Team Rubicon Canada Rolls Out Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST)

Last March, Team Rubicon Canada was excited to deliver Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) to 12 Greyshirt volunteers in Calgary.

We have a dense population of veterans, first responders and civilians who are regularly exposed to disaster zones, making suicide intervention a life-saving skill for our volunteers to have.

What is ASIST?

ASIST, a two-day interactive workshop in suicide first aid, teaches participants how to recognize the signs of someone who might be considering suicide. It also helps them develop a plan to keep the individual safe and, ultimately, get them help. The program has been delivered for over three decades with positive results and is updated regularly to align it with the latest research to support the skills learned. Lastly, ASIST seeks to build a network of trained caregivers and create a common language around suicide and suicide intervention.

Why ASIST is Important for Team Rubicon Canada

Suicide rates of veterans and first responders in Canada consistently exceed those of civilians. In an interesting exercise at the beginning of the ASIST course, each candidate was (anonymously) asked to indicate whether they have ever had thoughts of suicide or exhibited suicidal behaviours. The resulting tally was a stark reminder of the importance of learning suicide intervention skills to keep our volunteers safe, and utilizing them with those who have recently survived a disaster.

Participants of the Calgary ASIST course provided this feedback about the value of the program:

  • “Great course, should be more well known.”
  • “As much as it was difficult to bring up events from the past, I felt a sense of renewed confidence, thanks to this course. Thank you!”
  • “I was able to learn skills I can carry over into multiple areas of my life.”
  • “The scenario practice allowed for a more realistic experience of intervention.”
  • “Great training for the mental challenges faced by TR.”

As a mental health professional, first responder and Team Rubicon Canada’s Peer Support Manager, I am absolutely thrilled on many levels to see this program rolled out to our volunteers. The more we speak a common language around mental health, the more vital conversations we’ll have around suicide intervention. I look forward to hearing more about the learnings from ASIST and the successful interventions that result from it.

ASIST offers a valuable opportunity for Team Rubicon Canada to live up to its “Greyshirts Always” motto. We’ve learned to watch each other’s backs in the arena. Now it’s time for us to step up, get trained and provide the best support we can to each other and the communities we serve.

More to Come

Thanks to a grant from the Bell True Patriot Love Fund, Team Rubicon Canada will continue to roll out ASIST to volunteers in 2019, with upcoming courses scheduled in the National Capital Region and northern British Columbia.

Jamie Knight is a registered social worker and Team Rubicon Canada’s volunteer Peer Support Manager

And Then There Were Four: Meet the Team Rubicon Canada Staff

We’re thrilled to announce we’ve hit a significant milestone in our growth as a disaster response charity. Team Rubicon Canada officially welcomes three new staff members to our National Headquarters.

Our organization is now poised to take on a greater, more impactful role in disaster relief operations in Canada and abroad.

Ashley Pardy-Serre, Director of Development

ashley pardy-serreWith a Master’s degree in International Development and another in Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership, Ashley brings a global perspective and deep knowledge of the charitable sector.

Prior to joining Team Rubicon Canada as the Director of Development, she spent 10 years as a nonprofit leader, having served as the Executive Director for a hospital foundation and Co-Director for two charities with the mission of improving health-related inequities around the world using information communication technologies. Needless to say, she’s got the fundraising chops.

Ashley is also dedicated to volunteerism – she’s offered her time and skills to organizations that fight inequality and poverty on a global scale. With her passion for fundraising and commitment to making the world a better place, she fits right into the TRibe.

Ashley is no stranger to the military, as she and her husband, an employee of the Department of National Defence, juggle their professional lives in a military community while raising a family with three terrific (and incredibly fit) kids.

Helen Suk, Marketing & Communications Manager

helen sukAfter visiting 40 countries, and living in both the UK and Thailand, Helen is a true global citizen. She’s a graduate of the University of Toronto, having completed a bachelor’s degree with a double major in Anthropology (specializing in culture) and the Ethics, Society and Law program.

Over the past 15 years, she’s also been honing her marketing and communications skills with a particular passion for digital channels. Helen spent six years as the Marketing Manager for a direct response advertising agency that included nonprofit clients, two years managing email campaigns for a bank and, most recently, as the Marketing & Communications Manager for Canada’s largest charity dedicated to supporting military and veteran families.

