Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A day in the life of a Disaster Action Team Member

A day in the life of a Disaster Action Team Member
By Patty Dunn, Disaster Action Team Coordinator
Central Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross

February 28, 2012 at 2:00 am was the first time I had responded to a fire to help a family in need as a new Red Cross volunteer.  Little did I know that within a few short weeks I would become the Disaster Action Team Coordinator for the Central Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross.  Since that first fire I have personally responded to nearly 100 fires right here in the Central Valley.
One of those fires occurred in the early morning hours of April 5, 2012.  Around 2am I received a call about a house fire near Hoover High School.  It was very cold that morning, I believe in the low 30’s, and there was a little bit of a wind blowing.  When I arrived on scene, bundled up in my jacket and gloves,  I came upon a street crowded with 8 fire trucks and engines, multiple members of the media, and neighbors. 

The house was completely destroyed, and the Hansen family, consisting of 4 adults and two children visiting their grandparents for spring break  were standing outside in their pajamas.  Young Amber, one of our Red Cross youth heroes, was the first one to wake up. She alerted the family, saving her grandparents, her two uncles, and her brother. Fortunately, the family got out of the burning home without any major injuries .
The family did not have time to grab a coat or shoes.  Neighbors offered sweatshirts and shoes to protect them from the cold.  Red Cross workers provided wool blankets to help keep the family members warm.
Red Cross offered the family a few nights in a hotel and provided them with some money for food and a few items of clothing.  Afterwards, Red Cross followed up with the family to ensure that they were able to make contact with their insurance company and put the family in touch with Red Cross nurses to provide them assistance with medical needs.

Geri Hansen, Patty Dun, and Amber Stewart
This was only the beginning of a very busy day of my Red Cross volunteer service. Three hours later I headed home to shower so I could go to my regular day job.  On my way to work I received another call for an apartment fire near Olive and Chestnut Avenues that displaced a family of three.  I was able to take one of our new Red Cross trainees with me to show her what we do to help the families.  Finally, around 11am we finished the call and I was able to return to work.
Around 6:00 pm I received a third call for a house fire near Slater Elementary School.  This fire displaced a family of four.  Again we were able to assist the family with shelter for a few nights and provide them money for food and other necessities.
During a 16 hour time period I was able to assist a total of 13 people.  I do not report these numbers to boast but to show how frequently emergencies can occur and how necessary Red Cross assistance can be in the lives of the members of our community.
Every 16 hours on average, Red Cross workers in the Central Valley respond to a disaster that has displaced a family.  Every contribution you make supports the Central Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross, enabling us to help families in need.
I am a member of several volunteer organizations in the community, but my volunteer service with the Central Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross provides me with the opportunity to do the most good for the most people in emergency circumstances.

Won’t you please consider making a contribution of $16 or more to the local American Red Cross to assist families in need?

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