The American Red Cross has launched a new program that enables them to recruit and train volunteers from local companies and organizations so that they can be mobilized quickly in any disaster.
With the new program, called Ready When the Time Comes, volunteers receive free, specialized training in crucial disaster response, such as shelter operations, large-scale feeding efforts, and damage assessment. In the event of a local large-scale disaster, the Red Cross can count on Ready When the Time Comes corporate partners to support their local efforts. Dow is the local lead sponsor and Grainger, a business-to-business supplier, is the national presenting sponsor.
The shelter demonstration, which took place last week at Eual J. Landry Alternative School, gave an overview of Red Cross emergency services available to those affected by disaster, and featured employees from Grainger, Dow, UPS, John Deere and the NAACP trained by the Red Cross. Many veteran Red Cross volunteers were also on hand.
Overall, around 70 people participated in the demonstration, which focused on registration procedures, cot set-up and distribution of bedding, and food preparation and delivery.
Kay Wilkins, the CEO of the Southeast Louisiana Chapter of the Red Cross, said the program is important because it gives the Red Cross a steady base of volunteers.
“During a disaster response when we are able to get back into a community, I don’t have to make 27 phone calls for 27 volunteers,” Wilkins said. “I just make one.
“One of our lessons-learned from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita is that the government and the Red Cross will never be big enough to do it all – we must all play a role in helping our communities be prepared. The Ready When the Time Comes program engages businesses, organizations and faith-based organizations, ensuring they are ready to respond when disaster strikes.”
The program began when the Red Cross contacted Grangier about a partnership where some of the company’s employees would volunteer during a disaster.
Grangier agreed, and has allowed employees to give eight hours to any disaster response. The Red Cross then trained those employees.
Since then, the program has caught on in other areas, with St. Charles Parish and Dow as one of the most recent additions.
“The whole event in St. Charles just went great,” Wilkins said. “Everyone was energized and a lot of volunteers now have a sense of what it means to help.
“It’s great to see that the volunteers were people from the community.”
If interested in volunteering, contact the Red Cross at 1-800-229-8191.