Monday, March 26, 2012

Disaster Response -- Preparedness Planning and In Practice

This past weekend was a busy one for Red Cross disaster services in our region. Activities included both response and preparedness work.

A family in Wilder, VT was in need of Red Cross assistance after a kitchen fire caused enough damage, including smoke and water, that they could not immediately return home. With a few nights lodging provided, and some assistance for food and clothing, the mother, father and daughter received much needed support as they begin their recovery process. The helping hand was extended to this family through the work of our local disaster action team volunteers.

Meanwhile, disaster action team members in Chittenden County were on scene at a Burlington apartment fire, lending needed support to firefighters with rehabilitative services. The food and hydration offered were, as always, a welcome relief to first responders who are often working in difficult circumstances.

This weekend's disaster activities also included a bi-monthly meeting of the Vermont & New Hampshire Valley's Regional Disaster Coordination Team. These gatherings serve as an opportunity for staff and volunteer disaster leadership to review and plan our disaster services response activities. While no two events are alike, and the timing of when a disaster will strike is beyond our control, there is much that can be achieved through working to coordinate our response efforts in advance of an incident. Having this group come together provides invaluable opportunities to keep updated as to the many activities taking place in our constant efort to bring preparedness to ever increasing levels.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Governor's Proclamation Declares March as Red Cross Month

The work of the American Red Cross was honored today in a State House ceremony when Governor Peter Shumlin signed a proclamation declaring March as American Red Cross Month.

Among the special guests in the Governor's ceremonial office for the occasion was Ralph Barrows, who has been a volunteer with the Red Cross for more than 35 years. Ralph, who was an educator for more than 30 years, lives in Stowe. He has been volunteering his time and energy as an American Red Cross health and safety instructor for over three decades, teaching vital lifesaving skills such as CPR and first aid.

Governor Shumlin's proclamation praises the good work of our organization, from the close to 50,000 units of blood collected annually, to the valued and historic ties to members of the armed services and their families, to the vital disaster services provided to Vermonters in need, and more. The Governor took the opportunity to provide particular praise for the work of our disaster services volunteers who supported Vermonters during historic spring flooding and the devastation of Tropical Storm Irene.

In the photo here, Governor Shumlin is seen putting on a disaster services vest before signing the proclamation.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Unusually Busy Year -- Join Our Team & Help

With requests for Red Cross assistance locally up by 20% versus this same time last year, it is more important than ever to have a strong corps of disaster services volunteers.

At an afternoon fire in Winooski yesterday, the four responding volunteers included one disaster services veteran of 20+ years and one who was out on her first call. There is a tremendous need in the community for Red Cross services. Therefore, we must continue to recruit and train new volunteers.

March is Red Cross month and to help mark the occasion, we are offering "Disaster Services: An Overview" at six locations around the region. This class is the starting point for new volunteers, but we also encourage anyone with an interest in the Red Cross to attend. The class is free and there is no commitment involved upon completion.

The courses are being offered in the following locations:

· March 15th, Bennington – 6:00pm to 9:30pm at Bennington Rescue, 120 McKinley Street.

· March 19th, Hartford – 6:00pm to 9:30pm at the Hartford Fire Department, 812 VA Cutoff Road, White River Jct.

· March 21st, Springfield – 6:00pm to 9:30pm at 201 Union Street, Springfield.

. March 21st, Berlin – 6:00pm to 9:30pm at Berlin Elementary School, 372 Paine Turnpike North, Berlin.

· March 29th, Rutland – 6:00pm to 9:30pm at the Rutland Red Cross office, 117 Strongs Ave.

· March 31st, Burlington – 9:00am to 12:30pm at the Burlington Red Cross office, 29 Mansfield Ave., Burlington.

To register, contact Natalie Barrett at call 802-660-9130, ext. 106 (Natalie) or ext. 107 (Angela Russell).

Thursday, March 1, 2012

3 Days, 3 Fires, 3 Responses

It started with an afternoon fire in Charlotte, VT on Tuesday. Then, in the early hours of yesterday, a fire put the residents of a 4-unit apartment building in Morrisville, VT out of their homes. Today, for the 3rd time in 3 days, fire has again struck our area. This afternoon, a Bethel, VT couple has lost their home to fire. In each case, disaster services volunteers with the Vermont & the New Hamphsire Valley American Red Cross responded to help our neighbors in need.

On average, our region has 100 to 115 responses each year. With four months left in this reporting year, today's resposne marked the 90th time our volunteers have been their to help when an individual, a family or multiple families have been struck by fire, flood or other natural or man-made disaster. We can't say that there have been any more fires this year than last, just that the rate at which the Red Cross is being contacted and asked to respond has certainly increased.

While we would much prefer that the people of our region be unscathed by disaster, if disaster is going to strike, we are glad that people know that we are there as a resource to help in the recovery process.