Prince George Fire Department Chaplain
Meet Elizabeth Zook. For years she’s been known as the Chaplain at the Prince George Hospital – but lately she’s been seen wearing a new uniform. Though Elizabeth has been involved with the Fire Department for years, she recently received the official title of Fire Department Chaplain – and with the position comes the uniform. “I love wearing it at the hospital once and awhile”, she says. “At first people thought it was a Salvation Army uniform, but when they took a closer look they saw it was a Fire Department uniform”.
Elizabeth Zook has been the Chaplain at the Hospital for more than 20 years and loves her job. She describes her job as being able to care for people gently, without a lot of politics. She smiles as she explains, “I make friends quickly, and I love coffee”. But in reality her work often involves caring for individuals and families in severe crises.
In the mid-eighties, when the Prince George Fire Department implemented the First Responder program, Elizabeth began providing training sessions for the firefighters on how to talk to people in emergency situations, in providing grief support for victims, and in critical incident stress management for the firefighters themselves.
In addition to her many years of practical experience both at the hospital and in the community, Elizabeth has earned two degrees from the Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena California - a Masters of Arts and a Masters of Divinity. Following an internship at a local hospital in San Francisco, she moved to Prince George in the early eighties and accepted the position of Chaplain at the Prince George Regional Hospital.
Elizabeth explains that, “Firefighters are just like anyone else in many ways. The people that I deal with in the hospital are often dealing with the crisis after it happens, while firefighters have the added stress of anticipating the crisis before it actually happens. This adds a lot of stress (and Elizabeth has seen what this can do to a person and their family). “All too often people in emergency work use various coping skills to make up for where they lack in good stress management”.
Her goal as Chaplain, Elizabeth explains, is to provide support, both formally and informally, to the firefighters and their families. She says, “I’d like to be helpful, be there for them, and if I can, make their job a little easier.”
Elizabeth insists, “I’m available for the firefighters any time – really, day or night. I’m available for formal counseling, stress management, family support or just to talk. I’ll even do weddings for the firefighters if they’d like.”
The firefighters very much appreciate Elizabeth's friendship and commitment to them.