by Terri Richards, American Red Cross
At all hours of the day and night, Red Cross team members respond to the call for aid following a disaster that can range from a home fire to a multi-state federally declared disaster. No matter the magnitude, staff and volunteers continually receive training in order to effectively manage these incidents. Some of this training can be completed online, while other portions must be completed in-person.
This past weekend, approximately 170 Red Cross and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) members converged on Houston, Texas to participate in a three day Disaster Learning Institute. During the educational event, disaster responders had the opportunity to learn new information and expand upon the skills they already have.
The institute, organized primarily by Jerry Bauman, Regional Training Lead, offered nine learning tracks that included, Sheltering, Feeding, Disaster Assessment and Warehousing. Attendees participated in vibrant classroom discussions, table top exercises and vehicle obstacle courses for those seeking certification to drive Emergency Response Vehicles and forklifts; but it wasn’t just about training.
Hours spent setting up and tearing down classrooms, preparing meals and the social activities that follow long days of classwork, helped attendees create strong, lasting relationships as well as better integrate into high stress environments. It also helped to strengthen established relationships between Red Cross and CERT members, some of whom volunteer across both agencies and could help facilitate better interagency functions.
The education and camaraderie gained during training events serve to strengthen the Red Cross team and partners by improving response capabilities.
If you are interested in helping the region respond to disasters large and small, please consider volunteering with Disaster Cycle Services. Call 713-313-1608 for more information.