What is the common thread between a man who survived a tragic accident that threatened his life; a family who lost their home to a house fire; and people devastated by a major hurricane and tornado ravaged communities? They have all experienced the caring and compassion of one local Wichita Falls American Red Cross Volunteer.
Mark Triplett started volunteering for the Wichita Falls Red Cross Chapter more than 7 years ago. Since that time, he has given hundreds of local residents the skills to save a life through First Aid and CPR training. It is impossible to know how many lives have been saved through his selfless dedication, but beyond doubt, we all live in a safer community because Mark was there to teach our neighbors how to help in an emergency.
Three years ago, Mark found a new calling within the Red Cross as he became a “Disaster Volunteer.” While he continues to teach Health and Safety classes, he now dedicates countless additional hours to helping people who have had their lives turned upside down by disasters near and far. His position as a “Disaster Action Team" (DAT) member puts him on call one week every month to support victims of area house fires, responding immediately, day and night. His team meets people at the site of the fire to make sure they have a safe place to stay, providing hotel rooms if needed and financial assistance to buy groceries and replacement clothing. More importantly, Mark and his team members provide comfort and guidance, and have even been known to share a few hugs with victims of devastating fires.
In addition to Mark’s work on the DAT team assisting local fire victims, he is a national disaster volunteer who can be sent anywhere in the United States to support people and communities affected by disasters.
In Mark’s own words, “I don’t have a lot of money to give in support of the Red Cross mission, but I have time and I am willing to give it to help people.”
We have all seen photos of the destruction left behind by Hurricane Sandy; Mark spent weeks in New Jersey experiencing the damage first hand. His first day in New Jersey was Thanksgiving Day 2012. The Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicle team that Mark and three other volunteers were assigned to fed over 700 hot holiday meals to victims of this devastating storm on that one day alone. This vehicle is designed to deliver meals and comfort items like blankets and water within the destruction zone, allowing people to stay in their neighborhoods as they try to recover valuables and mementos. During the weeks of 12-hour days, working to provide food and comfort, Mark was touched by the grace and thankfulness of victims and the community as a whole.
This past spring brought Mark’s service a little closer to home. On May 16, 2013, Granbury, Texas, a community of about 8,000 people located 35 miles southwest Dallas, was torn apart by a tornado. Mark, being Mark, volunteered to go to Granbury and arrived just days after the storm. Once again, he was assigned to drive an Emergency Response Vehicle to provide food, and clean-up items such as shovels, trash bags and work gloves to the victims of this storm.
In the days that followed, Mark devoted his efforts working in the dry Texas heat to making sure that every person in Granbury, whether a victim of the tornado or recovery worker; had food, drinks and support as they struggled to return their community to a state of normalcy.
While we are unable to predict where the next disaster may strike, we know that Mark Triplett, as well as many other North Texas volunteers, are prepared to be there for every victim of disaster no matter where disaster hits.