She’s also volunteered for Victim Services Toronto where she provided crisis response, intervention and prevention services to those affected by crime and sudden tragedies.

As Marketing & Communications Manager for Team Rubicon Canada, Helen’s excited to have all her passions come together: digital marketing, storytelling, community service, and meeting new people across the country and abroad. She’s also our resident photographer. She wears a lot of hats.

Outside of work, Helen spends her time staying up to date on current events, cooking (and eating!), drinking a lot of Americanos and, of course, globetrotting.

Justin Wright, National Programs Manager

justin wrightJustin is a new staff member but by no means unfamiliar to Team Rubicon Canada. Not only did he volunteer with Team Rubicon USA in Fort McMurray, AB in the aftermath of the devastating wildfires in 2016, he was one of two volunteers to launch Team Rubicon Canada in the same year. We’re proud to have Justin finally join us in a full-time capacity as National Programs Manager after several years of volunteering as a Greyshirt and building our programs and volunteer base.

Prior to Justin’s involvement with Team Rubicon, he spent 10 years in the Canadian Army, which included a deployment to Afghanistan as part of a psychological operations detachment.

When he’s not managing our programming efforts, you’ll find Justin on the ski slopes, hitting a hockey puck, swinging his golf club or playing baseball.

Ashley, Helen and Justin have hit the ground running. We hope you’ll join us in welcoming them to our National Headquarters!

For more on the leadership team, visit our Staff & Board page.

General Dynamics Mission Systems–Canada Announces Support to Team Rubicon Canada

OTTAWA–General Dynamics Mission Systems–Canada is pleased to announce its support of Team Rubicon Canada and the important humanitarian work it does globally. General Dynamics Mission Systems–Canada will equip Team Rubicon with EmergencySHIELD™ – communications equipment designed for disaster zones – so they can deliver more effective disaster and humanitarian response operations at home and abroad.

Team Rubicon Canada launched in 2016 and unites the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy emergency response teams in Canada and around the world. By engaging Canadian veterans in continued service through disaster response, not only does Team Rubicon provide relief to affected communities, but many veteran volunteers begin to regain the purpose, community, and identity that is difficult to find upon leaving the armed forces.

“EmergencySHIELD will be a game-changer for our teams on the ground,” said Bryan Riddell, CEO of Team Rubicon Canada. “Not having to rely on commercial communications systems, which are often unavailable during a crisis or disaster situation, will increase the effectiveness of our teams and improve their ability to provide assistance quickly.”

EmergencySHIELD, part of the SHIELD Ecosystem, is a deployable, dedicated and secure broadband (LTE/4G) communications system that can be deployed with humanitarian relief teams anywhere in the world. Once activated, EmergencySHIELD establishes a persistent, versatile and accessible network that can rapidly share video, voice, data and location information that can also supplement existing radio systems.

“In carrying out their disaster relief operations, the veterans of Team Rubicon Canada are continuing their proud tradition of putting themselves on the line for others. We are proud to support them and their work,” said David Ibbetson, vice president and general manager of General Dynamics Mission Systems–International. “In an emergency situation, reliable communication is essential. When regular systems fail, Team Rubicon can count on SHIELD.”

Team Rubicon’s primary mission is providing disaster relief to those affected by natural disasters domestically or internationally. By pairing the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders, medical professionals, and technology solutions, Team Rubicon aims to provide the greatest service and impact possible. For more information on Team Rubicon Canada, visit www.teamrubicon.ca.

For more on General Dynamics Mission Systems–Canada, visit www.gd-ms.ca.

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Team Rubicon Canada Launches Response To Unprecedented Flooding In New Brunswick

New Brunswick is currently entering the Recovery Phase of the worst flooding in the Province’s history, displacing over 1000 people from their homes, and leaving nearly 7000 without electricity. Nearly 140 provincial roads, bridges, and culverts have been affected by the flooding, with more than 100 roads closed. As the waters begin to recede, Team Rubicon Canada, a veteran-led disaster response organization, is taking action on the ground in Fredericton providing immediate response. Team Rubicon Canada is part of the global Team Rubicon network, the first-ever worldwide coalition of veterans who continue to serve through disaster response.

