Ralph Campbell has dedicated 33 years of his life to law enforcement. Now retired, he volunteers with the American Red Cross in the Tallahassee area. Ralph is quite familiar with being a first responder to the many emergency calls he takes on a daily basis, but nothing could compare to a natural disaster. More than two decades ago, he would assist in one of the most devastating hurricanes to hit the United States. Hurricane Andrew struck south Miami-Dade on August 24th in 1992. As he assisted alongside other responders he noticed a strong Red Cross presence. Volunteers were delivering hot meals, supplying diapers and hygiene products to those affected. He was so impressed that he recalls telling himself, “When I retire, I will volunteer with the Red Cross.” Two years ago, he followed through with that proclamation he made long ago. Ralph now volunteers with the Disaster Action Team (DAT).
His story doesn’t end there. As a child, he witnessed a house fire in his neighborhood. He remembers seeing the firefighters but no one else. He wondered why no one was there to help or comfort the affected family afterwards. Later in life he unfortunately revisited that horrid memory when a fire started in his own home a year and a half ago. The firefighters responded, and much to his surprise, so did the Red Cross. Ralph expressed that this was a pivotal moment in his life to not only volunteer as part of DAT but to join the Home Fire Campaign. His personal experience created a deeper understanding of how comforting it is to know you have support when you have lost everything. Ralph installs smoke detectors in homes and emphasized how vital it is that every home is properly equipped. Near the end of our conversation Ralph’s tone changed from zealous to most humble when he said, “This isn’t about just installing smoke alarms…this is about community relations, supporting and protecting one another.”
Since the time Ralph has joined as a volunteer, he’s assisted in disasters as far as Texas and Mississippi. His next goal is to become a certified CPR instructor through the Red Cross. He continues to give back to the community and wants others to know, “the Red Cross needs your help, no matter what age – there’s always something you can do.”