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Monday, October 20, 2014

Pulpit Rock Neighborhood Evacuation Exercise

By Kathleen Rowland, Media Relations Volunteer

On Saturday morning, October 18, the Pikes Peak Chapter of the American Red Cross participated in a neighborhood evacuation exercise held at Russell Middle School in Colorado Springs. The cool, bright morning began early for volunteers setting up the mock shelter. Around 9 a.m., after receiving notification to begin the exercise, participating residents of Pulpit Rock neighborhood began to arrive at the shelter, line up, and sign in.  
Pulpit Rock residents file into Russell Middle School
during Saturday’s neighborhood evacuation exercise.
Photo by Arnett Luce, American Red Cross.

Residents were directed to the cafeteria while the Red Cross demonstration shelter was set up in the gymnasium. Several agencies set up tabletop displays in the corridor. In the cafeteria, a large screen displayed a computer-generated map of the simulated fire zone and communicated information about the progress of the fire.  After a briefing from city emergency management, fire department and police department, Pulpit Rock residents were permitted to explore the Red Cross demonstration shelter in the gymnasium. Residents learned about how client care is handled at a Red Cross evacuation shelter. They had opportunity to talk with volunteers about how the Red Cross handles things like medical care, feeding, and sleeping.

Pulpit Rock resident, Pam Harlor,
tests a Red Cross cot and finds it "very comfy."
Photo by Bill Fortune, American Red Cross.
Resident Pam Harlor took a few moments to test one of the Red Cross cots. She said with a laugh that the cot was “very comfy.” When asked about her experience with the exercise, she thought for a moment and said, “I feel much more prepared. I feel much more comfortable. After the Black Forest Fire [the possibility of disaster] became very real. We had friends stay with us.”

Pam was appreciative of the opportunity to walk through and see a Red Cross shelter for herself. “I can hear about it, but until I participate, I don’t know what’s going on. Now I feel much more prepared.”

Red Cross volunteers answer resident questions
as part of the shelter demonstration.
Photo by Arnett Luce, American Red Cross.
Multiple agencies cooperated to stage the exercise: The City of Colorado Springs Office of Emergency Management, Police Department and Fire Department organized the exercise; the Salvation Army used their mobile food service truck to provide a hot breakfast for volunteers and participating residents; Red Cross volunteers set up and ran the shelter; the Humane Society provided residents with information about sheltering family pets; and FEMA Corp volunteers assisted in all aspects of the emergency management exercise.

At the end of the exercise, Rich Garcia, Lead Volunteer for Mass Care summed it up by saying, “This was a win-win event. We were able to train new volunteers and educate the community.”

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