Friday, September 25, 2009

Northern Utah Red Cross trains 150 people in disaster relief sheltering in September

The American Red Cross in Northern Utah reports a surprising and amazing public response to a new preparedness program that offers disaster shelter training.
This fall, the American Red Cross of Northern Utah is offering a Partner Shelter Operations training course to the public.

They have already held 10 courses and have five more coming up – all of them completely booked. Fred Henderson, the Emergency Services Director of the Northern Utah Chapter of the Red Cross, is overjoyed, “The public interest has been amazing! We have already doubled our capacity for those trained in sheltering and we are only two-thirds of the way through this program.” The classes consist of two hours of instruction and a meal. The course covers basic American Red Cross shelter operations. Upon completion, each attendee receives a certification card. The classes were made possible thanks to a grant from the Wal-Mart Foundation for the Northern Utah Prepare Project.

The project funds and facilitates strategic placement of disaster response material resources, advanced training for American Red Cross Disaster Services Human Resource members, collaborative training with partner organizations active in disaster, and it concludes with a disaster drill exercise. If they choose to, those who participate will be listed on the American Red Cross of Northern Utah’s non-Red Cross shelter worker roster, they will have the opportunity to participate in a full scale exercise in sheltering and will be called when needed during real-life disasters. Henderson said, “We have already trained and signed up 150 people at this point! This is a better response than I ever anticipated!”

Henderson said, “All of the current classes are full at this time, but any other groups out there who would like to schedule one of these trainings may do so by contacting us at 801-627-0000.” So far the course has been offered in the following counties: Davis, Morgan, Weber, Box Elder, Cache and Rich.

On average, Red Cross chapters in Utah respond to more than 2 incidents every week; some of them render multiple families homeless. Nationwide, the American Red Cross’s local chapters help victims of major and minor disasters by offering immediate comfort, which may include food, shelter, clothing, emotional support and other life necessities. Volunteers also give comfort kits to victims of fire, flood, evacuations, earthquakes and other disasters. The kits include helpful items like toothbrushes, hygiene items and a toy for children.

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