Thursday, October 26, 2023

Salvation Army emergency services is meeting topic

Julie Brown - Special Writer

Salvation Army Emergency Services volunteers
and supervisor Charles McDougall were on hand at
a recent Detroit emergency, helping feed firefighters. 
Charles McDougall and The Salvation Army emergency service volunteers he supervises were recently at the scene of a tragic suicide in downtown Detroit, feeding first responders for more than 12 hours as the scene unfolded. After 12 hours, the event ended tragically as the woman took her own life, McDougall told members of the Westland Rotary Club during a recent luncheon.

“There's Emergency Disaster Services teams all over the world with The Salvation Army,” he told the audience. He said he has been at scenes involving barricaded gunmen, helping feed police and emergency personnel attempting to end the standoff. Most of those scenes, he said, end peacefully.

The Salvation Army volunteers are trained, some in emotional/spiritual care and are supervised by McDougall. Flood scenes, drownings, and often apartment and warehouse fires call for Salvation Army Emergency Services.

Envoy Andrew Barylski of the Wayne-Westland Salvation Army explained the need for the volunteers.

“I know maybe the average person knows The Salvation Army as a thrift store and maybe bells outside a store. Chuck has helped me out on numerous occasions,” Barylski said.

Barylski, co-president of Westland Rotary, said he appreciates working together with McDougall on cases like local apartment fires. Residents are housed temporarily at shelters or in hotels and receive vouchers to thrift stores for clothing and housewares.

“It's just very rewarding for me, very humbling” to serve The Salvation Army, McDougall, a former professional airplane mechanic, said.

He and his family worship at the Dearborn Heights Citadel, where McDougall is bandmaster. He cited a local yearly 9/11 Detroit memorial service and an annual service for victims of the Flight 255 plane crash at Detroit Wayne County Metropolitan Airport.

Once volunteers have served close to home, “They start fanning out to the rest of the United States” to work at sites of emergencies, McDougall said. Those include West Coast wildfires as well as hurricanes in other states.

The Detroit Fire Department handles house fires in that city, he noted, but he and his team go to suburban house fires regularly. They often serve hot dogs, hamburgers and soup to victims and first responders from the canteen, which must navigate poorly plowed streets in Detroit in winter, following rutted road paths.

McDougall, who took the job offer 12-plus years ago, welcomes volunteer inquiries at The U.S. Air Force veteran, also a Detroit Fire Department chaplain, thanked Westland Rotarians for their support of the Salvation Army and other community efforts.