Sunday, December 07, 2008

A Little About the Red Cross

I guess I haven't said much about my experience with the Red Cross, and that's kind of a shame because I know I used to only think of the Red Cross in terms of emergency leave (when I was in the Navy) and major disasters. I have been out on two national disaster responses (DRs) this year - in June and in November - and that was fulfilling work, but I've also been out on a dozen house and apartment fires and that was also - and perhaps more - fulfilling.

I spent two weeks in Columbus, Indiana, in June as a client caseworker in the aftermath of the flooding there. You may be asking yourself, as I did, "What flooding in Indiana?" Iowa and the Mississippi got all of the press, but I think we wound up helping more than 400 families in the Columbus area out of the science classrooms at the middle school.

For five days over the weekend before Thanksgiving I was deployed with an Emergency Response Vehicle (or ERV) to Sylmar. With my co-driver (pictured above) we provided snacks and beverages at the bulk distribution site near the client service center, provided meals to the volunteer staff, and drove through the Oak Ridge Mobile Home Park delivering snacks, beverages and clean-up items (rakes, shovels, gloves, etc.) to clients.

The thing is that for every DR that makes the papers there are hundreds of personal disasters, and, when we respond to those, our Disaster Action Teams are responsible for the damage assessment, assessing the clients needs, and providing for their immediate needs consistent with the Red Cross mission and values. I know we did good work in Indiana and in Sylmar, but - pound for pound - I wouldn't trade working with a family through one of the worst times of their lives.

Now, the Red Cross does a lot of other things beside disaster relief: Services to Armed Forces is another program I make time for, Community Education, Health & Safety training, Blood Services, etc. Cop Car takes disaster relief to a whole 'nother level with regional planning.

I'm new to the Red Cross, and still working into my role as a foot soldier; but, on a personal level, my work as a Disaster Assistance Team (DAT) member has been some of the most fulfilling work I've done... which won't keep me from fighting for the keys to an ERV for the next DR.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

We need, desperately need, foot soldiers, AQ. It is wonderful that there are volunteers who are not only willing but able to fulfill Disaster Action Team and Mass Care assignments. You are the type of person that our clients most closely associate with the Red Cross, and who earn us our good name. Kudos and keep it up!
Cop Car
P.S. Thanks for the mention. How kind of you.

5:34 PM  

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