Responding to emergencies and disasters with the Canadian Red Cross
Release Date: 01/16/2023
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When a natural disaster strikes, your electricity is at risk. And Canada is no stranger to extreme weather. During these large-scale emergencies, a coordinated effort is needed to aid Canadians – and millions around the globe. Enter the Canadian Red Cross, a leader in providing disaster relief at home and aboard. In episode 103 of thinkenergy, we chat with Guy Lepage, a Disaster Management Volunteer with the organization, to learn more about his role and what it's like having ‘boots on the ground’ during a disaster.
- The Canadian Red Cross: https://www.redcross.ca/how-we-help/emergencies-and-disasters-in-canada
- Guy Lepage, LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/guy-lepage-8568289/
- Hydro Ottawa safety resources: https://hydroottawa.com/en/outages-safety
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Dan Seguin 00:06
This is think energy, the podcast that helps you better understand the fast changing world of energy through conversations with game changers, industry leaders, and influencers. So join me, Dan Seguin, as I explore both traditional and unconventional facets of the energy industry. Canada has experienced a number of natural disasters in the last number of years in 2022. There was a devastating May long weekend Derecho in Ontario, forest fires and floods in British Columbia. And of course, Hurricane Fiona on the East Coast, to name just a few. For those of us in the energy sector, we know that when disaster strikes, a stable supply of electricity is jeopardized. Electricity represents safety, shelter, sanitation, warmth, and clean water. As extreme weather and other large scale events occur around the world. A coordinated global reach is needed to provide aid to millions. There is one leading organization in particular that comes to mind when you think of disaster relief with the skills, resources and people to mobilize in almost any region of this world. I'm talking about the International Red Cross. When it was created back in 1863, the Red Cross the objective was to protect and assist victims of armed conflict. Of course, their work has expanded to many types of crises, including disasters caused by extreme weather events. In total, the Red Cross has a network of more than 80 million people across the world that they can draw on to help in times of need, many right here at home. So here's today's big question. As leaders in emergency preparedness, response and execution, what is it like to be a Canadian Red Cross volunteer with boots on the ground during a disaster. Our guest on the show today is Guy Lepage, a disaster management volunteer with the Canadian Red Cross. Gi has been deployed to some of the world's biggest disasters and relief operations here in Canada and overseas. No matter the emergency, big or small. The Red Cross stands ready to help people before, during and after a disaster. As a member of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, the Canadian Red Cross is dedicated to helping people and communities in Canada and around the world in times of need, and supporting them in strengthening their resilience. Guy. Welcome to the show.
Guy Lepage 03:16
Thanks for having me.
Dan Seguin 03:17
Guy, perhaps you can start by telling us how long you've been with the Canadian Red Cross. And what inspired you to get involved?
Guy Lepage 03:27
You'll recall back in 2005, 17 years ago, Hurricane Katrina hit the Deep South and of course, that made headlines around the world and then was working for the provincial government at the time and the premier at the time. Dalton McGuinty was contacted by the Canadian Red Cross asking him to send 100 members of the Ontario Public Service to help the American Red Cross. So I put my hand up as a former journalist to help as a communications or a public affairs officer. And I went to the deep south for three weeks as a public affairs officer and I got to see up close what the Red Cross does, whether it's American Canadian, choose your country, we all work under the same guidelines and rules. So you know, I saw how it was done. And so I came home and I said, Okay, I've been to the Deep South, what can I do in my own backyard. And that's when I started thinking about all the courses and the training I should have had before we're going to the Deep South. And it was just an amazing experience and the start of my Red Cross career. Now I can tell you that before I worked for the province, I worked as a journalist in Ottawa for the Ottawa Citizen and CJ wait gender Max Keeping for the your listeners who remember Max, and they covered disasters from house fires to train derailments to, you know, high winds, tornadoes, and there was one case in Gatineau. Across the river, there was cottage country, where high winds came through and pushed a canoe literally through the walls of a cottage. And it was something out of a movie and I said wow, that's amazing. So when I saw that kind of devastation in person in the Deep South. That's, that's okay. This is where I want to be. And giving my time my efforts as a volunteer is for people who go through this kind of disaster.
Dan Seguin 05:13
Okay. Now, what are some of the roles you've had with the organization?