Team Rubicon Canada will conduct a recovery response in Fredericton to assist in ongoing flood recovery efforts. Team Rubicon’s task force will provide Recovery Planning Support, Volunteer Management and Coordination and Incident Management assignments as needed to affected communities in coordination with local and provincial authorities. 

Team Rubicon unites the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy emergency response teams. Beyond disaster relief, Team Rubicon helps veterans find a renewed sense of purpose—vital as many return to civilian life after more than a decade of war. 

Founded in the wake of the 2010 Haiti Earthquake, Team Rubicon has grown from eight to over 70,000 members with more than 220 operations under its belt. These include the Haiti earthquake, Fort McMurray Wildfires, Hurricane Harvey, and Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. 

Team Rubicon’s response is supported by several partners, including STIHL Inc. with tools and supplies. The nonprofit organization is also accepting financial contributions for its disaster response. To learn more about Team Rubicon’s mission, or to become a supporter, visit www.teamrubiconcan.org.

Team Rubicon Canada Deploys to Brantford, Ontario Following Historic Flooding

Local and regional flooding hit Southern Ontario hard in the past several weeks. Water levels rose seven meters in the Grand River, forcing more than 5,000 people to evacuate their homes. As the ice begins to melt, Team Rubicon Canada, a veteran-led disaster response organization, is preparing to deploy to Brantford to provide immediate response. Team Rubicon Canada is part of the global Team Rubicon network, the first-ever worldwide coalition of veterans who continue to serve through disaster response.

Team Rubicon Canada will conduct a recovery response to Brantford to assist in ongoing flood recovery efforts for the duration of seven days. The organization’s task force will provide Debris Management/Sawyer Teams to the affected community in coordination with local authorities.

Beyond disaster relief, Team Rubicon Canada helps veterans find a renewed sense of purpose—vital as many return to civilian life after more than a decade of war. 

Founded in the wake of the 2010 Haiti Earthquake, Team Rubicon Canada has grown from eight to over 70,000 members with more than 220 operations under its belt. These include the Haiti, Fort McMurray Wildfires, Hurricane Harvey, and Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. 

Team Rubicon Canada’s response is supported by several partners, including STIHL Inc. with tools and supplies, and Apotex supporting the community that they live and work in. The nonprofit organization is also accepting financial contributions for its disaster response.

 

 

BIG News!

We are elated to announce that the Canada Revenue Agency has granted Team Rubicon Canada CHARITABLE STATUS!!!

We would like to thank all of our supporters who have contributed to the success of our organization during this process. We could not have achieved this without all of you championing TR the whole way. We would also like to thank STIHLVallenVia Rail and our kick-ass private donors for their generosity.

Additionally, we would like to recognize and give a massive thank you to the anonymous donor who made a personal $40,000 donation to help get us started! We would love your help keeping the ball rolling by sharing our news with family, friends and colleagues. There are some really exciting things coming up for TR Canada and we look forward to building on the momentum of this milestone.

Let’s get ‘er done!

Deploy in Canada

At the start of 2016, Team Rubicon Canada had only a handful of volunteers; within weeks of Op Pay Dirt in May-June, the ranks of the organization swelled. These volunteers now stand ready and available when their communities are in their greatest need. As we work towards the full launch of Team Rubicon Canada later this year, we expect the deployment pace to accelerate.

Regional Execution

Team Rubicon operates and deploys at the regional level. Emergency management is most effectively executed at the local level and we are expanding our capabilities to match this concept. When an operation initiates, the Membership and Field Operations teams lead the personnel mobilization process. These teams send out the call, vet available personnel, and dispatch members. Selection is based strictly on objective criteria: Proximity, availability, and administrative readiness.
Proximity

Safety Radius – We expand our response radius to approximately 200 kilometres of the affected community. Since some of these deployments can be a long haul, we encourage realistic and safe driving practices. It is important that members do not become victims.

