Bridget Edwards, Stress Consultant Extraordinaire
League member, Bridget Edwards (The Introducer #6, Women’s Empowerment), Stress Consultant, has recently been called upon to use her skills and talents in a disaster situation that was right on her doorstep. Her timely intervention made an incredible difference to those caught up in the emergency situation.
Bridget picks up the story. She explains that fireworks are banned in this Western Cape region of South Africa because of the delicate fynbos biosphere, large mountainous wilderness and strong winds along this coast line. Yet, on New Year’s eve 2018, a party reveler set off 3 boat flares into the mountain behind his house, and within seconds, the fire took off. As fast as the fire crews on foot (approx. 300 firefighters) including helicopters water bombing from above, dowsed these fires out, the heavy coastal winds stoked the embers which blew into unburnt areas where new fires erupted. Fuelled by gale force winds, the fire raged on for two weeks burning more than 14,000 hectares, +40 homes/dwellings burnt to cinders, another 28 damaged, untold numbers of wildlife were lost or euthanatized, and 9 lives claimed.
Bridget’s tiny village was encircled by the fire, and she feared the worst – the helplessness, panic and trauma experienced by villagers being indescribable. Bridget describes how ‘Most [villagers] didn’t sleep for days. Holiday makers evacuated immediately’. Bridget immediately volunteered her services as a Trauma Counselor via social media and at the central community control point. The fire crew and a number of local residents engaged Bridget’s services.
Justin Miller, NCC Environmental Services, witnessed the stress that coping with the fire wrought on the Wildland Firefighters. He highlights how many firefighters and other first responders suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It is typically caused by a stressful, frightening, or distressful event, or prolonged exposure to traumatic experiences. Climatic changes are creating conditions that make firefighting seasons longer, which means that firefighters are exposed to traumatic experiences for longer periods of time. Firefighters who fight wild fires usually also work long hours and double shifts. Exhaustion combined with severe stress increases the frequency and intensity of PTSD in firefighters.
He remarks: ‘Firefighters continuously worry about the situation becoming dangerously out of control and losing comrades or their own lives. Those who choose to fight wildfires constantly fear getting trapped or losing their lives to extreme heat’.
He goes on to say: ‘On realising that both members of the public and firefighters were requiring counseling to deal with this trauma, Bridget Edwards offered her services. With short notice, NCC’s management team contacted Bridget and organized a session with her the following day. A number of firefighters that showed signs and symptoms of PTSD, were encouraged to participate in her group session. This session proved incredibly useful, and the results were almost immediate. On entering the session, many of the firefighters were clearly dejected and disheartened, but following the session, they were all relieved, content, reinvigorated and confident to continue. All of the firefighters that participated in the session were incredibly grateful and appreciative. Profoundly, all of them explained that they had learnt how not to take personal responsibility for such an uncontrollable event.’
Bridget’s intervention played a pivotal role in the moment and afterwards in helping the fire fighters and local people to survive (and continue functioning) throughout a traumatic, unexpected event that drew on all their resources.
We think that Bridget deserves the highest level of recognition for her supporting role here. We’re full of praise for her services and are even more pleased to learn that they can be delivered remotely too! This means that everyone can benefit from her skills as a Stress Consultant. To connect with Bridget, please drop a note to Mary (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Annie (email@example.com).
#TechforGood – the modern day super power
Harnessing #TechforGood is one of many opportunities that the League Members excel at to accelerate social impact. When this is combined with strengthening networks, it becomes an ever more powerful tool. Ken Goodwin’s (The Introducer #3) company, Jeanesis, is partnering with the New York Institute of Technology to co-host the 2nd Annual Blockchain, FinTech and AI event, entitled, “Globally Local” on May 1st in New York City. He’s already reached out to some League Members leading in blockchain to serve on the panels.
Meanwhile, the League Members from the Women Leaders in Blockchain (The Introducer #11) are still building their network. With their third teleconf call booked for this month, they’ve also swapped details of blockchain events that they’re planning to attend in 2019, giving them the opportunity to meet up in-person if they happen to be in the same place at the same time.
Photo Credit: Elias Castillo on Unsplash
The Frontrunners League First Youth Member
Some news from Mary:
‘Introducing one of our first youth members of The Frontrunners League (Frontrunners Youth League) and a mentee of mine, Marley Dozier – Marley has a deep interest in healthcare and is preparing for a trip to The Johns Hopkins University over the summer to explore a medical career more closely. Let’s encourage with words of wisdom and support her any way you can. If you know of someone (high school sophomore to college junior) who is entrepreneurial with a social impact spirit and has some evidence of leadership qualities – have them get in touch.’
Looking forward to seeing some intergenerational networking and opportunities developing between Marley and the rest of the League.
Keep an eye out for more information about Marley’s story in the forthcoming issue of The Introducer.
Keep on sending us your updates and networking interests. You can contact Mary (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Annie (email@example.com). Also, feel free to share any comments on the blog in the space below.