelter, I see this as an opportunity to identify volunteers who would [join] our EDS team,” said Lt. Darla Malone, assistant corps officer in Anchorage. “Not only will this help [expand] available volunteers to support the Cold Weather Overflow Shelter, [but] it is [also] an opportunity to keep EDS volunteers actively engaged.”
On day two, participants chose from courses on Emotional and Spiritual Care, Incident Command System, and Food Service and Canteen Operations. The individuals in the Food Service class received a hand from the other delegates after preparing a barbecue lunch for the whole camp.
Lt. Dave Kyle, Haines corps officer, found that the EDS camp strengthened ties between local Salvation Army units and divisional and territorial headquarters.
“The training was helpful…[for] the cohesion that was both built and enforced,” he said. “[This is about] Haines best utilizing the human, technical, and physical resources available to respond appropriately to disaster within a framework of spiritual and human assistance sourced at DHQ and THQ. Knowing that DHQ not only hears us, but seeks to assist, that THQ hears us, knows us, and seeks to continue their mission with and through us is…a force multiplier.”
The division plans to make this an ongoing event.
“The first annual EDS Training Camp was a good step in helping strengthen the capacity of our Salvation Army in the Last Frontier,” Ragland said.