Guy Lepage 05:20
I guess the main role has been as a personal disaster assistance team member, and I will PDA for short, that's when we respond to house fires. So you know, God forbid you and your family, there's a fire at your home at two o'clock in the morning, two volunteers will show up at your home and make sure you've got a place this day and give you gift cards. So you can buy food and clothing if need be. So I've done that the entire time, my 17 years with the Red Cross. I've also been a site manager, when there is a disaster. For example, in the Ottawa area after the tornadoes a few years ago, there were different shelters set up information centers. So someone had to run those centers to make sure they were properly run and offered the services that were needed. So I've been a site manager. And basically, it's other duties as assigned. The Red Cross is very good at training us to do all kinds of things in emergency management.
Dan Seguin 06:16
Okay, I've got a follow up question here. Now, Curiosity is getting the best of me. Talk to me about the role that was the most difficult. And what was the most memorable?
Wow, that's kind of like asking a parent which is their favorite child. I mean, I've been on 18 deployments in Canada, the US, Haiti and in Europe. So it's really difficult to choose. But I'll give you an example. This past summer, I was in Budapest, Hungary working with the International Federation of the Red Cross. On the Ukraine relief operation, we all know what's happening overseas. And my role was a public affairs officer or media relations officer to tell people in the media what was going on, from a red cross point of view. And we've held a news conference. And we told people inflation is making life difficult. But more importantly, winter is coming. Even though this was August, in the middle of a heatwave, winter is coming. And it's going to be a major issue. And now, if you look at the stories out of Ukraine, that is a major issue because of hydro shortages, natural gas shortages, and so on. So that's a memorable one because as a volunteer, I was part of a major relief operation, you know, who would have thought there'd be that kind of conflict anywhere in the world in this day and age, closer to home. A couple of years ago, there was a COVID lock down into Szechwan First Nation in northern Ontario, a fly in community. So there was a COVID outbreak, the entire community was locked down. So even the local store where they buy their groceries was locked down. So I was up there, the team of 12, where groceries, supplies were flown in, they were taken to the local hockey arena, where we put together boxes of essentials like milk, butter, bread, canned goods, dry goods, cereals, and so on. And we assembled boxes of these goods, and they were delivered, the boxes were delivered by the military, they were the rangers to every household in the community. So people could feed themselves. I mean, talk about basic, bare basic service that we all need. So that was a challenge because we were in the middle of a cult COVID lockdown community. So we had to really, really respect the rules of social distancing, sanitizing wearing a mask, we were goggles, we weren't gloves. And we stayed in a church because there was no hotel infrastructure, and we had to stay in a church. We slept in, and top tents on the floor of the church. And whenever that was the only time I could be without wearing a mask. And as soon as you step out of your tent, you have to wear a mask just because we have to protect ourselves. So that's memorable. But I guess the most memorable cases for me then, is when I show up at two o'clock in the morning, and I'm dealing with a family or an individual who's just been burnt out of their home, their apartment, and they've lost everything that they own. And they just have no idea how they're going to cope with this. Because first responders after firefighters, we're the next people they see wearing the red cross vest, and I'm there to tell them, are you okay? We're going to get you a place to live, a safe place to stay. We're going to give you gift cards for clothing, gift cards for food to help you get back on your feet. And people are so thankful. And I tell you the hugs. And I know it sounds strange to say this in a COVID environment. But the hugs I've received over the years from people who are so, so grateful. It makes it all worthwhile. Whether it's getting up at two o'clock in the morning or responding at two o'clock in the afternoon. People are so appreciative, so those are the big memories I take away from this.
Dan Seguin 10:05
Okay. I read that you've assisted in some big operations all over the world. Can you tell us what some of those were, and perhaps your biggest takeaway from those experiences?
Guy Lepage 10:21
I've been very fortunate then and that I've responded to emergencies across Canada. I've been to three hurricanes in the US, Hurricane Sandy in New York, Hurricane Michael in Florida. And Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana. Well, the Deep South. I went to Haiti in 2010. And as I mentioned, I went to Europe this past summer. So my biggest takeaway is the resilience of people who are affected by a disaster. Um, yes, the initial shock is overwhelming. I mean, no one ever expects to lose their home to a hurricane or a forest fire or an earthquake or whatever. No one sits around the kitchen table and says, Hey, what will we do if we lose our home. So we arrived, wearing the red cross vest to work with local, other responders and governments and we came to the rescue to help them rebuild their lives. So the resilience of people when they get over the shock, they are so appreciative of the work that we are offering the relief we're offering, rather, and they start immediately to rebuild their lives, where am I and my family going to stay? How we're going to feed ourselves and clothe ourselves and get back to normal. So that is, that is the one constant that I can share with you. And the other is, of course, how they are so appreciative. So it doesn't matter where you're from, it is where it happens. They are so happy that the Red Cross and other responders are there to help.
