The American Red Cross serving Eastern North Dakota and Northwestern Minnesota is looking for 10 volunteers to join our Disaster Action Teams (DAT) as Duty Officers to virtually support their community during local disasters. Duty Officers, who volunteer from home, are the first point of contact for local emergency responders and coordinate Red Cross assistance for those affected by local emergencies.
Fargo, North Dakota resident, Sandra Heggeness, serves as a Red Cross Duty Officer, taking dispatch calls from local fire departments when people are in need after a home fire. She takes down the details, uses her phone and a simple computer program to find the closest Red Cross volunteers and sends them to the scene. From there, Sandra manages the response, ensuring families receive care, comfort and essentials after their darkest days.
“I can clean my house while on call and manage a response in my pajamas from the comfort of my home,” says Sandra. “It's a great opportunity to make an impact without having to be on the scene of a disaster."
Sandra is a retired office manager who joined the organization during Hurricane Harvey as a way to help. Since 2017, Sandra has been on multiple deployments both regionally and nationally. She has been a Duty Officer for nearly a year and enjoys that she can do the role from home and get other tasks done while on call.
Sandra recalled the story of her first incident response as Duty Officer. It was an apartment fire in Bismark that necessitated a large response and tested Sandra’s skills early on. Even though this was a large task for her first response, Sandra says that the support of her team was great. She knew after that night that she was prepared for anything.
“If I can do it, anyone can do it”. Sandra encourages everyone to try it, “If you are thinking about it, go for it, you can do it. I don’t know what I was afraid of." Sandra has loved all of her volunteer experiences with the Red Cross and encourages anyone and everyone to find their place in the organization.
As a virtual position, anyone can be a Duty Officer no matter their physical distance from the scene of a disaster or if they have mobility troubles. To learn more about serving your community in this critical role, please contact Josh Christianson, Volunteer Service Specialist by email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (701) 715-8640.