While almost a hundred million people across America saw the Super Bowl in Atlanta, and the city entertained around a million visitors, the Red Cross of Georgia was at work and on alert across the metro area.
From answering the call to the daily disaster of home fires, to being on watch around the clock at a special command center, to all the planning that led up to the big day, volunteers and staff were active and ready.
The work began well in advance. A key component was identifying possible shelter locations should a big multi-family fire, hotel fire or other emergency occur – and lining up shelter teams to stand by.
Considering all the moving parts, the Red Cross positioned lead volunteers and staff at a nerve center at the metro Atlanta chapter. Beginning the Friday before the game, and lasting until Monday morning, they used Red Cross reporting systems and other reports, including local media, to coordinate day and night. They spent three nights at a staff shelter at the chapter on Monroe Drive.
The team focused on making sure that those who suffered home fires received help despite the congestion and scarce lodging. An even broader team was standing by in case of any large emergency.
That included Red Cross Blood Services, which was working to ensure area hospitals would have access to blood services and could manage any unexpected needs.
One of the volunteers who spent the weekend at the chapter was Jeanne Spears, currently Georgia’s Disaster Health Services lead.
“Something like this makes me appreciate that the Red Cross has a plan to respond to whatever may occur, not only in the metro area but across the state,” she said.
As is often the case, the busiest Red Cross volunteers were the Disaster Action Team, those who often respond to home fires in the middle of the night.
During Super Bowl week, these volunteers were called to 35 local emergencies, and they helped almost 300 people in more than a hundred families.
Another Red Crosser observing their work all weekend from the chapter was Tim Suda, Disaster Workforce Engagement Manager for Georgia.
“I’m so proud of the volunteers who were willing to step up at a time when they would normally be watching the game with friends and family,” he said. “It’s always exciting to see the teams come forward in support of those in need.”
If you’d like to join the team of trained volunteers who help in disasters, visit redcross.org/volunteer.