Dan Seguin 11:51
Okay, deep. I'm probably going to embarrass you just a little bit. In November 2021, you received the Order of the Red Cross, considered the Canadian Red Cross highest award, it recognizes extraordinary people who have provided outstanding services at home and abroad. Can you tell us what your service and that honor has meant to you?
Guy Lepage 12:21
Other than my wedding day, and the birth of my children, it's the highest honor of my life, because to be recognized, to do something that I enjoy, and something that I get a whole lot more out of, than what I put in, was just a complete shock. It was emotional, it was overwhelming. I mean, I wear my emotions on my sleeve. So I don't mind telling you that I cried, it was so overwhelming. And, you know, most, I'd say all volunteers with the Red Cross and even outside of the organization, don't do this for the accolades. We do it because we like to volunteer, we like to help people in a time of crisis. And in my case, because I've been doing this for 17 years, I enjoy it so much, I will keep doing it as long as I can. And as I've just mentioned, I get a whole lot more out of it than what I put in. Let me put that into context. Yes, it's a lot of hard work, I deploy for two weeks, three weeks a month, I'm away from my family, my friends, I'm out of my comfort zone, long, stressful days. But in return, I work with other like minded volunteers from around the world. I learned from them, I help people in a time of need. And I tell the new volunteers that I train in my backyard, that you will get warm and fuzzies when you help people. Now by that, you know, we've all helped people in a time in our lives. And if you help someone move a friend of yours, having a bad day and try to console them either on the phone or in person, you know, you feel good about yourself, because you've helped someone you've done something for someone else, you know, because you want to not because you have to or you get paid or anything like that. So I've had the opportunity to do that on a bigger scale. So I've had a ton of warm and fuzzies in my career. All this to say that the Order of the Red Cross was just unexpected, but an incredible, incredible honor. Very good. Very good.
Dan Seguin 14:20
I think it's fair to say that the Red Cross is synonymous with disaster relief. For those that don't know, can you highlight how the Canadian Red Cross gets activated in communities?
Guy Lepage 14:33
That's a very good question. Because every time I go out, regardless of if it's a local fire or something big, you know, people say wow, you know, how do you guys do it? We didn't call or you know, we didn't know you guys did this. Most people need to know that we don't just show up on our own. We work with the local municipality, the local government, provincial federal, depending on where the disaster is. We are invited to assist. You may already know that in Ontario, most municipalities by law have to have an emergency management plan in place, which means when there is a need for a shelter, they have designated a school or a community center or even a church as to where the Red Cross and other organizations can do their thing. So we work with all levels of government and local municipalities, other first responders just to deliver the emergency aid that's needed at the time. Now, this could be an emergency lodging shelter, as I said, in a community center, for example, we could set up a reception center where people can get information, they can get gift cards, personal services, or reunite with their families. We offer a wide variety of services. But again, I want to stress that we are invited by the local municipality or level of government that needs assistance, and then we come to the rescue.
Dan Seguin 15:55
Okay. In the past six years alone, Ottawa has had 100 year floods, tornadoes, a Derecho, heat waves, and multiple wind and ice storms. A lot of these events result in lengthy power outages. I know the Canadian Red Cross has been involved with boots on the ground for some of our emergencies here in the nation's capital. What does a typical operation look like?
Guy Lepage 16:26
Every disaster is different. So the first thing that we do is first boots on the ground, work with local governments to assess how bad is the damage caused by, as you mentioned, ice storm, a windstorm, heat waves, tornadoes, and so on. And then we call in the volunteers, the staff, you know, the personnel and the supplies needed to meet the demand. That is the first thing because if you don't know how bad things are, you can't respond appropriately. Now, once we determine what's needed, then we bring in the troops and we bring in the gear and we bring in the gift cards that we need to meet the demand. For example, after the tornado in Ottawa, back in 2018, I was deployed to Gatineau to work at one of the shelters that was set up there where people were staying, and we're also showing up to be assessed for gift cards and so on. So by the time I arrived, the people who had done the advance work knew how many people were needed to work at the shelter. I was one of the site managers, and how many volunteers were needed to meet the demand at the time. So that is the key. How does the operation work? We assess then we bring in what's the personnel and the supplies that are needed to meet the demand.
