The BC Nurses Union (BCNU) is slowly picking up the pieces from the hectic summer that was dominated by the raging wildfires.

This year’s crisis was the first of its kind according to BCNU acting president, Christine Sorenson.

“I’ve been a nurse for 28 years and I don’t remember a summer that was so focused on the needs of such a large number of people spread across such a very large portion of the province.”

The wildfire recovery phase has begun following the most expensive and destructive season in the province’s history with 1.2 a million hectares burned and $510 million dollars in suppression efforts.

Sorenson adds there is a growing concern for the well-being of healthcare professionals and evacuees.

“It is common to see an increase in cases of alcohol and drug use, domestic abuse and a variety of other health issues. We certainly think mental health can be impacted as mentally is critical to their personal health and well-being.”

“We offer to our own members our personal resilience workshop, we have also reached out to the ministry of health and shared the details of the workshop in an effort to share that information in those affected communities.”

The 2017 wildfire crisis saw thousands of people being evacuated from the Cariboo and heading to places like Prince George and Kamloops.

Over 11,000 evacuees found their way to PG – almost of that number was billeted by complete strangers.

Despite the hectic situation, the quality of care never wavered.

“Care was prioritized,” added Sorenson. “Those people in this province got the required nursing and medical care in a timely fashion, everyone stepped up to ensure the citizens of BC were getting the health care they needed when they needed it.”

Notes are being taken from the Fort McMurray disaster last spring and that the recovery phase can be just as sensitive as the disaster itself.

The BCNU recently donated $10,000 to the United Way’s BC Wildfire Recovery Fund – an effort that has since been matched by other nurses unions across the country.