Monday, March 21, 2011

"Be Prepared"

It’s the familiar motto of the Boy Scouts of America: “Be Prepared.”  And it's one that we often harp on here at the American Red Cross.  That's why this past Saturday we partnered with the Scouts of West Seneca to open a shelter during a state-wide Disaster Drill. 
50 Boy Scouts helped by posing as "victims" in the West Seneca Shelter, while 55 other shelters were opened across the state my American Red Cross Chapters.  This drill, while helping our local Boy Scouts hone their incredible acting skills by allowing them to have injuries and other medical problems, allowed volunteers to gain expereience opening shelters and also helped us find areas in our disaster response plans that we need to improve so that when there is a disaster our response will be more effective.
While the "victims" and volunteers were working the shelter in West Seneca, the Chapter here in Buffalo was serving as the Emergency Operations Center, coordinating with regional Red Cross Chapters to make sure that the sheltering efforts across Western New York were running smoothly and fit the needs of the community.
“This drill gave us a chance to test our sheltering capacity, both as a Chapter and as a state,” said Kenneth Turner, Sr. Director of Emergency Services.  “It lets us know what the American Red Cross is capable of doing on any given day if a massive disaster, such as a hurricane on Long Island, were to strike.”
Although it isn't often that we see widespread disasters here in WNY, we did during the October Surprise storm of 2006.  Ever since this disaster, we have been working with Erie County’s Emergency Services, Senior Services, and Health Departments on plans to ensure residents with pre-existing health conditions receive necessary treatment at an emergency shelter.  Saturday's state-wide drill was our first opportunity to engage these new partnerships and set up and test the effectiveness of the Co-Location Sheltering program.   
“We had the opportunity to see how these operations will work, and answer any questions that may arise before we have to deal with an actual emergency,” Turner said.  Less than a week after the disaster drill, those involved will get together to go over what they learned and come up with a strategy to improve operations in the future.  “No matter what else the American Red Cross does following a disaster,” Turner added, “if we don’t shelter well, people will say our response was not successful.”
If you’d like to Join Us as a member of our Disaster Action Team and help us respond to local emergencies and help set up shelters during wide-spread disasters, please contact Mary Walls, Volunteer Coordinator, at 878-2140, or

No comments:

Post a Comment