Minnesota Child Life Specialist Deploying to CA Wildfires

Kern fire 1
http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-kern-fire-20160624-snap-story.html Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times

Tomorrow I head off to Kernville, CA to provide support to the children and families affected by the Erskine fires. I have been feeling a range of different emotions since I finally received confirmation of my travel plans; (excited, eager, nervous, honored, and extremely grateful that I have this opportunity). I’ve already figured out that the disaster world is an ever-changing environment with last-minute decisions. Things can happen on a moment’s notice and the willingness to be flexible is crucial. It seems that I should already be prepared for the constant changes, new updates, and constant ups and downs (since working in health care for multiple years), however, the disaster world is an entirely new world for me that I’m learning one step at a time.

I am so thankful that I have the support of my incredible Child Life team and supervisor, without their support, this trip would not be happening. My incredibly supportive husband is also another crucial piece to this puzzle. Without his constant encouragement and support, I’m not sure I would be on a plane to California tomorrow. Having these individuals truly understand the importance of the role of Child Life in these situations, and be nothing but supportive and encouraging, has been a huge aspect of me saying, “Absolutely!” when I received the phone call to help. I’m also thankful to have a great team of individuals serving with me on the Children’s Disaster Services team, I can already tell I have an amazing group of people to work with!

As for now, things that need to happen…packing! I have no idea what to expect when arriving to the shelter. I do know that we will be staying in the shelter with all of the individuals affected by the disaster. I have been informed that this means sleeping on Red Cross cots (which is apparently a new experience in and of itself) and lots of snoring! I’m somewhat nervous and apprehensive about being the second team deployed to CA. I’m hopeful that there will still be a true need for our services and that we can positively impact the children involved. I truly have no idea what to expect from here. What I do know is that I fly out tomorrow morning, and am open and ready to provide whatever support is needed to the children and families affected by these ongoing wild fires.

Stay tuned!
-Paula