Four Day Institute Trains Red Cross Volunteers for Disaster Response

Written by David Haas

For four days in June, volunteers and employees of Eastern Pennsylvania Red Cross received extensive training as part of the yearly Disaster Institute.  Held on the campus of Lehigh Carbon Community College (LCCC), more that 140 individuals participated in 45 classes ranging from Forklift Fundamentals to Mass Casualty Incident Response.

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The purpose of the Institute, according to Kate Crowley, Institute Director and Mass Care Regional Program Lead, is to provide Red Crossers with the opportunity to add Group Activity Position (GAP) skills to their disaster deployment capabilities. There are more than 50 GAP skills needed by the Red Cross to support large scale disaster response, including communications, financial support, mass feeding, shelter management, and spiritual care.

In the area of shelter management, for example, Robert Schmidt and Carol Aldridge took more than a dozen participants through a full day of training on the fundamentals of operating a shelter including resourcing, operation, and management of the housing, feeding and safety of shelter guests. This was followed by a second day of hands-on shelter simulation covering the management of guest registration, feeding, and sleeping.

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Other full-day training sessions covered the Red Cross Concept of Operations, Excel skills, and Supervising the Workforce.

Another purpose of the workshop, according to Janice Winston, leader of workshops on Collaboration and Government Operations, is to give Red Crossers a chance to get to know each other.  With more than 3,000 volunteers in the region working in very diverse areas, it can be difficult to connect with others. During events organized by staff and volunteers, the group participated in a BBQ cookout, softball game, and other events.

To see more pictures, visit http://bit.ly/2M3mzAc

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