New Red Cross program to launch, request volunteers
A new Red Cross program will launch Thursday with a luncheon, accepting volunteers from local businesses for future disaster relief projects, a Red Cross spokesperson said.
The launch luncheon will be 11 a.m. Thursday at the National Weather Center for the Red Cross’s new Ready When the Time Comes program.
Local businesses were invited, but the event is open to the public. The Red Cross is accepting questions and volunteers, Red Cross spokesman Rusty Surette said.
Ready When the Time Comes is a Red Cross program that trains employee volunteers for disaster relief, such as tornadoes, floods, earthquake and fires, Surette said.
While many businesses already contribute supplies and money, physical labor is still in demand.
“Time and man power is all we need," Surette said.
This program has been implemented across the nation, including Texas, Kansas and California. After the May 24, 2011, tornado, the Red Cross saw a need for it in Oklahoma, Surette said.
Often after a disaster, there is a rush of spontaneous volunteers, Surette said. Witnesses want to help and businesses want to offer their employees and services.
Surette said giving back comes naturally to Oklahomans.
"Their thinking is, 'It can happen to us, and if it happens, what kind of help would we want?'" he said.
However, untrained volunteers may do more harm than good.
“During a disaster, that is not the time to do training. The intentions are good, but it can be problematic,” Surette said.
Businesses can sign up their employees with the program to receive training so they can be ready ahead of time. Having trained volunteers gives the community an advantage before a disaster hits, Surette said.
The volunteers will go through the same training as regular volunteers.
After the Red Cross runs a background check, volunteers go through orientation.
Volunteers are able to choose the kind of relief they want to provide, such as shelter, health care or food distribution, Surette said.
"It then is up to what they want to do and how far they want to go," he said.