West Baton Rouge Parish employees devoted a day to American Red Cross training last week, learning about the nonprofit’s disaster operations and how to support and operate a Red Cross shelter or evacuation center.
About a dozen from the Parks and Recreation Department actively participated in courses taught by Red Cross volunteers Melissa Whitesell and Dee Binder at the council building.
“West Baton Rouge has opened its doors many times, and this latest act shows their ongoing commitment to our community,” said Bobbi Zaunbrecher, chapter executive of the Red Cross in South Louisiana.
During the past few years, the parish has offered its facilities when disasters displaced residents.
“It is important that should the need arise to open a shelter in the time of an emergency, we have properly trained our staff to be able to respond during this difficult time,” said Deano Moran, West Baton Rouge Parish emergency operations director.
Several of the employees receiving training supported recent shelters in the parish, including with Hurricane Isaac and after an explosion at Air Liquide.
"Everyone can make a difference in some way," said Clara Olinde. “We set an example, and maybe that will motivate others to come out to help.”
Anatole Vincent, director of the WBR Parks and Recreation Department, said he plans to have five or six of his team members receive further training to qualify as shelter managers.
“We appreciate West Baton Rouge stepping forward and serving as an example in community preparedness,” Zaunbrecher said. “We challenge other organizations – both government and private – to help partner with us to meet the needs of our community when disaster strikes.”
Residents interested in becoming Red Cross volunteers or receiving training may learn more online or by calling (225) 291-4533 to speak to the volunteer department.