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Olympic volunteer sends out secret messages to the world

February 8th, 2010 · 18 Comments

In defiance of VANOC rules, an Olympic volunteer has decided to set up a blog and post comments about the volunteer experience.

He’s sent me a link to his blog and his first post here, for anyone who is interested in following this kind of thing.

 

http://olympicvolunteer2010.wordpress.com/2010/02/04/on-my-training-my-drive-to-the-olympics-and-no-sleep/

On my training .. my drive to the Olympics and no sleep

I have come to the conclusion that getting trained to be an Olympic volunteer has been truly a unique once in a lifetime experience. As someone who has coordinated volunteers, I came into this process very interested in how VANOC was going to manage 25,000 people. When working with volunteers the first concern often goes to issues of safety. For example, I know that the provision of a safe workplace is one of the first steps one must take. And, with all the collective experience of the Olympics, it goes without saying that VANOC would provide a safe workplace for its “workforce” of volunteers … right?

The Olympic volunteer manual states clearly that “as part of our commitment to a safe work environment we have established certain rules and procedures for everyone to follow to maintain a health and safe workplace for everyone – especially you.” In regards to insurance, such as is mandatory for workers under Workers Compensation Act, the FAQ section of the manual states that “all volunteers are covered under the event that they sustain injury or illness”. Unfortunately we are  volunteers (and not volunteer firefighters), so we don’t get WCB. We were as well not informed in any way and at any time during our volunteer orientation on what our insurance coverage is.

One key component of a safe workplace is the need to be alert and awake, especially if one is responsible for others safety, or if one is operating machinery. So, when i was in my training, and someone asked the question “what is our time commitment as a volunteer”, I was  shocked to hear the response “up to six days a week, 8-10 hours a day”. What was even more interesting was that no one even batted an eye at the time. I immediately started going through my volunteer binder, thinking there is no way that they would WRITE that down now, but yet, there the hours were confirmed in black and white – “A normal volunteer day will be around 8-10 hours, including breaks.” Now as the Olympics is upon us, i can confirm that the other time factor, being how many days a week, is as well true – we are scheduled for 6 days a week, with about 4-5 days off in 30.

I know that many of these volunteers (not me unfortunately) are doing things like driving cars .. to Whistler .. along the sea to sky highway – what is known more affectionately as the  “ski to die” highway. Now, yes, there have been upgrades to this highway, but is the Olympics really trying to say that volunteers who are working 6 days a week, 8 to 10 hours a day, (NOT including transportation to and getting through security on the site), driving Olympians from Vancouver to Whistler, are in a “safe” workplace? Me thinks not!

Anyways, i am reserving judgement on this one. More on how this works out as we move forward.

If you have any stories or things to share please send an email to olympic_volunteer_2010@hotmail.com.

Categories: Uncategorized

  • Julia

    the insurance would not be through WCB, it would be special event insurance. Every street festival or special event that occurs in the City of Vancouver must carry event insurance that indenmifies the city of Vancouver. I cannot for one second believe that this situation is any different. Nobody (not even VANOC) is that stupid.

    Sounds like someone wants to create something out of nothing to feel important.

  • “but is the Olympics really trying to say that volunteers who are working 6 days a week, 8 to 10 hours a day, (NOT including transportation to and getting through security on the site), driving Olympians from Vancouver to Whistler, are in a “safe” workplace? Me thinks not!”

    Frances, your secret volunteer strikes me as what my mother used to call ‘a trouble maker’. While I’m sure that many people who are unhappy with the Olympics will get great joy from his or her posts, I also suspect that this person is fabricating stories…for instance, does the secret volunteer really know for certain that volunteers will be on the road between Vancouver and Whistler, 8 to 10 hours a day, 6 days a week? Somehow, I suspect not.

    ‘Drivel’ is the word I will use to describe the first post.

  • “does the secret volunteer really know for certain that volunteers will be on the road between Vancouver and Whistler, 8 to 10 hours a day, 6 days a week?”

    Arrive at car pool. Pick up car and drive to airport. 1 hour approx. Wait for VIP. Drive VIP to Whistler. 2 to 3 hours. Wait for VIP to attend event. 2 to 3 hours. Drive VIP back to downtown Hotel. 2 to 3 hours. Drive back to car pool. .5 to 1 hour.

    Min – 7.5 hours. Max 11 hours.

    Sounds pretty believable to me.

  • Mr Clean

    me thinks a schmuck be on the loose with loose lips

  • Yeah right!

    I’m working at the Olympics and was given the heads up about the longer hours and limited days off. So what!! I’m there for the experience and will make a point of enjoying it. If people feel compelled to complain, they should go home.

