SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – Every year, the American Red Cross responds to over 60,000 emergencies. Those emergencies range from house fires to natural disasters, and volunteers account for 90% of the Red Cross workforce.
The Red Cross responds to an emergency every eight minutes. From house fires to multi-state natural disasters, Red Cross volunteers go wherever they’re needed. The Red Cross helps provide clean water, safe shelter, and hot meals when people need it most.
“With the summer months, we get those afternoon severe thunderstorms. So with those, were looking at lightning strikes and heavy winds and flash flooding in particular. There are a number of different hazards that we have to consider, that we have to monitor for and always looking out for those phone calls to start coming in,” Patrick Dollason, with the American Red Cross, said.
Some of those “different hazards” are hurricanes and tropical storms. Dollason said the hurricane itself is not what you have to worry about. He said it is the wind or the torrential rainfall, which creates that flash flooding or storm surge, that comes with it.
Summer storms can be devastating to people and their property. Once those storms move out, the Red Cross moves in.
“The mission of the Red Cross is to prevent and alleviate human suffering. For our DAT team members, they are responding to help folks on potentially the worst days of their lives,” Dollason said. “That’s the Disaster Action Team or what we call DAT auxiliary members.”
Responding to these summer weather events quickly relies on a particular group of volunteers.
From storm damage to house fires, the Disaster Action Team volunteers are ready to respond to emergencies 24 hours a day.
Volunteers are essential and the Red Cross could use your help.
“That’s an easy way for people to get involved because the DAT auxiliary member only has to take about 30 minutes of training, so you can start right off the bat [to] start helping people. We’re also looking for shelter workers with hurricane season here. We need help in the shelters. Whether that’s shelter supervisors, managers, service associates, or whether it’s healthcare. If anyone has a background in health, we’re looking for those volunteers,” Dollason said.
If you want to help your community, the Red Cross invites you to join.
“When you volunteer as a member of our DAT team, and you go out and you help these folks, you are sold for life,” Dollason said. “If you truly enjoy helping people, DAT team is a remarkable opportunity.”