The Canadian Red Cross is known for a lot of things, from being on the frontlines with aid when disaster strikes, to providing community swim lessons, first aid and babysitting courses.
In Salmon Arm, every Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., local volunteers with the organization help provide another valuable service. They oversee the Red Cross’ local health equipment and loan program (HELP), which provides medical equipment to those in need.
To the rear of the spacious Red Cross office, located at 650 Trans-Canada Highway, there many pieces of equipment available for public use, including walkers, commodes, bathing benches and crutches, in addition to many wheel chairs.
Regarding the wheel chairs, among which are options for pediatric and bariatric needs, Carol Jeffery, team leader with the Salmon Arm HELP, says there are days when when most are in service. On this day (Tuesday, March 3), two-wheeled walkers were in high demand as well as bathing equipment.
“We provide the equipment to people who are having surgery, hips, knees, that kind of thing, they usually need three or four pieces of equipment and usually for three or four months,” Jeffery, adding equipment is also used by people in care homes, those who have had falls at home or elsewhere, and other circumstances where there’s need.
Liam Devine, Red Cross Emergency Program Co-ordinator for the region, explains the HELP provides equipment for free on a loan basis.
“It’s a referral based program so they need to have a note from a doctor and usually people reach out to us if they’re having surgery or if a member of their family is struggling with something – medical equipment in general is pretty expensive,” said Devine, noting Red Cross has partnered with Interior Health to provide more advanced equipment when needed.
Jeffrey said the Salmon Arm Red Cross facility does get calls from people seeking other services the organization provides.
“A lot of people phone us and ask us for blood services, they ask us can we do swimming lessons, and we just have to refer them to a different department,” said Jeffrey. “All we do is handle equipment.”
Currently, the Red Cross is in need of volunteers to help with the Salmon Arm HELP centre. The organization is also seeking local volunteers for the Red Cross emergency management program.
“They would be integrated into a regional team and they would receive – we have really comprehensive world-class training for emergency management and disaster response – people would get onboard and onto a team and be providing direct services to people impacted by both small scale and larger scale disasters,” explained Devine.
For more information about volunteering with the Red Cross emergency response program, visit redcross.ca. To volunteer with the Salmon Arm HELP, call 250-491-8443 ext. 216, or visit the Red Cross website.