Guests invited to the American Red Cross Heart of Missouri Chapter’s mock disaster, and some who came after hearing of the event, got first-hand experience how the chapter serves clients displaced by a large-scale disaster.
“I thought it was a good event,” CMatt Freeman, a chapter board member who attended, said after participating in the shelter simulation. “It was a good learning experience. It makes people think about what they need to do to prepare.
“This shows that you don’t want to wait to do something until the time comes.”
The disaster scenario involved a tornado causing major damage and injuries.
Chapter volunteers and staff set up a simulated Red Cross shelter at the First Baptist Church Activity Building in Jefferson City to assist “clients” displaced because of the tornado. Church members also took part in the exercise.
Clients, invited members of the community and some spontaneous participants, were greeted at the door and provided an explanation of the situation. The 23 clients who participated were handed scenarios to play out as they entered the shelter.
Freeman’s scenario involved a tree falling on his house.
All clients, including a father who brought his daughters to the shelter after hearing of the event, completed registration forms upon their arrival just as they would in a real shelter.
The client’s scenario determined their next destination in the shelter.
Some went to the dormitory area, others with medical concerns were ushered to the health station and those whose scenario involved difficulty coping with the disaster went to the mental health area.
All participants received an overview of the shelter operation and were offered a heater meal, pre-packed meals that heat themselves, to eat in the canteen area before leaving.
The 28 volunteers and staff who worked the shelter received some experiences of their own. They were assigned to stations and had to perform the duties associated with that section.
“All in all, I thought it went well,” said Dave Griffith, the chapter executive director. “Our goals were to provide the community with information on what the Red Cross does in response to a major disaster and to give our volunteers a training opportunity. We met both those objectives.
“We also learned a few things that we should have done and things we shouldn’t have done. It was a good learning experience for everyone who took part no matter if they were a client or with the Red Cross.”