Imagine something really, really terrible.
It’s 3:00 a.m. and your house has just burned down. You and the family just escaped with your lives. However, your wallet, your ID, your day time clothes, your glasses, even the medications you need are smoldering there somewhere in the ashes. You have no shelter and you don’t know what to do next.
How much would it mean to you if the large Red Cross van pulled up just then and invited you and the family to come inside to the sitting area in the back. You’d find yourself surrounded by concerned people who are there for only one reason, and that is to help you.
A volunteer would provide your family with food vouchers, clothing, shelter and other necessities over the next few days. If there are young children in your family, one of the volunteers would even have a little teddy bear to give him or her, just to try to provide a little comfort. Wouldn’t it mean heaven and earth to you?
The Red Cross Services
Fire emergencies occur in our Tri-County area about 60 times a year, and Red Cross volunteers are there to help whenever they happen. It’s just one of the many services the Red Cross provides.
You probably know about how the Red Cross helps when large scale disasters strike, such as Hugo or Andrew or the North Carolina floods. But did you know about some of the more individualized activities such as the Red Cross Worldwide Emergency Communications Network?
It operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, helping military personnel keep in touch with their families when emergencies occur. In our Tri-County area, there are between 200 and 300 such cases a year.
Alan Lee, Executive Director of the Lower Shore Chapter of the American Red Cross tells a recent example of this. He got a call at home at 10:00 p.m. from a woman who said her daughter was in Iceland at a Naval installation there. The woman needed to tell her daughter that her father had died.
Lee swung into action. By 11:00 p.m., just one hour later, he was able to call the woman back and tell her that her daughter had been contacted. The Navy had arranged for her to obtain a leave, the plane reservations had been made, and her daughter would be landing at the Salisbury Airport on the flight from Philadelphia the next afternoon.
“The woman was flabbergasted,” Lee recalls. “She couldn’t believe we could act so fast. But the fact is, we can get messages to anyone, anywhere within 24 hours, even if it’s to someone in a submarine under the North Pole.”
Non-emergency Red Cross Programs
Some of the Red Cross programs can benefit you, even though you’re not in an emergency situation right now. Taking the Red Cross Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) Course could make it possible for you to save a life some time in the future. The same is true for their First Aid Course.
There’s also a Baby Sitter Course. It takes a day, and it teaches baby sitters how to respond to an emergency. It also teaches the basics, such as how to give a bottle or change a diaper. “It’s a real plus for a teenager to be able to tell a prospective employer that they’ve taken the Red Cross Baby Sitter Course,” says Lee.
Lee would love it if you’d choose to take some of the disaster training courses. They’re free and they’d enable you to be a team member in the world’s largest humanitarian organization. Red Cross Wish List: Volunteers for Disaster Training Volunteers with mental health expertise Volunteers to help with fund raising A back-up generator plus help installing it. (Used but functional would be fine.) Central air conditioning.