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Red Cross Healthcare Volunteers Help in Disaster Relief

Red Cross Healthcare Volunteers Help in Disaster Relief

Renee Berg | Monster Contributing Writer

On Assignment

No minimum time commitment is required to be a disaster-relief volunteer. Volunteers can give a weekend a month or several weeks a year, depending on their level of interest and availability. Brooks, for instance, volunteers while at her Massachusetts vacation home in the summer.

Volunteers may be called upon to respond to local disasters or sent out for major events such as the series of hurricanes that struck Florida in August and September 2004. Those assigned to a major disaster work six 12-hour days for two weeks. During this time, volunteers may search for disaster victims, hand out donated supplies, offer crisis counseling and first aid and guide victims to local organizations for further assistance.

Red Cross volunteers may be stationed in a shelter or at a disaster-relief hub, where they greet disaster victims and offer services. They can also work in areas without electricity or water and may contend with weather conditions that can make caregiving a challenge.

Despite such adversities, volunteers find the work rewarding. “I believe in the organization, and I see the good that it does,” Brooks says. “There’s really an opportunity to have a big impact in a direct way.”

Aid for the Volunteers

Recognizing that volunteers can also feel a disaster’s effects, the Red Cross is careful to see that their needs are met as well. Assistance is available for volunteers who are disaster victims themselves, and counseling is offered for volunteers on whom the relief work is taking an emotional toll.

“There’s always somebody who can help volunteers within the organization,” says RN Becky Alden of Massachusetts, who responded to a plane crash in that state in which two people died. “You’re never alone out there.”

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