Tyler, TX - February 26, 2013 – Wildfires, thunderstorms and certainly tornadoes are all common occurrences across the states of Texas and Oklahoma. That’s why it’s imperative that the American Red Cross, an organization responsible for bringing comfort to Mother Nature’s victims, is as prepared as possible in advance of any unexpected event. On Saturday, March 2, 2013, for the first-time ever, more than 40 Red Cross chapters across all of Texas and Oklahoma will join forces and simultaneously test their ability to respond to a simulated devastating tornado outbreak.
The role of the more than 700 disaster assessment volunteers will be to determine the types of residential damage caused by the mock tornado outbreak. Throughout the multi-state exercise, volunteers will approach specific pre-selected neighborhoods. On stakes that will be inserted into the ground, the volunteer will have a visual image of a home that has been impacted. They will have to determine the type of damage and then relay that information back to Red Cross. This important step is the catalyst to all Red Cross services. Also participating in Saturday’s exercise will be the Cherokee County Ham Radio Club, the Smith County Amateur Radio Club and the East Texas Emergency Communications Services (ETECS).
“It’s critical that we have an accurate assessment of impacted homes as quickly as possible,” said Tammy Prater, American 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 and so much more. It drives the entire Red Cross response.”
In the Tyler area, volunteers will American Red Cross, report to the Smith County Chapter office at 8:00 a.m., participate in a briefing, and then hit the neighborhoods by 10:00 a.m. The drill is expected to last until noon, followed by an after-action review from 12:00p.m-2:00p.m.
“Without question, this drill will help the Red Cross be better prepared for future disasters”, said Prater. “We saw with the outbreaks in DFW and Woodward, Oklahoma last year that disasters can and do affect both of our states. The more we train through exercises like this one, the better we can help our neighbors when they truly need us.”
For information on becoming a trained Red Cross volunteer, go to www.redcross.org.
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.