On September 13, approximately 35 Red Cross volunteers from across eastern Oklahoma participated in drill to assure that their damage assessment skills will be honed, ready and sharp for the next disaster.
Damage assessment is the cornerstone of Red Cross relief operations, impacting critical operational decisions and assistance to those affected by a disaster. In a large disaster, the first priority for the Red Cross is to provide for immediate needs: safe shelter where families can stay, hot meals and ample beverages. Once the basics are handled, longer term assistance comes into play. And that longer-term Red Cross assistance is largely based on the damage assessment reports gathered by Red Cross field teams.
Red Cross damage assessment is a street-by-street, house-by-house visual inspection of the disaster’s impact to each home. The information is used to help Red Cross accurately plan services.
The September 13th drill, conducted in a Broken Arrow, Oklahoma neighborhood, was designed as a training exercise for volunteers to learn and refine their Red Cross damage assessment skills.
For the drill, the Red Cross pre-placed signs in selected yards. The signs included photos of damaged homes and some listed extenuating circumstances such as those encountered in real-world disasters.
“In a disaster, it’s critical that we have an accurate assessment of impacted homes as quickly as possible,” said Brian Jensen, Sr. Director Emergency Services for the Eastern Oklahoma Region Red Cross. “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 to distribute to those affected and so much more. It drives the entire Red Cross response.”
The disaster exercise was part of ongoing disaster-readiness training practiced by the Red Cross which must stand ready 24/7 to respond to disasters at a moment’s notice.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.