Delivering Effective Disaster Relief
● By Brandi Barnett
A Helping HandJanuary 2007
By Teresa Wilson
Emergency food, shelter and clothing are synonymous with the American Red Cross. For nearly 90 years, the Shasta area chapter of the Red Cross has assisted families in times of tragedy relating to fire, flood or natural catastrophe. “The Red Cross is very proactive when there is a national disaster or potential for a disaster,” said Tom Bourne, Chief Executive Officer.
Providing effective disaster relief begins with dedicated and qualified personnel. The Shasta area chapter is a not-for-profit organization driven by more than 300 volunteers.
There are two divisions in the Red Cross that team-up for disaster response: the Emergency Services Department that deploys volunteers to local and national disasters and the Health and Safety Division that manages the training classes.
The Emergency Services Department is comprised of more than 100 active volunteers who respond immediately to disaster affected communities. Disaster Action Team (DAT) volunteers receive training that includes basic life-saving techniques, mental health counseling and a number of other skills to ensure the volunteer is well equipped. DAT members are the first to respond when calls come from emergency services personnel at our local police or fire departments. Dispatched volunteers set up emergency stations at pre-determined locations for individuals to have a safe and secure evacuation point. The Red Cross works closely with public service agencies to better serve the affected population by coordinating emergency efforts through direct communication.
“There are many subspecialties people can learn, but the main thing we provide is emergency food, shelter and clothing for victims of disaster, whether it’s a house fire or forest fire or something as huge as Katrina,” said Bourne.
The health and safety department of the Red Cross is the education hub for community members who wish to learn life saving techniques and a resource for employees of local businesses who may require work-related training.
One of the unique programs offered by the Red Cross is the ability to locate and facilitate communications with armed forces personnel when a family emergency develops here in the states. Service troops are located through a computer system and by phone, regardless of where they are deployed and in many cases return home within 24 hours. “We can make that notification very quickly and get that person home,” said Bourne.
The Red Cross is a volunteer-driven organization from the board of directors to the volunteers who provide disaster relief in our community and to our nation. The Shasta area chapter has a staff of eight employees that run the office, but the organization is manned primarily by a network of dedicated volunteers. There are numerous emergency preparedness classes available to accommodate most any schedule. Getting the necessary training for work or simply because one chooses to be certified has never been easier. �
For more information on becoming a volunteer or if you wish to make a monetary donation: visit the Shasta area chapter web site at www.shastaredcross.org or call 244-8000.