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Alberta’s wildfires: let’s take care of each other

May 17, 2023
A thank-you message to pharmacy teams from ACP registrar Greg Eberhart.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned through the many natural disasters and public health emergencies our province has faced in recent years, it’s that Albertans are resilient—and that includes their pharmacy teams. Pharmacy teams are again proving this during the early and relentless wildfire season we are experiencing. Thank you for going above and beyond to care for your community and those families who have been displaced due to the imminent risk their communities are facing.

As we speak, more than 19,000 Albertans have been displaced from their homes, ordered to evacuate as the fires reach dangerously close to their communities. In addition, a number of pharmacies have been forced to temporarily close, often on short notice.

For many of our friends and family members, and perhaps you personally, this is a scary time. A stressful time. With people being evacuated and pharmacies closing, many Albertans are forced to look elsewhere to receive care and obtain the medications they need.

The Government of Alberta informs those who have been displaced to call Health Link (811) or visit their nearest pharmacy for health advice, information on available health services, or to refill their prescriptions. Pharmacy teams across Alberta should prepare themselves for the possibility of helping displaced Albertans in need of care—in some cases urgent care.

ACP’s practice standards allow pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to ensure continuity of care for those who are unable to receive services from their regular pharmacy.

This isn’t the first time Alberta’s pharmacy teams have stepped up to help those in need during a natural disaster. You were there for victims of the Slave Lake wildfire in 2011; the floods in Calgary, High River, and other southern Alberta communities in 2013; and the Fort McMurray wildfire in 2016 just to name three. Unfortunately, this has become the new norm in Alberta and our collective mettle continues to be tested by whatever Mother Nature can throw at us.

While you’re going above and beyond your already heavy workload, please remember to take care of yourselves and each other. Support one another—both your colleagues who work alongside you and those from other pharmacies—just as you do for your patients. A little kindness goes a long way in the middle of a crisis.