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Disaster Action Teams (DAT) – Below the Radar but not Invisible - Part 3

Red Cross Volunteer
I would not be afraid to call other captains and volunteers to get as many as needed for serving clients

Dino Ingram is a Red Cross volunteer and contributing writer. This is the final article of a three part series.

Phyllis Marotta is a DAT Captain in Topeka. At sixty she considers herself to be one of the ‘young ones’ in the Red Cross volunteer ranks. From what she’s heard, the average age of a Red Cross volunteer is sixty-five. If that’s true, then at fifty-four, I’m a teenager by comparison.

Captain Marotta’s vocation is that of a full time employee in the Traffic Safety Section, at the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT). Her focus is on media and education for behavioral traffic safety, which is a mouthful.

When asked for some words that best described her she goes with happy, sleepy and sneezy with occasional bouts of grumpy, dopey and bashful. I’m detecting a theme here. She also describes her best vacations as those involving her grand kids.

Phyllis has some history of volunteerism with the Red Cross. She started with the American Red Cross in Osage County in 1998, volunteering until 2002. She became re-involved in 2011 and became a DAT captain about two months later.

Like Gary, the typical calls she responds to are house fires. Normally she’ll have one person go on a DAT call with her, but tries to include a new volunteer with an experienced one, so they can observe. And, she’s not shy about marshaling necessary resources.

“… If something ‘really big’ happens, I would not be afraid to call other captains and volunteers to get as many as needed for serving clients, as well as emergency workers…”

When asked what she believed were the main requirements of a DAT captain, she spoke about the ability to fill out paperwork, caring enough to serve, and having good common sense and decision making skills.

I wanted to know about her most memorable DAT call. She responded with a strong sense of empathy. For her, all calls are emotional, having to work with people who’ve lost most of their belongings. She characterizes those whom she helps as people who need a listening ear. The assistance provided beyond that, is just a bonus. One call did stand out for her though. It involved a grown man weeping over not being able to rescue his kitten from their house before it burned down.

As a Red Cross volunteer we can provide basic needs and connect with hearts, but sometimes things are just beyond our control. Thanks for your commitment Phyllis. You’re a definite asset to the Red Cross and the people they serve.