By Robin Scott
The Red Cross is seeking individuals to take part in training in Dalhart and become a disaster action team (DAT). A disaster action team (DAT) consists of Red Cross volunteers who are trained, empowered and prepared for immediate response in the event of a disaster. DAT members are not generally policemen, firemen, or members of the city’s emergency response teams. In case of disaster emergency responders already have important jobs to do and could not serve in the capacity of a Red Cross DAT member.
DAT members must be able to respond day or night. Most of the responses would probably be related to single family fires and/or grass fires. DAT members are trained to handle all of the paperwork for emergency incidents and in the case of single family fires, would know how to issue debit cards to the clients on scene. Fire victims will not have to wait to go to Amarillo for assistance and Dalhart residents will be ready and trained to assist.
DAT members are “first responders” for the Red Cross in case of tornado, major highway accident, wild fire evacuation or winter storm highway closure. The Red Cross wants to train residents to work with local fire department and emergency management agencies. The Red Cross will provide 24 Red Cross cots and blankets that will be stored in a secure and dry facility. With the cots and blankets available, DAT members may open a temporary shelter without having to wait for the Red Cross to arrive to get started. Dalhart residents remember well the blizzard that shut down Dalhart on March 26th.
Cots and blankets will be delivered as soon as the DAT training is completed and the County Judge has signed a Memo of Understanding with the Texas Panhandle Chapter of the Red Cross.
Disaster Action Team training takes approximately four hours. The Red Cross is inviting anyone with the ability and desire to register for training and would like a group of approximately 10 people. Training will be held in Dalhart as soon as enough people from the Dallam/Hartley County area have signed up and will likely be held on a Saturday. Attendees at the class will need to complete a Red Cross application, do an online background check (for which Red Cross pays) and be willing to take Shelter Operations training at a later date.
Shelter Operations is a six hour class in which volunteers are trained on shelter registration procedures and the ways in which sleeping arrangements and feeding are managed in an emergency situation. Other community members might want to join the Disaster Action Teams in the Shelter Operations training as more volunteers are needed in a shelter situation.
After volunteers have been trained in Shelter Operations, the Texas Panhandle Chapter will provide a complete Shelter Kit to the county. This kit is valued at close to $150.00 and includes all forms, signage, instructions and office supplies that are necessary to open and run a shelter.
Commitment to becoming a Red Cross disaster volunteer is great, but the rewards gained from it are even greater. For more information contact Dalhart Fire Chief Curtis Brown at 244-5454 or Martha Riddlespurger, Director of Disaster Services, (806) 376-6309. Information may also be obtained from the Red Cross website at www.redcross.org.