Volunteers Help Familes of Bus Crash Victims

We basically made sure that they didn't have to worry about where they were going to sleep at night. And in doing that, it freed them up to worry about their family members.

More than 20 Red Cross volunteers from the Tennessee Mountain Valley chapter helped several families affected by a recent bus crash in Jefferson County, Tennessee.

The bus experienced a mechanical problem causing its driver to lose control and slam into two other vehicles according to the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

Immediately, Red Cross volunteers were notified of the incident. Within two hours, plans were in place to establish a family reunification center at UT Medical Center. 21 people were either hurt or killed in the crash. Many of the victims were from North Carolina. The hospital and the Red Cross began collaborating on how best to assist family members of the victims once they arrived in Knoxville.

The hospital provided a private area for the families to meet and grieve. They also provided food, drinks, and pastoral care. Red Cross volunteers specially trained in mental health services were also on hand to provide counseling. In addition, The Red Cross assisted families with basic necessities, hotel arrangements, and long-term assistance.

"We were available to sit with them, to listen with them, and if they wanted to talk with us, that's fine. If they needed a plate of food, we went and got it for them,” said Dianne Britton, a disaster mental health volunteer.

"We basically made sure that they didn't have to worry about where they were going to sleep at night. And in doing that, it freed them up to worry about their family members," said Britton.

Red Cross volunteers won praise locally and across the country for their professional and compassionate care during such a tragic and difficult situation.

Several of the victims have weeks of treatment and therapy ahead of them. The Tennessee Mountain Valley Red Cross is working with its counterparts in North Carolina to make sure they receive continued help if necessary.