New Red Cross volunteers get crash course on responding to a disaster

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MOLINE, Ill.(KWQC) –  Flood water is receding and recovery is underway on the East Coast in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. Locally, the American Red Cross is trying to recruit people to help with those efforts. On Wednesday, new volunteers got a crash course so they’re ready to respond.

There are currently 50 people from the 78 county area making up the Central and Southern Illinois Region of the Red Cross who are deployed for Hurricane Matthew areas. That includes 10 volunteers from the Quad Cities area.

“Pretty soon we’ll start damage assessment, bulk distribution of cleaning supplies, and client case work,” said Luke Zimmerman, Disaster Workforce Engagement Manager.

A new round of volunteers is trained to possibly get the call soon too. They went through what was called “Hot Shot” training where new volunteers learn everything they need to deploy to a disaster in just one day. Officials say normally the training sessions take weeks at a time.

Dr. Jayne Booth has lost count of how many times she’s deployed. As Supervisor for Health and Mental Services she’s teaching the recruits about psychological first aid.

“We’re helping them identify the ways people respond to stress and we’re going to talk about ways to deal with that,” said Booth.

The group also learns how to work in a shelter, coping skills, and signs to watch for in those who are displaced. They do that by going over different scenarios. After the crash course Kara Silverthorn says she’s ready to respond. She’s hoping to draw from personal experience in dealing with flooding.

“I was displayed from my home when I was young so I have a little bit more of an understanding from a client perspective so I hope that helps me deal with it from this perspective,” said Silverthorn.

There’s a sense of urgency to help now in light of Hurricane Matthew. Red Cross staff say, with so many disasters in recent years, it’s important to regularly find new people willing to help.

If you’re interested in volunteering for the American Red Cross you can see about registering for other upcoming courses like this. Call (844) 319-6550 and press 8 to speak to a staff member.

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