Crenshaw forms Mass Care Group

Published 9:07 am Thursday, March 10, 2016

In light of the recent weather-related issues that Crenshaw County has experienced, Crenshaw County officials from the Emergency Management Agency (EMA), Department of Human Resources (DHR), the Crenshaw County American Red Cross chapter and the Alabama Department of Public Health  (ADPH) came together to form a Mass Care Planning Group for the county.

“Mass Care shelters are set up by Red Cross and DHR in case of evacuations. It’s run by DHR, American Red Cross and EMA. We’re sort of just supportive of them,” said Peggy Hagler, Nurse Coordinator with the ADPH.

The group was organized to provide emergency shelter, food and health care to those affected by an emergency or disaster. The group brings together representatives from essential mass care establishments and prepares them to react in the face of an emergency.

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Each representative was given certain responsibilities based on their department. Elliott Jones, Crenshaw County EMA director, will serve as the chair of the organization, unless otherwise directed by local government authorities. Responsibilities for him will include tasks such as advising the group, coordinating Mass Care activities with the other organizations, providing logistical support for shelters that have been activated during an emergency and more.

Kristi Maddox, director of Crenshaw County DHR, is proud to know that this group will soon be ready and willing to help in times of struggle.

“We primarily are responsible for the opening and closing of the facilities, and it’s determined by the state EMA director and our local EMA director. We provide staff to man and work those shelters. It can only be certified through the Red Cross,” said Maddox.

According to Maddox, part of the code of Alabama states that employees of DHR are to perform duties as administrative support for shelters and for evacuation and hurricane shelters when called upon. In times such as these, workers of DHR are required to work for 72 hours minimum and can then call in other staffing members to help if needed.

“We’ve had to help in other type emergency operations. That’s one of the requirements for working for the Department of Human Resources, you were made aware that you may be required to work any kind of disaster,” said Maddox.

Maddox herself has been called before to other parts of the state to bring relief after tornadic weather took its toll in Tuscaloosa.

During that process, Maddox and her team served as the emergency food assistance unit throughout the state. According to Maddox, her team worked for seven days doing 12-hour shifts, during which they signed people up for emergency food operations.

On a local level, DHR will be responsible for working the shelters when needed.

“I’m very excited that we’re all coming together and meeting more regularly now, because we can’t do it by ourselves. We only have 22 on staff, so if we were to have to open a shelter in Crenshaw County, we would have to have volunteers,” said Maddox.

In the future, Red Cross volunteers will begin creating a volunteer basis for the group to ensure everyone is on the same page with responsibilities and tasks.