Volunteer Assists at Two Major Disasters

John Tulloch
“Even when you think you’re on your way home to rest, when something comes up, you jump straight back into action.” - John Tulloch

As an American Red Cross Disaster Action Team (DAT) member, volunteer John Tulloch is used to being called to help at a moment’s notice. The weekend of July 6-7 proved to be a rare occasion for John, who was called to two major disaster responses within 15 hours.

Normally John, as the DAT lead for Alameda County, is on call for four shifts a month. On July 6, John and fellow Disaster Services volunteer, Ed Silva, were called at 8:30 p.m. to respond to the Asiana Airlines plane crash-landing at the San Francisco International Airport (SFO).

John, who works full time as a City Clerk and IT Manager for the City of Piedmont, worked through the night transporting Red Cross volunteers to and from the airport.

He also provided support to the mobile feeding unit stationed at the airfield, which provided food, snacks, and beverages to first responders, airport personnel, and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators.

After the shift at SFO airport, John and Ed were heading back to Alameda County to get some much-needed rest when Ed was called to open a shelter for people displaced by a six-alarm apartment fire in Redwood City, 16 miles south of the airport they had just left.

“Instead of going home, I went straight to the Burlingame office to make sure we had supplies ready for the shelter. Then I headed to Redwood City to help with the shelter setup,” John said. “Even when you think you’re on your way home to rest, when something comes up, you jump straight back into action.”

In Redwood City, John assisted with providing snacks and beverages to those displaced by the fire and to the firefighters fighting the blaze.

“It’s amazing to see firefighters come out of a fire–they’re so tired, and when they see the cookies and drinks their faces light up. They’re happy to have someone there looking out for them,” the Oakland resident said.

John worked for more than 24 hours at the two disasters but still managed to make it home in time to celebrate his son’s fifth birthday party. Despite his exhaustion, John didn’t mind pulling an all-nighter.

“It’s so rewarding to go out and help people. It’s good for the soul,” he said. “My son is just starting to understand what my volunteer role means, and I think he likes the idea of helping people.”

Find more information on volunteering at redcross.org/ca/san-francisco/volunteer.