A deployment day off

By: Michelle Palansky, Canadian Red Cross

“It's a skill to be able to leave work behind. Honestly, it takes years of experience learning how to shut off work, go home, and enjoy your time away. On deployment, it's even trickier as the days are longer and some of the situations require a deeper level of thinking and problem solving.”
A woman in cap and mask taking a selfie with a white tent and blue sky behind her.Marina Dovell has plenty of experience decompressing during Red Cross deployments. She started volunteering with the Red Cross in 2015, after retiring from the Saskatchewan provincial government. Marina is now a member of the workforce readiness team, providing expertise to various operations across the country.
She has supported several large-scale disasters over the years. At the tail end of summer, Marina deployed to Manitoba as a site manager to support the members of First Nation communities forced to evacuate to Winnipeg hotels due to wildfires. She signed up for two deployments in August and September.
For her days off during deployment, Marina has many strategies for decompressing:
  • Quiet time alone in her hotel room
  • Netflix
  • Outdoor adventures
  • Colouring books
“I do adult coloring books. I bring them with me, and I usually do one a day. It helps me relax and maintain focus.”
Strategies for relaxing after a difficult day can be different for everyone but being away from home for long stretches of time can get lonely for anyone.
“Absolutely, I get homesick,” Marina says. “So, I take advantage of social media and use FaceTime with my husband and my kids.”
A building in Winnipeg with unique glass roofSocializing responsibly with your deployment colleagues is crucial, especially during a pandemic.
“One of my favourite things about the Red Cross is getting to know people and socializing with them after hours. It's different now with COVID,” she explains. “You can’t go out with different groups of people every night, but you can try to find that limited social bubble or a deployment buddy.”
Marina has completed her most recent Manitoba deployment and returned home to Balgonie, Sask.

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