Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Practice Makes Perfect for Red Cross of Southeastern Colorado

By Bill Fortune/American Red Cross

People say that practice makes perfect and if there ever was an organization that believed in that motto is the American Red Cross. Training our volunteers through small and large scale exercises keeps them in top shape and keeps them confident in their skills.

Dan Chavez organizes lunch for
shelter participants at 2015
 CSEPP Exercise in Pueblo, CO
Photo by Arnett Luce
Our volunteers participated in the Chemical Storage Emergency Preparedness Program (CSEPP) exercise Wednesday, May 6. Volunteers from Pueblo, Colorado Springs, Walsenburg and other southeast Colorado locations opened up an emergency shelter as part of this large scale, federally evaluated exercise in Pueblo.

Students played card games as mock shelter residents at
the 2015 CSEPP Exercise in Pueblo, CO. Photo by
 Arnett Luce
“This is the best training we can give to our disaster volunteers,” said Sally Broomfield, disaster program manager for the Red Cross of Southeastern Colorado. “We put our volunteers through scenarios that are very close to reality.”  The volunteers were able to demonstrate their skills in shelter management, logistics, nursing and disaster mental health.  They also worked closely with local, state and federal emergency management as part of the Joint Information Center and the Emergency Operations Center.

Over 70 students from a Pueblo Health Academy High School served as shelter clients. Each student had a role to play that would require a response from those working the shelter. The students stayed in character and really gave our volunteers a challenge.

CSEPP Exercise participants gather for a debrief at the end
of the shelter exercise in Avondale, CO.
Photo by Walt Palmer
The Red Cross has been an important player in the annual CSEPP drill for nearly a decade. Every year the exercise scenario provides challenges that our disaster volunteers will face in the real world.  “This is always a challenging exercise,” said Sherrie Goorley, a Red Cross nurse from Pueblo. “We treat it as if it were a real disaster so that when something does happen we are all ready to do our job.”

To see more photos of the Colorado Red Cross at the 2015 CSEPP Exercise visit our Flickr page at

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