During these very uncertain times created by the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing remains constant: the American Red Cross. We’re still here to deliver our lifesaving mission during this public health emergency.
However, we’ve had to change several procedures for the safety of the people we serve as well as our workforce. In some cases, we’re using technology to support disaster responses virtually. But rest assured that every day, whether physically or virtually, the Red Cross is still in our communities bringing help and comfort to people who have lost so much.
Recently, our disaster workers were called about a devastating fire in West Philadelphia, which claimed the lives of three people, including two very young children. Our disaster workers quickly determined that this fire needed an in-person response from a team of highly trained and experienced Red Cross volunteers, which included counselors trained in emotional support.
As our disaster responders arrived at the chaotic scene, they encountered distraught neighbors, already stressed from dealing with the ongoing pandemic, who had just watched in horror as firefighters tried to save the three people trapped in the home. Amongst the neighbors was a father who had just come home to the worst news of his life – that while he had briefly stepped out, a fast-moving fire had taken his mother and his two small children.
Charline Scott is one of the four trained Red Cross disaster workers who personally went to the scene. She provided care and comfort to the neighbors, firefighters and the father affected.
While COVID-19 has changed some of the Red Cross procedures in the interest of safety and social distancing, this ordeal called for tremendous compassion, which our responders delivered. “I would have loved to have been able to give him a hug, but I couldn’t. We wrapped him in a blanket. We embraced him with a Red Cross blanket,” Scott said.
Whether it’s providing emergency assistance virtually using new technology for the safety of everyone, or in-person to a devastating scene such as this one, our teams continue to embrace our communities through this pandemic. But we can’t do it alone.
Financial support is critical and is used to equip and train volunteers and staff during this outbreak to safely provide food, shelter and comfort to people affected by disasters of all types. It’s also being used to invest in technology and training to make sure we can provide counseling, financial assistance and other relief services virtually when possible.
Making sure that communities can turn to the Red Cross after a disaster is at the heart of what we do. And this pandemic won’t stop that.