There’s always something new here on the Bridge. One of the eye openers for me was how people think about giving old clothes and food and labor in the time of a disaster. The general public doesn’t grasp the physical and financial structures that stay in place during the time of a disaster. There is still a need to transport freely given material goods to the victims of the disaster. There’s a need to store material goods until they are needed. Labor support must be able to get to the site of need and be sustained in place. There’s a need to organize the entire response activity. Even cash donations and fund raising efforts occur in the existing network of normal business. The general public doesn’t seem to grasp these realities during times of disaster and donors tend to become disconcerted when you point out that your agency doesn’t have all the additional means needed to make use of those freely given donations.
Being on the edge of the central planning and execution of disaster response is confusing. Nothing seems to make a lot of sense. We took a convoy to the New York area, but we didn’t deploy an ERVs; the feeding vehicles. There was no involvement of the Southern Baptists or the Salvation Army on a public and coordinated basis. A week before the storm, the news told us we should expect 7 to 10 days of power loss after the storm. How much planning room does a week’s notice give the disaster respone people to prepare or pre position relief items? If power was the lost facility, then how long does it take to get portable gen sets strategically placed and plan for food distribution and medical support. There were a lot of people with oxygen bottle problems too. Sure is confusing.
Things are definitely underway here at SEPA Red Cross. Staff is preparing to respond to the pending hurricane approaching from the Atlantic. All sorts of planning is underway and communications are going out in the region to get everyone ready to be safe. It’s really a comforting feeling to see so many capable and forward thinking people focusing on making the population in our region as safe and prepared as possible for the pending bad weather.
Being new to the Disaster Services arena is a benefit sometimes. Depending on the background you bring, there’s lots of opportunities to share information. Coming from a background that includes some insights into “appropriate technology” and “development” fields, I’ve been pleased to find that there are advances in providing solar power to small scale uses,i.e, residential smoke alarms. In a brainstorming, idea sharing, meeting with Judge Renee Hughes, Executive Director of SEPA Red Cross, the problem of the high cost of lithium batteries for smoke detectors was raised. I pointed out the possibility that there were advances in technology that might have solved the problem by using solar cells to power the smoke detectors given the common use of light driven power for low cost calculators. Well today I used Google to find an example of one such application of solar, or light conversion, power to drive a smoke detector. Check it out at the link below:
Disaster response is a really challenging task. It brings you into close contact with the struggles and strains of a family going through the disruption of the incident and their efforts to regain the daily routines of their lives. From people who’ve lost their regular place to stay and have to stay in a strange hotel to the people have children and need to provide a stable environment so the children can continue on in school; disaster responders have to come up with resources, answers, and comfort for the victims. It’s a real challenge.
Americorp gives the participants the opportunity to rotate through the different American Red Cross service department in the Disaster Services unit,i.e., Disaster Communications and Response, Disaster Logistics, Community Resiliency, and Red Cross House. I’ve decided to stay in Disaster Communications because it’s the core service delivery unit where you get to interact with the victims of disaster and deliver helping services. It’s also the place where you encounter the images and stories that characterize the essential reality of the American Red Cross. In Disaster Services you travel to the disaster sites and work directly with the victims and their families as well as the other responders from the Fire, Emergency Medical, Police, and Hazardous Materials fields. It takes a lot to keep your mind focused on the procedures and training and the needs of the clients. Helping people get back to a “new normal” can be draining as well as satisfying.
Hello American Red Cross world. I’ve decided to challenge my photography and writing skills by blogging for SEPA Red Cross. Plan on lots of anxiety and effort. I’m part of a five person Americorp team that has already seen one deployment in Lucedale, Mississippi. There’s lots of opportunities for writing and photography as you engage the American Red Cross’s mission of humanitarian aid. This blog is my initial effort to contribute to the South Eastern Pennsylvania Red Cross’s Public Affairs blogging effort. I see I’m going to have to learn WordPress too.