Disaster Psychosocial Services (DPS) Volunteer Agreement and Waiver
Health Emergency Management BC, Provincial Health Services Authority
All individuals applying to Health Emergency Management BC (HEMBC) to provide Disaster Psychosocial Services for HEMBC’s Disaster Psychosocial Services (DPS) on a volunteer basis (a “DPS volunteer”) must sign this Agreement and Waiver before being confirmed as a DPS volunteer. Please read the following Agreement and Waiver carefully before signing, as it impacts your legal rights.
Professional Practice and Ethics
- I agree to act in accordance with the PHSA code of ethics and standards of practice at all times while deployed as a DPS volunteer.
- I agree to conduct myself in accordance with my professional/paraprofessional college/association’s code of ethics and standards of practice should I belong to such a body.
- I agree to completing a criminal record check and/or a driver's abstract and understand that I will be advised in advance if either or both are required.
- I agree not to use my DPS volunteer status to imply that I am acting on behalf of DPS unless officially and actively deployed by DPS and HEMBC.
- I agree not to use my DPS volunteer status to imply professional credibility or promote personal interests when this might be perceived as a conflict of interest with DPS.
- I confirm that I have not been previously rejected when applying to the Disaster Psychosocial Services (DPS) nor have I been dismissed previously as a DPS volunteer.
Volunteer Role and Duties
I confirm that I have read, understand and will limit my activities as a DPS volunteer to the roles and duties of a DPS volunteer as outlined in Annex 1 of this Agreement and Waiver (see Annex 1). I am in agreement with the following:
- As a DPS volunteer, I will only be deployed and provide volunteer support in coordination with HEMBC’s Disaster Psychosocial Services, and in accordance with the terms of this Agreement.
- The role of a DPS volunteer is to provide Psychological First Aid (PFA) to persons affected by emergencies and disasters including evacuees, emergency management representatives, first responders, community groups, families and individuals.
- A DPS volunteer does not provide services that are not consistent with PFA such as Critical Incident Stress Management or individual or clinical counselling.
Terms of Deployment
The purpose of the DPS Terms of Deployment (see Annex 2) is to set standards of behaviors and conduct by which all DPS volunteers are expected to abide. DPS volunteers who do not abide with the Terms of Deployment may be removed as a volunteer from DPS. By signing this agreement, I agree that I will conduct myself in accordance with the DPS Terms of Deployment during my deployment.
Volunteers who deploy on behalf of DPS may be provided with insurance coverage either under the Emergency Program Act when deployed at the request of Emergency Management BC (see Annex 3) or under the Health Care Protection Program (see Annex 4) when deployed directly by HEMBC’s Disaster Psychosocial Services pursuant to the terms of this Agreement. The conditions of insurance coverage may change over time.
BY SIGNING THIS AGREEMENT YOU WILL WAIVE CERTAIN LEGAL RIGHTS -
WAIVER OF ALL CLAIMS
In consideration of Health Emergency Management BC, a program of the Provincial Health Services Authority (“HEMBC”) permitting me to be deployed as a DPS volunteer in accordance with the Terms of this Agreement I, for myself and my heirs, executors, administrators and assigns, WAIVE, RELEASE and DISCHARGE HEMBC, and its employees and servants, from any claims, demands, damages, actions, losses or other proceedings arising out of or in consequence of any loss, injury or damage to my person or property which I may have or may hereafter accrue to me as a result of my deployment as a DPS volunteer notwithstanding that any sure loss, injury or damage may have arisen by reason of the negligence of HEMBC, its servants or employees.
I acknowledge that participating in volunteer activities carries with it certain inherent risks that cannot be eliminated regardless of the care taken to avoid injuries. I am aware that while deployed by HEMBC as a DPS volunteer I may be exposed to certain risks, including equipment failures, slips and falls, and normal hazards. I am aware that HEMBC carries no personal property, medical or dental nor any accident benefit or disability insurance on my behalf and that it is my responsibility to ensure that I maintain sufficient personal insurance coverage. I agree that any failure on my part to maintain adequate personal insurance shall impose no financial obligation to HEMBC.
Annex 1: HEMBC DPS Volunteer Role Description
Role and Responsibilities:
The primary role of a DPS volunteer is provide psychosocial support in the form of Psychological First Aid to persons and communities impacted by emergencies and disasters. This includes but is not limited to the following:
- Work with and coordinate PFA support with Emergency Support Services, resiliency centres, emergency operations personnel, and other organizations.
