A Port Coquitlam man who's dedicated his life to ensuring the needs of the displaced are met to the letter is being applauded by the province.
Ralph Laidlaw was recognized this week by the B.C. government with a public safety lifeline volunteer award in the emergency support services category as he's provided immediate relief to those impacted by crises for nearly two decades.
These are typically situations of natural disasters or other scenarios that force residents to leave their homes, whether it be a fire, flood or other emergencies.
Examples of services Laidlaw has helped provide range from food, lodging and clothing to emotional and informational support.
"And for almost 20 years, Ralph has been one of those who has been there when people need help the most," said B.C. public safety minister and solicitor general Mike Farnworth.
The Port Coquitlam MLA spoke highly of Laidlaw in a pre-recorded recognition video as the COVID-19 pandemic prevented an in-person event.
"As a volunteer, leader, facilitator and team member, Ralph has supported Port Coquitlam in responding to emergencies through emergency support services work and Red Cross calling centres. And in helping prepare for emergencies by volunteering to do various emergency preparation, information booths and training sessions. I want to thank you, Ralph, for your contributions [...] Our community is better with you as a part of it."
According to a statement, the provincial government says there are more than 13,000 public safety volunteers in B.C. that selflessly give their time to help others during emergencies, some have included helping reunite families and communities.
Laidlaw was one of five people recognized for their service from the past year.
The other four 2021 B.C. public safety lifeline volunteer award winners were as follows (in alphabetical order):
- Trent Blair, Prince George = Search and Rescue
- Alida Erickson, Penticton = Lifetime Achievement Award
- Barry Glickman, Campbell River = Radio Communications
- Stefan Lettrari, Kaslo = Road Rescue
Laidlaw is just the third Tri-City resident to earn this form of recognition in the last 15 years.
Fellow Port Coquitlam residents Vasantha Aruliah and Fred Carey won 2014 for emergency support services and in 2006 for Provincial Emergency Program Air respectively.