By REBECCA HAZEN
The Red Cross is looking for compassionate individuals in Dade County that want to help families that are affected by disasters of all sizes, from home fires to hurricanes.
Red Cross is a nonprofit humanitarian, multi-faceted organization that assists with disaster relief, blood donations, international services, military families, and training and certification.
“Our mission is to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies through the mobilization of volunteers and generosity of others,” Tim Suda, disaster work force engagement manager, said.
The most critical needs right now are for Duty Officers to assist with determining if the Red Cross needs to respond to a disaster and assigning a team member to the response, and Disaster Action
Team (DAT) members to assist in the immediate aftermath of a disaster.
A Duty Officer is a team member who determines if Red Cross action is required, and dispatches the team to the call. They work with on-scene DAT leadership to support the response and provide technical guidance.
The DAT members are the responders to the disasters. In Georgia, this is usually floods, storms, and/or home fires. The DAT responds to an average of 1-2 fires per day across the state.
“Our DAT team members meet with the families, those affected, to help them figure out what is next. The Red Cross provides financial assistance and referrals to other organizations. This can be one of the darkest times in these people’s lives. We are able to help them figure out how they can get to whatever normal looks like for them, and move forward,” Suda said.
Red Cross provides all the training to be ready to respond. The training requires access to the Internet in order to complete the required tasks. According to Suda, the training consists of seven classes, all of which are online.
“It goes over general information about Red Cross, and then it focuses a lot on soft skills, communicating with people who have been in a disaster. That is a tough thing to do for someone who has never done that before. We have new volunteers observe our responses,” Suda said.
Volunteers put themselves on-call for at least one six-hour shift per week. This is because it cannot be predicted when disasters will occur in the community and Red Cross wants to be able to engage its volunteers in meaningful work as quickly as possible.
“We focus on disasters of all sizes, from personal home fires to catastrophic earthquakes or hurricanes, to everything in between. The Red Cross is over 90 percent volunteer led. We definitely couldn’t do what we do without our volunteers. They help with every aspect of the organization,” Suda said.
The Red Cross organizes its response teams into territories, which consist of a few counties. The local territory consists of Dade, Catoosa, Chattooga and Walker Counties.
Since Jan. 1, 2021, the local teams have responded to: three home fires in Dade County (serving 13 individuals), 13 home fires, one storm, and one apartment fire in Catoosa County (serving 56 individuals), 14 home fires and one storm in Walker County (serving 59 individuals), and four home fires, two floods, and three storms in Chattooga County (serving 35 individuals).
“We are looking for people who really want to work with people in their darkest hours, people who have that humanitarian heart. We talk a lot about bringing hope and light to the darkness. It helps if people know their community really well,” Suda said.
Learn more at redcross.org/dat or contact the local office at GARecruit@redcross.org or (404) 575-3749.