Red Cross meeting proves a success
Published 4:31 pm Wednesday, January 13, 2016
The call has gone out to all of Crenshaw County: Red Cross volunteers wanted.
Last week, Joseph Hilliard, disaster program specialist for the American Red Cross, met with the Crenshaw County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) to coordinate the organization of a Red Cross chapter in Crenshaw County.
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Thirteen local individuals were in attendance and ready to learn all they could about the work of the American Red Cross. Hilliard gave those in attendance an overview of what the Red Cross represents, how it helps the community and also got them fixed up online to become certified.
“It was amazing from my standpoint. At the end of my proposal, they challenged each other to bring in one more person for the meeting we have coming up this Friday,” said Hilliard. As of today, seven of the 13 attendees have already completed the application process. Hilliard has presented at many events like these in the past, and he knows the importance of gathering local support.
“The Red Cross is just a tool, we have the capabilities and infrastructure to take care of a situation and bring in people from across the nation and across Alabama to help out, but it’s important to have local people to take are of themselves because local residents know the area,” said Hilliard. “They have a familiarity and people work better with people they know.”
Two standard training options will be available for interested volunteers: Disaster Action Services and Mass Care Overview. With the Disaster Action Team, volunteers have the chance to go into the field and get hands on experience with the public by helping those affected by disasters. Mass Care Overview teams may be responsible for opening shelters in times of emergency and also with helping in the recovery process. Volunteers will also participate in educational processes and presentations to educate the public on what the American Red Cross does and how they serve the community.
Volunteers will also have the opportunity to become CPR and First Aid certified if enough interest is shown.
“The meeting was an absolute success,” said Elliott Jones, director of the Crenshaw County EMA. “We only have one certified Red Cross shelter in the county, we want to build that up to at least 12. We want each community to have one.”
With the establishing of a Red Cross chapter in Crenshaw County, volunteers will be able to respond anytime a family is displaced due to fire, tornados or any other disaster. Volunteers will play an active part in aiding the community by going to the scenes, gathering information and having Red Cross preloaded cards on hand to allow the families involved to purchase necessary items.
The EMA office has been officially established as the Red Cross meeting center, which will allow volunteers to gather in one centralized location to work on paperwork, computer trainings and anything else they will need during their workday.
Hopefully within the next 30 days, the Crenshaw County Red Cross chapter will be up and running. “If you are part of your own recovery process, it goes a lot quicker and a lot smoother. That’s why it’s important to have local representation because no one will take care of you better than you. I’m excited about the movement that’s going on there,” said Hilliard.
Another meeting is slated for tomorrow at 4 p.m. and will go until 8 p.m. in the EMA office. All interested participants are asked to attend.