Okay. Now, wondering if you could share with our listeners, what are some of the ways the Red Cross team helps residents during a crisis?
Guy Lepage 17:55
That's a very good question. We help in a number of ways. The first one would be an emergency shelter, if people have been burned out of their homes, or they just can't go home for whatever reason. And they don't have the funds to go to hotels or they're no hotels available. or for whatever reason, they just have nowhere else to go, they can come to the shelter which can be in a school in a church and a community center. We will set up cots with Red Cross blankets, so people have a place to stay. We set them up to have an area for single men, an area for single women, an area for families, an area for families with family members who need assistance, you know, wheelchairs, that kind of thing. We also set up reception centers where people can show up to get information, they can show up to get gift cards, or just have a shoulder to cry on. We have people who are trained to deal with the psychological impact that disasters have on people. And I can tell you that is as important as giving people a place to stay and gift cards to eat food and clothing. Because it is such a shock. And some people have difficulty dealing with it and they need specialized care. We will distribute funds through gift cards, as I mentioned, and will provide emergency items. For example, hygiene kits, you know, you've lost everything in your home, you don't have your toothpaste, your toothbrush, you don't have your shampoo, you don't have the basics of life that we all come to depend on. We will supply those kinds of things as well. So we are there to help people get back on their feet. And we do the best we can and I think we do a pretty good job. We're always learning to, you know, to get better. But I believe having been around as long as I have. Most of the time things work really, really well.
Dan Seguin 19:43
Now Guy, I read each year the Canadian Red Cross helps more than 100,000 people in Canada. How do people volunteer? What kind of roles are there? And is there a minimum time commitment
Guy Lepage 19:59
There are several ways for people to get involved. The first is emergency management, which is what we've been talking about, and the area I focus on. That's to help people impacted by small or large disasters and emergencies. Now, we're always also looking for Meals on Wheels, delivery drivers, you know, people I think, are familiar with Meals on Wheels. You deliver, you know, hot, nutritious meals to members of the community who are unable to prepare their own food. And, you know, this allows them to stay in their homes for a longer period of time, we have a program called friendly calls, this is where trained Red Cross volunteers or staff members, they talk with adults who are feeling isolated or lonely, for some reason, you know, they've got limited social or family connections, and you know, who feel that they could benefit from having a more social interaction. I mean, during the pandemic, you know, there are a lot of people who were on their own, they couldn't go visit their families. And if you're living by yourself, and you've got no one to talk to, it can have a very negative impact on your well being. So this friendly calls program, you know, someone will pick up the call and say, Hey, Daniel, how you doing? Let's talk and talk about your family, talk about the weather, talking about whatever, just to have a social connection, so you're not by yourself. And we're also looking for transportation drivers, you know, to get people, elderly or disabled people in the community who are unable to use public transportation or other private means. So there are many ways to get involved in the redcross.ca has a lot of information about that. And every program is different. And as far as your minimum commitment, you know, for example, here in Durham Region, and I'm sure it's the same in the Ottawa area. My disaster management volunteers have to fill out their availability for 32 hours a month, and you say, Wow, that sounds like a lot. No, it's not because you're not going to be out and about doing 32 hours worth of work. You're just available for 32 hours a month. And if there isn't, if there's no fire, or no emergency, you don't do anything. Okay, so every program is different. But I want to make the stress the point, again, Daniel, that you'll feel so good about the amount of time that you donate to the organization, whether it's emergency management or as Meals on Wheels, delivery, driver friendly calls, however you choose to get involved, you will feel so good about donating your time and your expertise, that the four hours, 10 hours, whatever the number of hours you volunteered for, will make you feel so good.
Dan Seguin 22:39
Okay, follow up question here. Are you seeing an increase in the need for volunteers? And if so, why?
