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Disaster Assessment volunteers to test skills

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Ellis County – When storms roll through, the American Red Cross rolls out to help. But the organization relies on trained volunteers before the skies become violent.

On Saturday, March 14, newly trained Disaster Assessment volunteers will test their skills during a multi-county Red Cross exercise.

Approximately 160 volunteers will be participating in Dallas, Navarro, Ellis, Hunt, Kaufman, Denton and Collin counties.

The role of a disaster assessment volunteer is to determine the types of residential damage caused by storms or other events. Throughout the mock drill, volunteers will approach specific neighborhoods.

On stakes inserted into the ground, volunteers will have a visual image of a impacted house.

They will have to determine the type of damage and then relay information back to the Red Cross Command Center by way of HAM radio operators or other communication devices.

"This important step is the catalyst to all Red Cross services," said Shelly Campbell, emergency service specialist.

"It’s critical that we have an accurate assessment of impacted homes as quickly as possible," said Cheryl Sutterfield-Jones, chief executive officer, American Red Cross Dallas Area Chapter.

"That step tells us how many meals need to be prepared, how many volunteers need to be activated, how many shovels and rakes we need to have on hand and so much more. It drives the entire Red Cross response."

In the Greater Ellis County area, the Red Cross has partnered with Amateur Radio Emergency Service/ Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services to get the best results from the drill. Volunteers will report to First Baptist Church of Waxahachie at 8:30 a.m., participate in a briefing, and then hit the neighborhoods by 10 a.m. The drill is expected to last until 1 p.m., followed by an after-action review from 2 -3 p.m.

"If you’re interested in becoming a trained Red Cross volunteer, please know it’s not too late," said Cheryl Sutterfield-Jones. "We have a Disaster Training Institute coming up at the end of March and we’ll be offering Disaster Assessment along with many other courses in all of our Red Cross locations."

For information on becoming a trained Red Cross volunteer, go to www.redcrossdallas.org to find your nearest Red Cross location.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross provides relief to victims of disasters at home and abroad, collects and distributes nearly half of the nation’s blood supply, teaches lifesaving skills, and supports military members and families. The American Red Cross, a charity and not a government agency, depends on voluntary contributions of time, money and blood to perform its humanitarian mission.

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