by CC Sherwin
Last summer, our Red Cross Disaster Assessment (DA) teams were put to the test. The Metro New York North chapter’s jurisdiction was impacted by both Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, both of which wreaked havoc in the area. Red Cross Disaster Assessment teams were on scene, gathering vital information, determining the extent of damages and the physical, emotional and informational needs of the community. These responses highlighted the importance of the Disaster Assessment function, prompting the scheduling of training.
On Friday, Sept. 28, and Saturday, Sept. 29, Red Cross Disaster Responders had the opportunity to convene at the Orange County Fire Training Center in Middletown, N.Y., to hone their skills in both class and field exercises.
“The information DA teams collect in the field helps the Red Cross in responding,” said Sarah Perkins, American Red Cross disaster assessment lead for New York State, who led the training. “We drive the response. Our information collected in the field goes to all activity groups (sheltering, logistics, mass care, transportation), providing key information for needed resources.”
Perkins explained the importance of the training: “DA Responders need to be prepared, fully acquainted with what’s expected of them and be able to respond immediately.”
On Friday, the DA class hosted participants from New York City, Sullivan, Orange, Westchester, Rockland and Suffolk counties who had been identified as designated DA leaders.
“The class was an introduction to what a DA Manager would be doing before, during and after a response,” said Perkins.
On Saturday, a “boots on the ground” in-field exercise hosted 41 DA responders, taking them into Middletown to hone their skills. The hands on exercise brought the eight teams of five DA responders into the streets, to conduct assessments.
“Teams from all three areas came together and became one cohesive DA team, one Red Cross,” said Perkins. “This was a success. When the need arises we’ll be ready.”