Stay-at-home orders have adjusted the way local Red Cross volunteers bring aid to those impacted
As communities in Central Florida follow government directed stay-at-home orders, the risk of home fires hasn’t gone away. To help ensure the safety of local communities and our workforce after a fire, the delivery of Red Cross relief services may look different as we adapt our physical response due to COVID-19.
Utilizing virtual resources like video conferencing, Red Cross disaster action team (DAT) volunteers are still able to connect with those affected and provide critical support services including emergency financial assistance. When necessary, some responses are in person, as in the case of a recent multi-family fire in Tampa.
On April 9, when 24 people were displaced by an apartment fire in Hillsborough County, Milton Lanzas was the on-call volunteer duty officer. With a newly formed Jump Team as backup, Milton managed the incident largely independently to minimize contact at the scene.
After first reaching out to the seven affected families by phone and FaceTime, Milton delivered emergency financial assistance and comfort items to the residents following social distancing guidelines. Casework volunteers are now providing virtual follow up to help the families with next steps.
“Every day, people still rely on the Red Cross to help prevent and alleviate suffering,” said Dave Lob, volunteer DAT coordinator for the Tampa Bay Chapter. “We’re grateful to our DAT volunteers who continue to work tirelessly to deliver services safely as the situation evolves.”
The Tampa Bay Chapter’s Jump Team is a small group of specially trained volunteers who support multi-family fires in the COVID-19 environment. The team’s focus is working together to minimize time and personnel on scene while maximizing virtual connectivity to keep both the victims and team members safe.
In this uncertain environment, one thing is certain -- life’s emergencies don’t stop and neither does the work of the American Red Cross.