Responding to local disasters during a pandemic

Just like everyone else, we have been adjusting to the new normal of working under social distancing guidelines due to the coronavirus pandemic, while keeping our focus on our number one priority: the people we serve.  

Home fires have continued to displace families throughout the crisis, and our disaster action teams are determined to find ways to continue providing emergency assistance in a safe, yet effective way with minimal in-person contact.  

Because of their diligence in coming up with a solution, they’ve been able to do just that. 

Last week our team got a call about a single-family fire in southwest Philadelphia. The fire department was on scene and reported that the family was not going to be able to return to their home. The family needed our help, so the disaster action team jumped into action.  

Bob Schmidt responding to a local disaster prior to the COVID-19 situation

Instead of sending a team out to the scene, Bob Schmidt, the on-call Duty Officer, quickly contacted the family and used FaceTime to get a few important details, including observing the damage done to the home.  
Bob, who is also a member of the Disaster Action Team, dispatched Hiwa Shams who volunteered to act as a ‘runner’ to support the response. Hiwa went directly to the scene and provided the resident with emergency assistance and a folder containing recovery materials, keeping a safe social distance and minimal personal contact. The whole response took less than an hour, which helped the family move forward in their recovery more quickly, including help with a place to stay and resources to plan their next steps. 

Through the use of technology, the individuals affected, the first responders and our Red Cross volunteers were able to deliver the Red Cross mission through safe measures during a difficult time. 
Many thanks to Bob and Hiwa for their dedication to teamwork and ensuring that the Red Cross mission endures through this pandemic.  

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