Many people consider themselves lucky to have never been evacuated to an emergency shelter. However, for many others across the country, they tell a different story. Whether sheltered because of power outages from a winter storm, suffered a large apartment fire or severe flooding, experienced devastation from a tornado, evacuated because of a wildfire, all scenarios that have happened, and all scenarios in which the American Red Cross has been there in support.
Red Cross has an obligation when it comes to sheltering and we want others to know our commitment to our communities. Our commitment as shelter workers is to take care of the sheltering needs of people affected by disaster. We are committed to providing shelter on an interim basis while those who experienced a disaster arrange for their recovery or until they are able to return home. We demonstrate this through our sheltering philosophy. As an organization, we pride ourselves on these concepts which focus on shelters as a place of comfort and safety, making it readily accessible to affected individuals, and they must provide a safe and secure environment that accommodates the broadest range of needs in our communities.
In partnership with Chester County Department of Emergency Services, a mass care exercise was conducted this past weekend. Disaster volunteers from all over the region participated in the exercise in Chester County at Valley Forge Middle School, which helped to prepare our workforce in sheltering through hands-on experience. Over 40 volunteers participated and practiced activities such as, dormitory (setting up cots in the sleeping area), feeding, information (how we would distribute important messaging), and registration. From team workers to shelter managers, who manage all aspects of the shelter, everyone worked together, taking advantage of the learning opportunity.
No one agency can take care of an entire community. During a disaster we partner with local organizations and groups, working together for the same cause. Participants in this exercise included Chester County Department of Emergency Services, Chester County Animal Response Team, Disaster Crisis Outreach and Referral Team (DCORT), Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES)/Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services (RACES), Chester County Food Bank, Tredyffrin-Easttown School District, and Tredyffrin Township.
This was a great opportunity for our volunteer workforce to train and practice under an exercise to better prepare them with the skills and knowledge of what to do during an actual disaster. They are prepared to help communities throughout our region and across the country by providing excellent service. Disaster training is free for our volunteers and we encourage leadership roles with our volunteers who are interested in that responsibility. If you or someone you know is interested in volunteering for the Red Cross visit, www.redcross.org/volunteer to join our team today.