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Service and Sacrifice: Wendy's Impact Inside and Beyond Western

World Environment Day and Canadian Clean Air Day

This year on World Environment Day and Canadian Clean Air Day on June 5, we come together to focus on land restoration and protection.

One of Canada's major threats is wildfires. By September 2023 last year, over 16.5 million hectares of Canadian land were burned, and unprecedented air pollution affected millions throughout Canada and the United States.

Today, we recognize one of many who are working towards protecting our land and our air as a fire fighter/first responder, Western Coast Insurance’s Wendy McBride.

Meet Wendy McBride

Wendy was nominated for her commitment to sustainability and her role in building resilience as a community-minded firefighter, always ready to serve.

Here is what Angela Owens, Claims Manager, Delegated Authority, had to say about Wendy:

“I nominated Wendy for Employee Spotlight for several reasons.

She is an exceptional employee and claims examiner for Western Coast Insurance. She is always smiling and happy to help others no matter what it is. When we are busy or lose an employee, she is always one of the first to volunteer to help with taking claims to help lighten the load for others. She is always a positive role model, always happy to mentor junior employees, and always positively supports her team and the leadership team. She cares about our customers and always helps them alleviate stress when a claim occurs. She shows a positive impact on our community and our partners.

She is a volunteer firefighter in the community (Jaffrey Fire Dept. South Country) where she lives. She attends First Responder calls for the Fire Department and was part of the Structural Protection Crew during the 2023 West Kelowna Fires. She was fighting fires, saving people's homes and livelihoods last summer when Kelowna was on fire. It was a bit of a sacrifice, being away from her family and her local community, but she always stepped up to help others. She is brave and a person who cares for her Western family and the communities we take care of.”

Wendy McBride Firefighter

Wendy with a team member responding to two Spot Fires next to Highway 3.

Q. You were nominated for Living our Value. Why do you feel it’s important to be customer-focused?

I try and put myself in our customer’s position and treat them as I would want to be treated. I do my best to listen to their needs and understand what they are trying to communicate. It is about respecting people enough to listen to them.

Q. How long have you worked here, and what are some of your daily tasks?

I have worked with Western for 7 years. I bring 25 years of experience in property and commercial claims, working with independent adjusters, contractors, and our customers to bring a claim experience to a successful completion. I strive to put our customers back into the same position they were in before their loss and communicate between all parties while assessing risks and monitoring costs for the Insurers.

Q. What’s your favorite thing about working at Western?

Western provides me with a good work-life balance. Western has supported me in allowing me to attend First Responder calls for the Fire Department and to be part of a Structural Protection Unit crew during the 2023 West Kelowna fires. Western and my claims team have also provided compassion and support during a family crisis. I am thankful for my co-workers and teammates who all make it possible.

Q. What’s the most exciting part of your job?

Knowing that when a home sustains a loss, it can be repaired through teamwork with independent adjusters and contractors.

Q. What’s something you find challenging about your work?

Sometimes not being hands on in the field of adjusting, having to rely on others to be my eyes and ears in the field and provide customer care and accurate information to make required decisions.

Q. How do you support our Mission of Exceeding Customer Expectations in your role?

To communicate and be transparent through a claim process. Be fair and truthful.

Wendy McBride Firefighter

Q. Which of our Guiding Principles do you connect with the most (Truthfulness, Fairness, Value, Loyalty)?

They are all important, but the rest follows if you provide truthfulness and fairness.

Q. What inspired you to become a volunteer firefighter?

Initially, I thought I could be of some little assistance to the fire department when they attended motor vehicle accidents. I could just sit with someone during an accident, provide a blanket, hold a dog, or be of comfort somewhere. But when I met the people who were part of the fire department, young and old, with all types of backgrounds and work experience, they inspired me to become more than I ever considered. Their encouragement gave me the spirit to become a firefighter, first Responder and help where needed.

Q. How has being a volunteer firefighter impacted your outlook on community and safety?

It showed me that we have something to give in a community. Individually, we don’t have all the knowledge, but if we share what we know with each other, the community is stronger, and we all have something to add. That makes a stronger team and a stronger community.

Q. What habits can people undertake to reduce the risk of wildfires and protect natural habitats?

Learn and adopt Fire Smart in your community. Lessen the risk of a fire by stacking wood away from your home, raking up leaves and dry grass, cleaning gutters and roofs from pine needles, pruning trees up a few feet, storing the hazardous fuels in a safe location, and knowing the location of a water supply.