Getting Red Cross Volunteers 'Ready When The Times Comes'
by: Pat Hernandez, May 29, 2012 10:05:00 am
"... hook 'em in to that little pin."
"Correct, some of them just have holes ... and they are murder to put together."
Volunteers are shown how to assemble a cot that would be used in the event of an emergency. One of the volunteers is Mark Trail with Exxon-Mobil. He says he's been lending his time to various organizations, but it's the first time with the American Red Cross:
"Opportunity to work with a larger organization, lots of training, lots of opportunities to serve."
PH: "Hopefully practice what you preach, huh?"
Trail: "Well, that's right, yeah. Hopefully, hopefully we don't have to use it, but it's good to be prepared in advance. And so, I think it's good to have the training, and that our company allows us the time to have the training to be prepared."
Exxon-Mobil has more than 250 local employees like Anita Taylor, who volunteer for the Red Cross.
"The Red Cross has trained us in the philosophy of the organization and also in shelter operations, so that we understand what is expected when our volunteers are serving the clients who come in to a shelter. Also how to do the basic operations from the ground up literally, setting up a cot, to assisting with some of the mass feeding and care."
PH: "And what do you get out of what you do here as a volunteer?"
Taylor: "On a selfish standpoint? What I get out of it is the sense of knowing that I'm able to help the community by being a volunteer and being a good community partner."
The Red Cross' "Ready When the Time Comes" program is tailored for large scale disasters when many volunteers are needed to set up large shelters.
Spokesman Cameron Ballantyne says it's critical that volunteers can be counted on to be ready at a moment's notice.
"There's gonna be times where we're gonna need large streams of folks to potentially, and we really hope it doesn't happen, but set up large shelters, and to be able to do it safely and quickly, to make sure more importantly, that the folks in the shelter are going to be comfortable and safe."
He says they try to train the volunteers to adapt quickly to different situations, and provide a sense of comfort to residents forced out of their homes.
"These volunteers are going to be charged with making a home for folks that are being displaced from their own home, based on disaster. So its setting up a comfortable spot where people can stay out of the elements, have a place to sleep, be able to congregate with their family ...f riends, and be able to mentally prepare for, respond to a disaster, because their home may be gone."
Since it's almost completely made up of volunteers, Ballantyne says it's their work that helps the Red Cross achieve its mission.
This year's hurricane season officially begins on Friday.