Program update for Linden Red Cross

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 7, 2005

LINDEN – Next time disaster strikes, shelters in the Black Belt will not be caught unprepared for evacuees.

Don Self, health and safety instructor for the Red Cross, has assumed a new role as disaster instructor for the non-profit organization.

“We are offering disaster services training so that shelters can be ran more efficiently,” Self said. “We are working on building shelters in the community that are trained and ready to provide.”

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According to Self, there are three steps to making a space a disaster shelter.

“First they must call the Red Cross and set up a time for a shelter inspection and we’ll check for proper building construction and safety measures. Next, they sign an agreement saying they want to be a shelter. This is where we lay out any specific limitations, including the maximum number of people they can provide for,” he said. “Then they start the training for the people who will actually staff the shelter.”

Self said the training involves three sessions.

The first is “Introduction to disaster services,” which covers the mass care aspects of providing shelter for evacuees.

“There are three sections to this,” Self said. “Providing the shelter, feeding the people, and delivering clean-up kits and food to the communities where the disaster struck.”

The second is “Mass Care: An Overview” and the last is “Shelter Operations.”

Self said the training is open to anyone who wants them and the classes are free.

“You only have to be a citizen with interest,” he said.

Although he offers the sessions to individuals, Self said the training works better with a group because the sessions are based on trying to stimulate discussion.

“We pose a problem to the group and them we ask them, ‘What would you do?'” he said.

Self said another purpose of the training is to teach people how to make the most of their volunteers and workers without exhausting them.

“The point is to have people work until they are tired, not work them until they are ready to quit,” he said.

The Red Cross will also host a blood drive October 15 at Calvary Baptist Church on 43 South in Linden from 8 a.m. to noon.

As for the “Evening Under the Stars,” Brenda Weaver, community outreach coordinator for the Black Belt Chapter, said it was a success.

Even though proceeds from the event totaled $1,091, Weaver said the crowd wasn’t as large as it was last year.

“Sometimes it’s not the size, but the quality,” she said. “And the amount we raised definitely shows the caring quality of the people in the area.”

According to Weaver, the board will meet October 20 to plan future Red Cross events.

To contact Don Self, call (334) 295-4376 or the Red Cross at (334) 295-0805.