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Red Cross in need of volunteers

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Those with a desire to help out during disasters around the nation can be trained for that purpose by the Red Cross.

"We are trying to offer Disaster Services Overview, called DSO class, in March, tentatively (scheduled for) Saturday, March 23, in Fort Scott," said Pam Gilchrist, Red Cross Pittsburg service area manager, which is a part of the Midway Kansas Chapter of the Red Cross in Wichita.

"On March 9, at Pittsburg State University, Janet Crosby, a registered nurse from Wichita, will a teach disaster health services class at McPherson Hall from 1-5 p.m.

The class informs licensed health care professionals such as CNAs (certified nursing assistants), LPNs (licensed practical nurses) RNs (registered nurses) and doctors, as well as student nurses, about what they can do as Red Cross volunteers to care for the health of victims and staff during a disaster. Prior DSO (Disaster Services Overview) classes are advised, but not absolutely necessary."

The DSO class is a four-hour introductory course for those who want to help out during a disaster.

It is also required for other disaster training. American Red Cross disaster courses and all services for disaster victims are provided at no charge.

"I'm recruiting volunteers through the training classes," Gilchrist said. "If people want to get involved in Red Cross, take classes."

To become a Red Cross volunteer, an online application must be completed, a background check conducted and a form signed agreeing Red Cross policies. Those who wish to give of their time will also watch "videos on the history and watch what volunteers can do ... and have a face-to-face interview," Gilchrist said.

Following training and paperwork completion, trainees need to be available for a disaster call.

"Going through training is one of the best ways to get involved. There is a great training in June, called The Institute, which is five full days of training in Pratt."

This year, it will be offered the week of June 17-22.

"This is a valuable training for volunteers with many areas of interest ... and will be at very reasonable cost of $25 for the week. Registration has not opened yet, but slots will close early. Carpooling from Southeast Kansas will be encouraged for any day, portion of the week, or the entire week," she noted.

Fort Scott was the recipient of Red Cross services in the storm that knocked out power in early fall last year.

During the September 2012 power outage in Fort Scott, the Red Cross set up a shelter at Buck Run Community Center and provided food and beverages.

"It was a 24-hour call. Coffeyville (Red Cross volunteers) came and bought supplies, water and snacks. Parsons brought up a trailer and shelter supplies. The trailer contained cots, but wasn't designed to serve food. Pittsburg brought two people, myself and Janet Pittman. We had four individuals that needed shelter during the Fort Scott outage, primarily because of medical needs for electricity to run breathing machines. This was at Buck Run. The next day the volunteers from Bourbon County came and relieved operations," Gilchrist said.

Recently, 40 Kansans responded to Hurricane Sandy relief on the East Coast, she said.

Gilchrist started as manager of the Pittsburg service area in August 2012, but her involvement with the organization goes back to childhood.

"In kindergarten, my Dad took us to a flood scene. He was shoveling sand in sandbags and I was holding the gunnysack open for him. We got to have coffee and doughnuts from the Red Cross. I took swim lessons from the Red Cross in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I have good feelings about the Red Cross. In the 90's, we lived in Tennessee when a tornado hit. The churches got together and worked on helping people. I then became the chapter manager of Monroe County, Tenn., Red Cross. I have a bachelor of science in business administration, a master's of science in hospital and health administration," Gilchrist said.

For more information, call (620) 235-1436, or visit www.redcross.org.

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