Local members – We strive to deploy as close to home as possible. Locals are personally invested in their community, know it best, and will be there long after the larger relief effort departs. We joined Team Rubicon to continue serving our communities. Local team members are the best brand ambassadors, and they establish instant credibility for Team Rubicon with their presence. Finally, they have strong existing networks giving access to logistics support and unaffiliated volunteers.

group of team rubicon volunteers during operation pay dirt in fort mcmurray alberta

Availability

Immediately Ready – We bridge the gap. Keep your go bag by the door. We keep increasing the speed in which we deploy as a team (although self–deploying is not consistent with our organizational values).

Operational Periods – When the scope of work is limited, we have to prioritize who we deploy in order to ensure we maintain the ability to over-deliver on our commitments. Disaster relief operations are complex. We achieve greater efficiency when we deploy team members for longer periods of time, but recognize the reality that everyday volunteering to support a community in need is a day away from life’s other obligations.

Administrative Readiness

  1. Sign Up Form – You’ve got to be on the roster to get in on the action.
  2. Personal Points of Contact – Leaders must be able to contact members with follow on coordination.
  3. Emergency Contact Information – Disasters are inherently dangerous. If an incident occurs, we need to be able to contact someone on your behalf.
  4. Background check cleared – We must protect our team members and the communities they serve.

Will you be ready when the call goes out?

Team Rubicon has a hard-earned reputation built upon the strong backs and keen minds of you, our team members. We must continue to maintain the high state of personal and organizational readiness for when we receive the clarion call, we can respond immediately with a resounding “Send me.”

Deploying Abroad

 

Deploying internationally is complex and requires a significant amount of planning and coordination. When we arrive on site after a disaster in a foreign country, all eyes and hope have turned to us, expecting immediate action and results. Disasters are no-excuse, results-only zones.

Team Rubicon Canada will sort you out with travel and logistics and take you into the breach, but we need you to cover down on the administrative side of deploying. We are allowed access to vulnerable populations after devastating disasters because we are professionals. We have credentials, we have support and we have rapport. This is built upon brilliance in the basics.

Holding to Team Rubicon Canada’s hard routine requires discipline and individual actions. Your expertise and efforts are needed on the ground, and in order to deploy team members internationally, we screen for the following administrative tasks:

  • Sign Up Form Complete: Your volunteer profile needs to be complete and current. This section holds the most pertinent personal information such as points of contact, emergency contact information, three-letter airport code, allergies, and blood type. We actively seek those who have proficiency in multiple languages.
  • Passport: Valid with an expiration date of no earlier than six months from date of departure.
  • Current immunisation records: Responders must not become victims.
  • Availability: Must have a minimum of 14 consecutive days to support the operation.

Once availability to deploy on an approved international operation is listed, the vetting process begins by verifying your availability and information listed in your sign up form. If administrative criteria are met, volunteers will be immediately contacted with further instruction. Those who do not meet the initial vetting criteria will be contacted after the first wave is dispatched with an explanation detailing why they could not deploy.

Team Rubicon Canada has a hard-earned reputation, and the international community has high expectations for us, especially when Mother Nature stirs up chaos and confusion. We must continue to maintain the high state of personal and organisational readiness for when we receive the call, we can respond immediately with a resounding “Send me.”

Team Rubicon Canada Spins Up

On May 1st, 2016, a wildfire began southwest of Fort McMurray, Alberta that within days would sweep through the city and destroy more than 2,400 homes and displace more than 80,000 residents. The wildfire, which would come to be known as ‘The Beast’, would eventually grow to nearly 1.5 million acres.

Having established a strong and well-known desire to create a Team Rubicon in Canada, a small team of Canadian veterans set to work with their teammates at Team Rubicon USA to assess how to best support the residents impacted by the Fort McMurray wildfire. Working with local and provincial authorities, Team Rubicon Canada joined with Team Rubicon USA to launch its first official operation: Operation Pay Dirt.

On May 26, 2016, volunteers from the USA, Canada – and eventually the UK and Australia – arrived in Fort McMurray and set to work. Operating as a multinational team sharing common skills honed in the military and as first responders, Team Rubicon’s 80 volunteers would train an additional 300 locals to assist over 900 homeowners to sift through their properties to recover their valuables.