Organizations seek disaster-ready volunteersWritten by Kristen Criswell | | firstname.lastname@example.org
When tornadoes hit Millbury in June, hundreds of volunteers came out to lend support to those affected by the disaster. Many of those volunteers were directed through United Way of Greater Toledo’s volunteer reception center.
“After the tornadoes hit we processed a lot of spontaneous volunteers,” said Emily Avery, manager of the volunteer center for United Way.
While the Red Cross provided many previously trained volunteers to assist with the disaster, the volunteer reception center processed random volunteers who came out, Avery said. The center directed individuals to areas they were needed and helped cut down heavy traffic flows, she said.
“It’s important to organize volunteers. Going out without knowing what’s needed, a volunteer’s expertise isn’t getting utilized,” Avery said.
On Jan. 24, Ready U will host its first session of the New Year “Volunteering in a Disaster.”
During the session, a panel of representatives from the Greater Toledo Area Chapter of the American Red Cross, Lucas County Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) and United Way will discuss ways individuals can assist during a disaster.
“It’s a good idea to get involved in the community to see what kind of opportunities are available before a disaster. That way you can get some training in and prepare in case of an actual event,” said Cheryl Murphy, disaster response coordinator for the Lucas County MRC.
Murphy will provide background about the Medical Reserve Corps and how volunteers can get involved, she said. The organization provides assistance during any national disaster that may need medical assistance.
“We assist from flood, tornadoes and pandemic flu to any type of terrorism — small pox or anthrax. Anything that might place strain on a hospital, we’ll assist with,” Murphy said.
Often, MRC volunteers are retired nurses or doctors, but volunteers don’t need a medical background as the organization provides training to its volunteers, she said.
The Red Cross also trains its disaster action teams and volunteers prior to an event, said Diane Dixon, director of volunteer management at the Red Cross.
Dixon will outline training volunteers receive as well as what Red Cross volunteers do on a daily basis at the session, she said.
“Just like in Millbury, volunteers always step up. [The Ready U session] will teach them about what they can do to make a greater impact in the community when there is another disaster,” Dixon said. “Unfortunately there will be another big event. There is always another event.”
Ready U is presented by the Red Cross and Lucas County Emergency Management Agency.
“Volunteering in a Disaster” is scheduled for Jan. 24 at 7 p.m. and will last an hour. The session will take place at Toledo-Lucas County Public Library Main Branch, 325 N. Michigan St.
For more about Ready U programs and information on how to prepare for an emergency, visit ready-u.com.
Toledo Free Press is a media sponsor for the Ready U program.