08/29/05 — Volunteers should train now to help in disaster

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Volunteers should train now to help in disaster

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on August 29, 2005 1:47 PM

Although Wayne County has not been hit by a hurricane this year, the season is not over until the end of November. That still leaves three months during which a hurricane could strike.

Chuck Waller, director of the Wayne County Chapter of the American Red Cross, said most people don't think about it until a hurricane happens. Then everyone wants to volunteer to help with relief efforts.

"The problem herein lies that everybody hasn't been through the Red Cross training," Waller said. "And we don't have the time to train them during the response period. Everyone wants to come out and help once the event has occurred, but it's too late to train them at that time."

Waller said anyone who thinks they might want to help after a disaster hits should take the training now. "They need to be trained before the winds blow and not after the winds have blown," he said.

He noted that people can still volunteer without the Red Cross training, but they won't be as effective to the Red Cross without it. "They could be doing things such as answering the phones, but we really need folks who have the training," he said.

All the disaster courses are free. Everyone has to take the introduction to disaster course. After that he may pick and choose courses in the area in which he wants to volunteer -- mass care, family services, Emergency Response Vehicle and damage assessment.

No specific course dates have been set yet, but the Red Cross will conduct the training in September.

Anyone interested in taking any of the disaster training should call the Red Cross office at 735-7201 for specifics.

Anyone over 17 years old may take the training. There is no upper age limit.

The training is technically good forever, but procedures are constantly changing so it's good to take a refresher course every two or three years.

Waller said disaster volunteers are always needed at the Red Cross.