Red Cross Healthcare Volunteers Help in Disaster Relief
Renee Berg | Monster Contributing Writer
Healthcare workers who volunteer for American Red Cross disaster-relief assignments say they’re motivated by a desire to help people put their lives back together after a catastrophe.
These 8,000 volunteers — typically nurses, social workers, emergency medical technicians, counselors, physician assistants and therapists — often leave home on short notice to aid victims of hurricanes, fires, floods and other disasters, wherever they occur.
Volunteers have been called on to serve for a host of disasters, including Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the Gulf Coast when it struck in August 2005, and the tsunami that hit South Asia in December 2004. Among the Red Cross volunteers who responded to the South Asia tsunami were five specially trained American mental-health specialists who trained local volunteers in the Maldive Islands, says Dee Yeater, senior associate for disaster health services for the American Red Cross. Overall, 22,000 volunteers participated in Red Cross relief efforts in the tsunami-affected area; those efforts continued following the March 2005 earthquake that struck near Indonesia.
In addition, following the January 2005 mudslide in Ventura County, California, all local Red Cross healthcare volunteers were called on to provide aid, including 22 nurses immediately deployed to shelters to offer comfort and care, Yeater says.
“I think health workers know what a trauma can do to people, and when there is a trauma, they know the skills they have could be of help,” says Rose Brooks, a retired Connecticut social worker.