- Assess and provide immediate, on-the-spot Psychological First Aid (PFA) to support to persons and responders as required.
- Support and calm persons in crises; facilitate confidential referrals to organizations and services as required.
- Provide practical information and connections to other services as required such as Emergency Support Services and the Canadian Red Cross.
- Encourage positive self-care among both impacted persons as well as staff and responders.
- A level of education, training and experience equivalent to a Bachelor’s degree in a related field, plus a minimum of five (5) years’ recent and related experience working with clients in the field of social work, mental health, counselling, crisis response, or similar profession.
- Knowledge of stress responses associated with loss, trauma and critical incidents (including emotional, physical, psychological, and spiritual responses).
- Experience in supporting persons who have experienced highly stressful and potentially traumatic events.
- Ability to work with persons who may be struggling with substance use and/or mental wellness.
- Sensitive and responsive to cultural difference and diversity and to LGBTQ2S identified persons.
- Ability to collaborate as part of an interdisciplinary and multi-agency team.
- Be flexible and adaptable to changing priorities in an active deployment situation.
- Ability to work in a stressful environment. Ability to react quickly and calmly during times of crisis.
Annex 2: HEMBC DPS Terms of Deployment
The purpose of the DPS Terms of Deployment is to identify standards of behaviour by which all registered DPS volunteers must abide. DPS Volunteers who violate the Terms of Deployment may terminated as a DPS volunteer.
- DPS volunteers will keep confidential all information while serving as volunteers including information concerning other volunteers, clients, DPS and other organizations.
- DPS volunteers will not provide follow-up (post-deployment) services or advocacy related to emergencies to which they are deployed without written consent by DPS.
- DPS volunteers will not disclose confidential information, unless required to do so by law, or to assist in responding to an emergency.
- DPS volunteers who are placed in leadership positions will exercise their responsibilities consistently and fairly.
- DPS volunteers will respect the HEMBC chain of command and follow reasonable directions given by an HEMBC person in authority.
- DPS volunteers will follow operational guidelines and policies.
- DPS volunteers will not publicly criticize fellow DPS Volunteers, clients, DPS or other organizations involved in an emergency response.
- DPS volunteers will not comment to the media or in social media on any operations they were involved in unless approved by the HEMBC Tasking Agency.
- DPS volunteers will not share their personal phone numbers or other contact information with clients during DPS deployments.
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
- DPS volunteers will avoid real or perceived conflicts of interest.
- DPS volunteers will declare involvement in any form of self-employment or private business which could be considered a conflict of interest as result of their deployment with DPS.
- DPS volunteers will work as part of a team, with personal and team safety always at the forefront.
- DPS volunteers will treat others, including other volunteers, clients, and members of other organizations, with professionalism, respect and dignity.
- DPS volunteers will appropriately care for any materials entrusted to them and return all borrowed equipment and supplies.
- DPS volunteers will dress appropriately while on duty and will refrain from wearing DPS identification when not on duty.
- DPS volunteers will conduct themselves in accordance with the DPS Terms of Deployment. If a DPS volunteer is unclear on any element of the DPS Terms of Deployment, the DPS volunteer will seek out clarification from a Disaster Psychosocial Services Coordinator or alternate.
Annex 3: WorkSafeBC, Insurance and Liability Protection for EMBC Volunteers: Questions and Answers
DPS volunteers deployed at the request of Emergency Management BC (EMBC) are covered by WorkSafeBC, Insurance and Liability Protection. Note that terms of insurance coverage for DPS volunteers may be subject to unilateral change without notice. It should be clearly understood that this information is not legal advice and is provided for guidance only. It is not intended as a comprehensive or exhaustive review of the law and volunteers are advised to seek independent legal advice where appropriate.
AGE FOR VOLUNTEERS
Q. For WorkSafeBC and liability insurance purposes, what are the minimum and maximum ages for volunteers to enroll with EMBC?
The minimum age is 16; volunteers between 16 and 18 years of age require signed consent from their parent or guardian. There is no maximum age.
