Friday, April 4, 2014

Staff Services Training Institute Innovates and Addresses a National Need

Staff Services is a mighty behind-the-scenes team that plays an essential role in any disaster response operation. They are the volunteer human resources group responsible for recruiting, training and placing volunteers in disaster relief.

“Staff Services essentially sets up a Fortune 500 operation in under 72 hours during a response,” said Luzon Kahler, Senior Manager of Volunteer Services for the Colorado & Wyoming Region.

On March 22-23, Kahler and her leadership team organized a Staff Services Training Institute in Denver.  The institute was spurred by a recognition that the Colorado & Wyoming Region needed to develop more capacity in local Staff Services volunteers and to train the team for upcoming disasters. The Colorado floods in 2013 had 1,255 workers, of which 90 were Staff Services – but only 12 of these workers came from the Colorado and Wyoming Region.

Staff Services volunteers from all over the country in 2013 flood response.
“As we anticipate the wildfire and flood season of 2014, we wanted to ensure we grew our Staff Services workforce, and developed and deployed training that will help them be successful when we face the next large disaster,” Luzon said.

Beth Burns, Carroll Larremore, Jack Roeger, Elaine Tomlinson and Luzon prepared all the manuals and presentation materials. The effort was a huge success: Volunteer Services met their goals, boosting participation in Staff Services from 12 members to nearly 40 and setting a national standard.

Beth Burns, Staff Services Chief, introduces the Disaster Cycle to the Institute participants. 
“We had requests to participate from all over the country, and the event was sold out in two weeks,” Luzon said. Although the COW Volunteer Services team developed the training to address a need in our region, they have had requests from every state to use the innovative training materials to develop similar Institutes across the country.

The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering. Thanks to Institute participants Dana Goldsmith, Megan Fossinger, Gary Breig, Brad Rice, Mary Fleurquin, Linda Russett, and Leyda Pendergrass. 

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