Metro Atlanta’s Red Cross will put its disaster shelter plan to the test on Saturday, Feb. 23, in preparation for the 2013 severe weather season. Red Cross staff and volunteers will conduct a shelter simulation, complete with cots and an array of Red Cross emergency response vehicles (ERVs) at the Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church (182 Hunter St., Norcross, GA 30071), during which volunteers will get a practical review of shelter management following a major local disaster.

Up to 100 Red Cross and Red Cross trained volunteers will pose as Disaster Action Team members, converting an empty gymnasium, into a fully functioning shelter. Collaborating in newly formed teams, they will draw upon their training to find solutions for dealing with traumatized residents, those with functional, medical, dietary needs and other commonly confronted shelter situations.

“This exercise is especially relevant in the aftermath of the tornadoes that ravaged Bartow and Gordon Counties”, said Marilyn Self, Director, Disaster Readiness for the Georgia Red Cross. “We don’t know what’s in store for the rest of the severe weather season but whatever happens we’ll be ready.”

This Red Cross shelter simulation is designed as a “hands on” exercise to sharpen Disaster Action Teams volunteer’s readiness to survey, plan, open, manage and close a shelter. Participants will set up cots, learn how to prepare meals Meals-Ready-to-Eat (MRE’s) and be oriented to the Red Cross’s Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV). The fastest cot handlers in each team will compete in what the Red Cross is calling a “cot off” to determine who can assemble and disassemble a cot most efficiently. True to a full disaster simulation, lunch will be served to drill participants from the emergency response vehicles.

Also participating in the simulation are representatives from His Hands Church (550 Molly Lane, Woodstock 30189) and Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church.

The Disaster Shelter Simulation is one of the many steps that the Red Cross is taking to prepare for the 2013 severe weather season and potential large-scale disasters. Approximately 180 local Red Cross volunteers are trained to help with mass sheltering and feeding of disaster victims. The simulation review will provide an opportunity for the Metro Atlanta Chapter to exercise its Disaster Shelter plan, build a stronger group of disaster volunteers and strengthen relationships with its disaster relief partners.