Q. What kind of liability protection is provided to EMBC volunteers?
Registered EMBC volunteers have three levels of liability protection: Emergency Program Act: Section 18 of the Emergency Program Act, RSBC Chap. 111, 1996, provides exemption from civil liability (unless grossly negligent) for all measures relating to emergencies or disasters. This exemption from civil liability is provided to:
- Members of a “local authority”, as defined in the Act
- Any business or public institution authorized by a local authority or by EMBC under a contract or EMBC task number.
$2 million provincial liability insurance: The government maintains a comprehensive general liability insurance policy with a limit of $2 million covering all provincial volunteers. The policy includes legal representation provided by the provincial government. It is very unlikely that any registered EMBC volunteer would require this coverage as they are provided exemption from civil liability in the Emergency Program Act. Coverage for $2 million is considered adequate based on a government risk assessment. Good Samaritan Act: Under the Good Samaritan Act, a volunteer providing emergency aid to someone is not liable for injury or death (unless grossly negligent).
Q. Who pays the legal costs if a lawsuit, covered by the $2 million policy, is instituted?
The liability insurer (the government) provides a legal defense on behalf of the person named in an action.
Q. Does the liability protection cover persons with professional credentials such as doctors and engineers?
Yes. They have the same coverage as any other volunteer. However, the liability insurance policy purchased by the government does not cover professional errors and omissions liability or medical malpractice liability. Professionals who perform a function for which they are certified or licensed by a professional standards association have a duty of care with respect to their profession. Therefore, they would be held accountable by their respective governing bodies for failure to meet their duty of care, regardless of whether or not they were acting as a volunteer. Acting as a volunteer does not absolve them of their professional responsibilities.
Q. For what types of events does the liability insurance provide coverage?
Liability insurance covers authorized training and operational tasks only; it does not cover fundraising, social activities or public education activities such as mall displays.
Q. What liability do instructors bear when they certify that a volunteer is competent in a certain field?
Instructors and students are included in the liability coverage. However, instructors are provided with course standards to which a person must qualify, and instructors must ensure these standards are not compromised when certifying students.
Q. What is the liability of search managers who are allocating personnel in the field?
Search managers are included in the liability coverage. However, they must act in good faith, knowing the skills and abilities of the searcher.
Q. Are the assets of a society at risk from a civil suit in a negligence suit?
Section 18 of the Emergency Program Act provides exemption from civil liability when a society is carrying out authorized emergency measures.
Q. Does the liability policy cover the directors and officers of a society?
The provincially-funded liability insurance program does not cover the directors and officers of a society while they are acting in that capacity; it only covers authorized operational and training tasks.
Q. When does WorkSafeBC cover a volunteer?
Emergency service volunteers are covered under the Workers’ Compensation Act. For the purposes of WorkSafeBC coverage, volunteer activities are divided into four categories:
- Operational tasks: EMBC volunteers are considered to be “on operational call”; therefore they receive coverage for the travel portion of their response (portal to portal) as well as for the operational tasks.
- Training tasks: Travel related to training tasks is not subject to the same level of urgency, therefore the travel portion is not covered by WorkSafeBC. However, the training exercise itself is covered by WorkSafeBC.
- Demonstrations and competitions: Demonstrations or competitions where there is a significant risk of injury are viewed as an opportunity to test the level and quality of training. A EMBC training task number should be requested. Once assigned a task number, the participating volunteers qualify for WorkSafeBC coverage for the demonstration/competition, but not for travel to these activities.
- Public education and displays: Public education activities, such as mall displays or parades, are not covered by WorkSafeBC.
Q. What does WorkSafeBC pay for if I'm injured?
WorkSafeBC only applies where there is a loss of wages. WorkSafeBC pays partial wage replacement based on a percentage of your earnings. For those who work sporadically, the partial wage replacement is based on a percentage of a number of years’ average salary. Wage replacement does not apply to persons whose present income is not affected by the injury. WorkSafeBC also pays applicable medical and rehabilitation expenses. The maximum WorkSafeBC benefit is based on the average industrial wage which is currently $59,600. The $59,600 maximum applies to all BC workers who receive WorkSafeBC coverage in the province and is not specific to EMBC volunteers.
Q. What does WorkSafeBC pay if someone is killed while on a task?
Funeral expenses, a one-time-only lump sum payment which is over and above the pension amount, and a pension based on a number of variables such as the age of the surviving spouse, the number of dependents and, most significantly, the volunteer’s average yearly earnings at the time of the death.