Guy Lepage 22:47
There are many reasons why there's an increase in the need for volunteers. You know, we've all talked about climate change, and how that that's increased the number of weather related disasters and you look at British Columbia with the flooding, fall of 2021, the forest fires. Those are just a couple of major incidents in Canada and around the world. When it was in Europe this summer, there were massive forest fires all across Europe with an incredibly hot and dry summer that was happening over there. So the more disasters happen, we need more volunteers to step up and deliver the services that we need to deliver. You know, you look at Manitoba flooding, British Columbia flooding I just mentioned mentioned earlier, every spring, they flood out in that community, and they're evacuated to other communities in northern Ontario, where they're living in hotels, until the water recedes, and then they go home. So I've responded to Timmins Ontario, for example, where I was a site manager, making sure that the tuck shops that we operated in hotels were fully stocked where people could get their deodorant, their diapers, their baby food, whatever, why they lived at the hotel. So we are always looking for new people because things happen. And you know, we've helped 9000 people this year and provided over $300 million in recovery funding across the country. I doubt very much that amount is going to go down in 2023. That's just the reality. One more example I can give you. Hurricane Fiona hit the Maritimes on September 24. I was in Nova Scotia in November. And we were still giving out $500 gift cards to people affected by the storm. Two months later. We've helped in the Maritimes. We've provided 5700 emergency items to people. And we've had 520 people, volunteers and staff respond, you know from across the country. We've had seven 6000 conversations with people who needed to talk to someone about hey, I'm having some real psychological issues here, this is having a major impact on my mental well being. So you know, 45 Oh sorry 45 reception centers were set up across the Maritimes. So that's just with one storm, one disaster. So, you know, we've got to be ready to respond to the next disaster which will happen, of course, with a warning or with a little warning. So that's why we are always looking for new people.
Dan Seguin 25:24
Guy, we usually think of major disasters, but let's talk about personal disasters, I read that 97% of Red Cross responses in the last five years have been for personal disasters, what is the most common personal disaster that Canadians experience?
Guy Lepage 25:47
House fires, it's that simple. For whatever reason, it could be a faulty electrical outlet. A lot of times as people leave stuff on the stove, on attended, it spreads, fire starts and spreads, but they happen in a home. And so people get out with their lives and but nothing else. And that's where we show up. When there's a fire at two o'clock in the morning, there will be two volunteers who will show up. And then they will assist the family to make sure they have lodging they have a place to stay, whether it's a hotel or shelter. And then we will make sure that they have gift cards to buy clothing and to buy food and take care of them for three days. And then we're an emergency service. So after three days, and people have to make their own arrangements, but we are there to make sure that they get a semblance of normalcy back as quickly as possible. And you can't do that if you don't have a place to stay, and a safe place to stay. And you don't have any money. And so that's what we do, we make sure that they get back on their feet. And we will give them a hygiene kit, with toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, you know, the essentials of life that we all take for granted. So that's why forest, house fires are the biggest, the biggest sources of disaster in Canada. But if, of course, we are ready to respond to any any kind of disaster and, and, you know, if you live in an apartment building, for example, there might be a fire and another unit. But you might have water damage. I mean, first of all, if there's a fire in the unit, the entire building is evacuated until the firefighters inspect everything and decide who, when and where it's safe to go back in. Now, in many cases, the entire building has to be evacuated and stay empty until major repairs are conducted. And that's where the Red Cross will set up a shelter and a community center and in a school or even the church to take care of people for three days until the authorities deem it's safe to go back into the apartment complex. If it's longer than that, then folks have to make other arrangements.
Guy Lepage 28:00
Okay. Here's a follow up question for you. Sorry about those. Why do house fires occur more often in winter months? And what are the causes,
Guy Lepage 28:13
I'm told by fire officials that it's careless use of pots and pans in the kitchen, you know, leave something unattended, and, and it just causes a fire. But there are a wide variety of reasons. I mean, even though there are fewer smokers in Canadian society, we still get fires caused by careless cigarette use, or kids playing with lighters. I remember one case a few years ago, where there were indeed mum and dad and three kids living in an apartment. And one of the kids got a hold of a lighter and set the drapes on fire. And then of course, it was get out, get out get out. So we responded, they went to some friends, a friend's location too. So we responded to take care of them to arrange for accommodation and food and clothing. And I'm talking to the mom, and she still has soot on her face caused by the fire. And she starts crying and the teardrops are rolling down her cheeks through statements and I'll always remember that image because she was crying a) because it happened but crying that she was so happy that we were there to assist. So it's just one of those images, one of the many memories I have as a responder. But you know, you have to remind people to be very careful with all flammable situations, you know, whether it's a stove, matches cigarettes, just be careful. Just be very, very careful in your home. We don't want to respond at two o'clock in the morning because that means you've gone through a crisis. We will of course, but if you can prevent it that's even better.
