Note: Book Review of Allison Pittman's On Shifting Sand to follow next week in order to share this timely story.
I didn’t plan it. It just happened. After the safety spiel, I followed the other volunteers at the Fort Mac Evacuee Centre through the labyrinth of barriers and toward the work stations. We lost a few to the registration desk, men’s wear section, and the water supply pallets. Next-up, household supplies and personal items, I put up my hand and was ushered to the table labeled MEDICINE. Our leader said you just hand out pain meds, hand sanitizer, that sort of thing. Easy enough. I started to organize the table after being given my brief instructions, “Give the evacuees enough for a week.”
My stomach fluttered a mite when I began straightening catheter supply kits, diabetic lancets, and large wound dressings. The table held a collection of other products like contact solution, antacids, and denture care as well. I’m a long way from a pharmaceutical guru; I don’t even take cold meds. My experience extends from, I used to take Tylenol and now I take Advil. I read as many labels as I could before the first of the evacuees arrived at my station.
Apparently, when you stand behind a table labeled MEDICINE it is assumed you know something about the topic. I fielded questions about cold remedies, wound care, and stomach ailments and then cobbled together supplies from the meager resources. I’m really hoping mouthwash works as sore throat relief. And I’m not sure who eyes opened wider, the evacuee’s or mine, when a fellow worker pointed out the little Turkish pot I was suggesting they used for inhaling steam was actually for pouring liquid into your nostrils.
I extend my sympathy to all of those who have suffered from the fire. How painful to be ripped away from your home and all your “stuff”. Some of them will never see their homes again. I appreciated their politeness and their gratefulness. It was an honour to be a tiny part of their care. Thank you for your patience with the bumbler behind the MEDICINE table!
I received a lot of requests for the following products which were not available and would make great donations:
Headache Medication (Almost Everybody)
Allergy Relief (Adult and children)
Cold Remedies (Day and night)
Sore Throat Lozenges
Muscle Pain Relief (Rub A535 type products)