Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Red Cross Participating in Multiple Exercises

By Bill Fortune
The American Red Cross is all about "being ready". Whether it is an individual family, a business, school or church the phrase "Be Red Cross Ready" is synonymous with knowing how to respond to any emergency.

"We take the responsibility of preparedness very seriously and we want to make sure that our volunteers are trained, well supplied and ready to mobilize when needed," said Sally Broomfield, Disaster Program Manager for the Red Cross of Southeastern Colorado.

As part of the effort to Be Red Cross Ready, the Red Cross of Southeastern Colorado participated in two exercises on May 3, 2017.
Volunteer from Pueblo, Salida and Colorado Springs
participated in CSEPP Exercise 2017

The annual Chemical Stockpile Preparedness Program 2017 exercise began at 8:30 with a call out to all volunteers to open a mock shelter/evacuation center at the First United Methodist Church in Pueblo. Fifteen Red Cross volunteers converged at the church in anticipation of the arrival of 60 students from the Pueblo Health Academy who would serve as mock clients.

"We treated this like a real emergency," said Richard Garcia, Mass Care Lead for the Southeaster Colorado Red Cross. "We assigned positions for our volunteers, set up some cots and blankets, established a Red Cross nurses station and arranged the shelter." He went on to say that several of the Red Cross volunteers were new and this will be their first experience with sheltering a large group of people.

The Southern Baptist mobile kitchen at the mock shelter
for CSEPP Exercise 2017
Food for the exercise was provided by the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief. They were great partners and are active members of the Colorado Volunteer Organizations Assisting in Disaster (COVOAD). They provided lunch for all of the students that volunteered as shelter clients and other organizations that were active in the exercise.

More photos from CSEPP Exercise 2017 are at

Red Cross volunteer Kimberly Poe talks with  a simulated
family at the Family Reception Center set up for the
mass casualty exercise. Photo by Joe Coleman

Meanwhile, another team of Red Cross volunteers were participating in a mass casualty exercise at the Colorado Springs Airport. A simulated plane crash occurred complete with mock victims wearing makeup to simulate injuries. The Red Cross role, as it would be in a real mass casualty event, was to set up a Friends and Relatives Reception Center where family members could meet to get information about loved ones, to talk to grief counselors and/or work with Red Cross volunteers to get support. For the exercise, the Red Cross positioned caseworkers, Nurses, Mental Health professionals and Spiritual Care volunteers. The volunteers helped the airlines with checking in the participants and provided a variety of care.

"I like the exercise format," said Jan McClellan, a volunteer Red Cross Nurse. "It gives me a chance to sharpen  my skills for the real thing."

L-R Volunteers Janet MCClellar, Pat Chappel and
Kimberly Poe talk with  MRC Director Frankie Gates
at the mass casualty exercise in Colorado Springs. Photo
by Joe Coleman/American Red Cross
In a real mass casualty event, such as a plane crash, you would see the Red Cross take a low profile with respect to social or traditional media. The focus would be on consoling those waiting for news about loved ones affected directly by the event. Red Cross would provide health and mental health services along with spiritual wellness.

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