Dan Seguin 29:52
This next one is important to many of our listeners. Often we feel powerless during an emergency, particularly when we lose electricity for an extended period of time. What are your recommendations on how people can prepare for emergencies? Is three days still the golden rule to follow?
Guy Lepage 30:15
Yes, three days is the golden rule. You have to plan sit around your kitchen table with your family, or do it yourself and sit and plan for 72 hours three days from now, from the perspective that I can't get out of my house because of a snowstorm, ice storm, fire, whatever the situation, can I stay in my home for 72 hours to carry on a normal lifestyle and a sense that I need to eat, I need to bays, I need medication for people who need medication in my house, you have to plan ahead because if you don't, and you figure, hey, first responders will come and take care of me well, they may not be able to because there'll be taking care of other people with greater needs. So as I said, You need to have enough water. And we're talking three liters per person a day, one liter to drink and cook two liters. To wash and bait. You need to have enough dry goods, you need to have enough food that won't go bad. If you are using an electric can opener, have a manual one. If you depend on the internet and your cell phone, you need to have a crank operated radio or battery operated radio. So you can listen to the local emergency newscast to find out hey, how long am I on my own here, okay. But most importantly, if anyone in your home needs medication, you need to have more than three days worth on hand. I'll give you an example in 2013. Here in the Greater Toronto Area, there was a major ice storm. And major portions of the area were without power for more than three days. We set up a shelter in Ajax where I live. And on Christmas morning, I'm going around the different rooms in a community Senator we've set up where people stayed overnight, there was a elderly gentleman in a wheelchair, who said, you know, last night when I arrived, I only had one pill left for my heart condition, I had to cut it in half. So I've taken half, I'm down to my last half, what am I going to do? So luckily, we had a nurse on hand who was able to find a pharmacy that was open and we replaced his medication. But if this is a scenario that you're in your home with someone who takes life saving medication, heart condition, insulin for diabetes, whatever. And then you can't leave for three days and you run out of medication that could have catastrophic consequences. So always plan ahead to have enough medication, enough pet food and enough water, enough dry goods to survive on your own for three days.
Dan Seguin 32:55
Okay, Guy, are there special considerations for seniors, or other vulnerable groups that we should be aware of?
Guy Lepage 33:05
Medication is the most important one, because I'm generalizing here, of course, but more seniors that need medication than younger adults. But even anybody can need medication. So you've got to ensure you have enough medication on hand at all times. You know, certainly for three days in case you cannot get out for whatever reason. I mean, if a senior is living on his or her own, and runs out of medication, and in a family member who normally takes care of them can't make it, that is a major problem. So you have to plan for every scenario.
Dan Seguin 33:42
Now, besides emergency response, what other programs does the Canadian Red Cross provide that people might not be aware of?
There are several programs and everything I'm going to share with you is available on the redcross.ca first aid and CPR courses. And you know, we all know we should have this course. I've taken it because I have to. I'm a Red Cross volunteer. But you know, you hear oh, yeah, I'll get to that one day. And then you have a family member who has a heart attack or needs, you know, cuts themselves badly. How do we stop the bleeding? That kind of thing. So having a first aid and CPR course under your belt is highly recommended. Transportation: we offer transportation services for those in need that mentioned you know, elderly and disabled people in the community who can't use public transportation. You know, we'll keep people connected in their community by providing this kind of affordable transportation, whether it's medical appointments, even social gatherings or to go shopping, you know, that's another service that we provide meals on wheels. We need drivers to make sure those meals get to the people that need them. This helps people stay in their homes by making sure they eat a healthy diet. They have a healthy diet. We have a mobile food bank, and this service delivers food to persons who are unable to access food banks due to omitted or temporary disabilities, the friendly calls program, that's when you know, someone calls people who live by themselves and who can get lonely. We heard all kinds of stories during the pandemic, where people, because of pandemic rules, couldn't go out and visit friends and family. So this friendly calls program really helps people connect with those who just can't get out of their homes and are lonely. And it's really does make a huge difference. So, like I said, all kinds of different services for different interests and all the details [email protected].