  • OK Chris, yes that’s believable for one day…but are you satisfied that this will happen everyday, 6 days a week, creating the UNSAFE work environment that the secret volunteer alleges? Come on.

  • Bill Lee

    And one of the reasons that more than a third of the Sydney olympic volunteers picked up their uniforms and quit after one day.
    It was too much for zero money and the weather was nice and why stay indoors, or on gate duty during it.
    But that was a summer games, longer, larger and messier in the detailing needed.

  • “OK Chris, yes that’s believable for one day…but are you satisfied that this will happen everyday, 6 days a week, creating the UNSAFE work environment that the secret volunteer alleges? Come on.”

    I’m not willing to dismiss it out of hand before the event has even begun. It may be that once trained for a certain duty, vollies will stay on that duty for a few days or even the entire event, esp. if the volunteer displays a preference or aptitude for certain activities, such as dealing with high-level VIPs. My own experience (paid and volunteer) with special events tells me that a 12 hour day is commonplace, and 16 – 18 hour days are not unexpected, esp. for anyone in an organizational role. John Furlong was on CBC radio last week talking about how long his days were, presumably he will have a driver or two assigned to him for transportation requirements.

    The release and waiver the vollies sign certainly makes it clear that injury or death is possible, however unlikely. I don’t know why an insider’s perspective is so unwelcome.

    http://www.vancouver2010.com/more-2010-information/work-and-volunteer/volunteer-opportunities/ceremonies-volunteers/release-and-waiver-of-liability-and-authorization-agreement/

  • Annette F

    I am convinced that if nothing else, Vancouver is going to lead all previous Olympic host cities in one category-whining.

  • Mr Clean

    Funicelo has hit it on the head: Whine Whine Whine … We should take home home gold on this event… maybe a sweep even

  • Chris

    Has anyone even read the rest of the blog – http://olympicvolunteer2010.wordpress.com/ or are you just jumping to conclusions based on one post?

    From what I can tell the author is just a volunteer honestly commenting his/her experience so far, both positive and negative.

  • “But that doesn’t mean that drowsy driving doesn’t leave a trail of evidence that might be brought up in court, says Darrel Drobnich, senior director of government and transportation affairs at the National Sleep Foundation.

    Drobnich says there are certain characteristics that investigators can look for that might signal that drowsy driving contributed to an accident, such as:

    * Lack of skid marks
    * Lane weaving
    * Time of day: These accidents peak during the late night and midafternoon hours.
    * Age and sex of driver: Most sleep-related accidents involve people under 26 and men.
    * Work schedule: Shift workers and people who work more than 60 hours a week are much more likely to be drowsy drivers.”

    http://www.webmd.com/news/20031001/driving-drowsy?page=2

    Nobody, least of all the author of the blog referenced, is whining.

  • and this:

    “British Columbia’s public car insurer is bracing for higher crash costs when the Winter Olympics come to Vancouver, and that could mean drivers across the province will eventually have to pay higher premiums.”

    http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2009/09/30/bc-icbc-olympics-accident-increase.html

  • It’s a clean sweep …

    Whine, whine, whine …

  • Wouldn’t it be more effective to point out the official policy regarding volunteers and maximum allowable time behind the wheel during a vollie shift, rather than making with the snide comments? Surely there must be one?

    Too funny.

  • spartikus

    Has anyone even read the rest of the blog

    What? Actually read what’s under discussion?!

    That’s just crazy talk!

  • Suck it up, princess

    Oh suck it up – all I hear is “whine, whine, whine”. The next thing I’d expect to hear from you is “where is my benefits package?”

    To make something great happen takes hard work and dedication. I’m sure you’d agree that hard work over the short haul is really not that detrimental to your health. After all, we’ve all done something similar whether it’d be for work or school.

    If you’re so unhappy about it, don’t volunteer and let someone else who has a positive attitude do the job. We don’t need your poor attitude at the Games. My husband and I are both volunteers and have been putting in long hours because we truly believe in letting the world know how great Vancouver is.

  • burgherRaveen

    Can’t help but think how much money the organisation is saving, [capital U] using volunteers. The hours truly sound ridiculous.

    When you think how much grift is going on, let’s start with the security. Quite the budget there. For what, to interrogate Amy Goodman, for instance?

    These long hours and days sounds like the new economy. Hire people as a sub contractors or call them freelancers… company saves.

    There ought to be a point where it is no longer called volunteering, but slavery [to the cause, no less] or free labour.

    The author writes well and is quite informed. Looking forward to more.

    As for the naysayers here, until the author is on oprah with a book called
    A Million Little Pieces, it could be true. Whether it’s all true or not, does it matter? It could be entertaining.