Q. Will WorkSafeBC cover volunteers if the accident was their fault?
Yes, WorkSafeBC is “no fault” and volunteers would be covered.
Q. What conditions are there for WorkSafeBC coverage?
Volunteers are covered whenever they are registered for an authorized operational or training task (see categories explained in question 9 above).
Q. If an EMBC volunteer is injured and lifted out of a site by helicopter, does WorkSafeBC still apply?
Yes, WorkSafeBC still applies.
Q. Are air crew (spotters) covered for WorkSafeBC while flying in a private aircraft? How does WorkSafeBC respond in relation to aircraft insurance?
Yes, they are covered. WorkSafeBC coverage is primary; meaning no other insurance policy that may be in force at the time of the injury will pay compensation of any kind as long as WorkSafeBC coverage is applicable.
Q. Are volunteers covered for WorkSafeBC while travelling in a vehicle? How does WorkSafeBC pay in relation to ICBC insurance?
Assuming volunteers are travelling to a task after being issued a task number, WorkSafeBC coverage would apply. WorkSafeBC would recover payments from ICBC.
Q. If I use my vehicle as a volunteer for EMBC tasks, how should my vehicle be rated for insurance?
The vehicle should be rated for its normal use; volunteer work with the vehicle does not affect the insurance rating.
Q. How should the group equipment be insured?
EMBC does not provide coverage for equipment. The municipality or group should insure their own equipment, including any vehicles, boats or aircraft.
Q. Does EMBC fund the repair or replacement of privately-owned or group-owned equipment used on an authorized operational task?
Minor Personal/Group Equipment and Property: EMBC will reimburse the full cost to repair or replace, whichever is less, when equipment and property are lost or damaged on an authorized operational task for which the owner was not reimbursed for the equipment or property use. Major Equipment (personal vehicles, boats, generators, etc.): EMBC will reimburse the lesser of the actual repair cost or the cost of the deductible portion of insurance coverage to a maximum of $500, or if not insured, the maximum sum of $500.
Annex 4: Health Care Protection Program - Insurance Coverage for Volunteers
There are occasions when DPS volunteers are deployed not at the request of Emergency Management BC. In such case, volunteer insurance is limited to the Health Care Protection Program (HCPP) for volunteers who provide services to Health Care Agencies (HCAs). Note that terms of insurance coverage for DPS volunteers may be subject to unilateral change by HCPP. It should be clearly understood that this information is not legal advice and is provided for guidance only. It is not intended as a comprehensive or exhaustive review of the law and volunteers are advised to seek independent legal advice where appropriate.
Q. Are HEMBC DPS volunteers covered if they injure a third party or damage the property of a third party?
Yes, volunteers are covered for third party liability arising out of the volunteer duties they carry out while acting under the direction of HEMBC. They must be acting within the scope of their volunteer duties in order for the coverage to extend. This coverage applies both within and off-site of the HEMBC premises and in supervised or unsupervised situations.
Q. If an HEMBC DPS Volunteer is injured while deployed by HEMBC, are they covered for medical expenses and lost wages?
Volunteers do not qualify for workers compensation through WorkSafeBC. However, the HCPP offers voluntary compensation benefits in recognition of the commitment to service made by volunteers where they suffer temporary or permanent total disability, or dismemberment arising from an accident occurring in the course of their duties. Compensation is based on a weekly indemnity amount of $150, with the number of weeks payable varying depending on the duration and nature of the disability. Necessary medical expenses not otherwise recoverable are also included.
Q. Are HEMBC DPS Volunteers insured if they use their own vehicles in the course of their volunteer duties, for example, to transport patients to and from medical appointments?
All vehicle owners in BC must, by law, carry minimum limits of third party liability insurance on their vehicles through ICBC. This policy, in the name of the vehicle owner, would respond first. The HCPP has arranged for excess liability coverage from ICBC which will respond if higher limits are needed.
Q. What coverage is provided by the HCPP for DPS Volunteers?
The program provides liability coverage arising out of a volunteer’s acts or omissions that cause personal injury or property damage to a third party. In order for the volunteer to be liable, they must be found negligent. Negligence implies they did something or failed to do something that a reasonable person in the same situation would or wouldn’t have done. The program covers both the costs of providing a legal defence and the costs to compensate the injured party.
Q. How do volunteers get the coverage?
As long as the volunteer has been accepted as a volunteer of HEMBC they are automatically provided with coverage.