On January 10, 2020 through January 12, seventy staff and volunteers from the American Red Cross Serving Central and South Texas Region received supervisory disaster training. This training is designed to instruct future leaders in disaster relief operations in the Central and South Texas region and across the nation. This is one way the Red Cross fulfills its mission of preparing communities for disasters. Below, hear from one of our volunteers who participated in the weekend long training.
Written by Chris Conn
American Red Cross Volunteer
Ordo ex Chao, this is the slogan for the US Coast Guard’s Incident Management System. It’s Latin for “Order from Chaos” and I often think how well this slogan relates to all things Red Cross. From local disasters such as a home fire where the Disaster Action Team (DAT) members rush to assist a family who just lost everything, to large national disasters where thousands of volunteers deploy to help their fellow Americans. Red Cross volunteers are ready to go at a moment’s notice, but we don’t start off this way. Hours and hours of training combined with the experience of volunteers who have been there in the time of need lead us to continue our mission to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies.
Over the weekend of January 10 – 12 I joined seventy other volunteers as we embarked on the Red Cross Central and South Texas Region’s (CSTR) first Supervisor Academy in recent years. The impact of having so many volunteers ready to step into a supervisory role during disasters will have a tremendous impact on the delivery of the Red Cross mission during disaster relief operations (DR or DRO). These are volunteers who are ready to shoulder the responsibility of setting up a mass care shelter, lead our mental health and disaster health teams and are prepared to help our communities when the time comes.
Andrew Lopez Reginal Disaster Officer for the Red Cross Serving Central and South Texas Region (CSTR), organized this training realizing the long-term benefits that having seventy trained and willing volunteer supervisors will have on future DROs not only in our region, but others as well should the need arise. “My belief is that if we have a regular gathering of key and upcoming leaders, we will build shared values and commitments to each other which will enhance our personal experience and strengthen the consistent success of CSTR,” Lopez said.
The supervisor academy took place in San Antonio, Texas and entailed an vast amount of training. Within the weekend we covered lengthy topics such as Concept of Operations, Shelter Fundamentals, Supervising the Disaster Workforce, DAT Fundamentals, and even courses that involve responding to events with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). As a volunteer myself, it was incredible to see so many people engaged and actively learning about how to further themselves and help the Red Cross.
As we approach storm season, followed by hurricane season, we’ll be ready for the inevitable. Storms will strike, hurricanes will make landfall, and homes will catch fire. As much as we don’t enjoy the aftermath of these disasters, we are trained, and we are Red Cross ready. We will do what we’ve been doing and what we always do. Respond with passion, respond with empathy, respond with care, and most importantly, respond with experience.