Red Cross seeks disaster response volunteers

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Shelly Birkelo
Friday, September 27, 2013

MADISON—Red Cross organizers hope people might consider volunteering to help the Red Cross after seeing the death and destruction of the recent Colorado floods.

“We're in constant need of volunteers to respond to local as well as national disasters,” said Tom Mooney, CEO of the Western Wisconsin Region of the American Red Cross.

People can volunteer to help the American Red Cross or one of its Disaster Action Teams.

Rock County has the third-highest number of disaster response incidents out of 44 counties the Red Cross serves in its Western Wisconsin Region, Mooney said.

“That's why our volunteers are so critical and it's so important to have them,” Mooney said.

There are about 200 disaster response volunteers in 13 South Central Wisconsin counties the American Red Cross serves.

“We certainly would like to have that number go up, and we'd like for the Rock County area to add 10 to 15 volunteers,” he said.

Mooney said there isn't a shortage of volunteers but there definitely is a need.

“Right now, we're holding our own. But the fact is we could always use more volunteers,” he said.

The Red Cross is offering a statewide regional disaster training conference Wednesday through Sunday, Oct. 16-20, in Wausau. The event is part of an ongoing effort to recruit, train and retain volunteers,

Prospective volunteers with a diverse range of backgrounds, ages, talents and skills are asked to register for the conference before Monday's deadline, to view Red Cross volunteer opportunities and to begin the application process online, Mooney said.

The conference gives experienced volunteers continuing education and gives new volunteers training “so we have an inventory of volunteers ready and able to respond to disasters,” he said.

"What's great about the training is that it's interactive. There's a lot of hands-on to prepare volunteers and meet other volunteers,” he said.

Disaster can happen anytime and anywhere, Mooney said.

Colorado is an example of that, he said.

Seventeen people from the Western Wisconsin Region have been deployed to Colorado to help victims of the recent floods.

“You're going to want experienced people there seeing the extensive damage and talking to the folks impacted,” he said.

The conference, Mooney said, “is an easy way to jump start your Red Cross volunteer career so you can get the training you need to help your community and nation.”

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