During the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, life’s emergencies don’t stop — and neither does the work of the American Red Cross.
Each day, people still rely on us to help prevent and alleviate their suffering, and we’re grateful to our volunteers and employees working tirelessly to support those we serve, as well as to our generous donors who make the Red Cross mission possible.
As communities follow stay-at-home orders, the risk of home fires hasn’t gone away.
To help keep everyone safe and follow social distancing guidelines, Red Cross volunteers are working with local fire departments to connect with families by phone or video calls, offering a sympathetic ear and linking them to available support, such as providing hotel stays and emergency financial assistance.
“Our bottom line really has not changed,” said Roger Keally, a disaster volunteer from the Eastern Chapter of the Red Cross of South Carolina. “The biggest change has been, in the past, we are able to respond to the client at the scene of the fire and look them in the eye and help them. Now, we are doing that over the phone or the computer. Providing some comfort and care to them just not physically there.”
Keally, like many of our volunteers, are having to adapt and learn during this unprecedented time.
“We don’t want to stop doing what we are doing. We have people out there that need our help. We are going to do what we can to get them that assistance. It’s a different approach but no one is shying away from helping those clients when they need it.”
Steve Shumake, a volunteer from the Central Chapter of South Carolina, has virtually responded to a number of house fires over the past week. Just recently, he helped coordinate assistance for four families after a fire.
“Through Facetime or other apps to establish that face to face contact. Seems like a good thing we have going while this thing lasts,” said Shumake. “I have been volunteering since 2011 when we were using carbon paper. We have come a long way and with situations like COVID19, this technology is a good way to establish that face to face contact without being toe to toe.”
In the month of March, Red Cross Disaster Volunteers responded to over 130 incidents, a majority of those are home fires.
You can find more information on COVID-19 safety here. For the latest information, please visit the CDC website at cdc.gov/covid19.
If you live outside the United States, health and safety tips can be found through the World Health Organization and by following your local Red Cross or Red Crescent society’s social media channels.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.