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Disaster Action Teams (DAT) – Below the Radar but not Invisible

Volunteer
The DAT captain must know how to complete the required paperwork and commit to being available to answer DAT calls for a given week, day or night

Dino Ingram is a Red Cross volunteer and contribution writer. This is the second of a three part series.

Every team needs a captain. Enter, Gary Duncan. He is seventy-five and retired. He’s sharp, knowledgeable and a little on the feisty side. Actually he’s A LOT on the feisty side. He’s had a rather varied career, serving as an electronic technician, police officer, radio station manager, chief engineer, bakery owner, TV operations manager and video store owner. That’s an interesting career track that begs the question, “Which career did he actually retire from?”

Gary has been a volunteer DAT captain for about five years. I asked him about his motivation for becoming an American Red Cross volunteer. He told me that it was out of a sense of obligation. As he was watching the events of hurricane Katrina unfold he was moved to join the Red Cross. Just a couple months in to his volunteer role he was ‘promoted’ to DAT captain.

I asked him about the scope of his responsibilities in that regard. He told me the following: “The DAT captain must know how to complete the required paperwork and commit to being available to answer DAT calls for a given week, day or night.”

Most of his DAT calls are in response to house fires. Gary will normally try to get two or three DAT members to respond to a given call with him. He describes the most unusual calls as being those for ‘canteening’ services. The DAT team deploys in the Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV), providing food and drink to help keep fire and police department personnel refreshed and alert when they have to be on a scene for several hours at a time.

What strikes Gary the most is the traumatic impact that a house fire has on the victims. He says, in regard to many of his DAT calls, “In my experience the majority of victims are uninsured and totally devastated by the event.”

Gary, the Red Cross and the victims you serve as a DAT captain are fortunate to have you on the job. Thanks for all you do.