Dan Seguin 35:34
Okay, finally, with everything you've experienced, and witnessed, what are you grateful for?
Guy Lepage 35:44
I'm grateful for my health. I'm grateful for my family. And I'm grateful for the experience that I've had with the Red Cross, because it's taught me many things. But the most important thing is to not sweat the small stuff, when I get back from a deployment where people have lost everything they have. And they've got to start from scratch and go through a very stressful time. And then I'm standing in a coffee shop lineup. And I hear people complain about the service or the coffee is too hot, or they got my order wrong or whatever. I just shake my head and said, Come on, guys, you know, first world problems. I'm grateful for everything that I have. And I'm grateful for the opportunities I've been given to help people in time of crisis.
Dan Seguin 36:28
Guy, we always end our interviews with some rapid fire questions, and we've got a few for you. Are you ready?
Guy Lepage 36:35
K, I'm ready.
Dan Seguin 36:36
Dan Seguin 36:37
Now, what are you reading right now?
Guy Lepage 36:40
I'm a big Stephen King fan. And I'm reading a book called If It Bleeds. I'm behind on my Stephen King reading, because I know there's another one that's been released, and I'm hoping one of my family members will give it to me for Christmas.
Dan Seguin 36:54
Okay. What would be the name of your boat? If you had one? Or maybe have?
Guy Lepage 37:01
No, I doubt it would either be Val after my mother, or Jane after my wife.
Dan Seguin 37:06
Now, who is someone that you admire?
Guy Lepage 37:09
My mom and my wife! They the two most important people in my life. Who teach me teach me so much. My mother who raised me, of course, and my lovely bride who, you know, married 32 years and is still a source of inspiration and my biggest fan.
Dan Seguin 37:26
Okay, moving on here. Guy, what is the closest thing to real magic that you've witnessed?
Guy Lepage 37:34
Oh, wow. I have to say, the resilience of people go through a crisis. I mean, it's, it's so inspiring that people have been knocked down, but they're the get up and shake themselves off and say, Okay, let's start rebuilding our lives. So I think that's, that's magical in its own right.
Dan Seguin 37:53
Okay. What has been the biggest challenge to you personally, since the pandemic began?
Guy Lepage 38:01
I think initially it was the stress - the underlying stress. And when you think back to 2020, when there was no, no cure, no vaccine. And we are all literally stuck in our homes totally go out to the grocery store and other emergencies. Thoughts that that was difficult to deal with. Now unfortunate that I deal with stress as a volunteer and when in through work. That was, I think, the biggest challenge.
Dan Seguin 38:27
Okay. We've all been watching a lot more Netflix and TV lately. What's your favorite show or movie? What are you watching right now?
Guy Lepage 38:36
I'm watching Ryan Reynolds, Canadian actor, as you may know, has his bottom soccer team or English football team over in Wales. And they've done a documentary on that really enjoying that. I'm rewatching Ted Lasso because the World Cup and soccer and football. I mean, I enjoyed it. First time around, and I'm enjoying it now. Anything that makes me laugh, I'm all for.
Dan Seguin 39:02
Well, Guy, we've reached the end of another episode of The think energy podcast. If our listeners wanted to learn more about you and your organization, how should they connect?
Guy Lepage 39:15
redcross.ca has all the information that we've talked about, about the services we provide during a disaster following a disaster and even before a disaster. So redcross.ca is definitely the place to go for that kind of information.
Dan Seguin 39:30
Okay, Guy, thank you so much for joining us today. I hope you truly had a lot of fun. Cheers.
Guy Lepage 39:37
Thank you so much for having me. It has been a blast. Really enjoy sharing my adventures. I truly am a very lucky man to be able to do this. And as I said, share my adventures and thank you for having me, Dan.
Dan Seguin 39:50
Thanks for tuning in to another episode of The think energy podcast. And don't forget to subscribe and leave us a review wherever you're listening. And to find out more about today's guests or previous episodes, visit thinkenergypodcast.com. I hope you'll join us again next time as we spark even more conversations about the energy of tomorrow.