CANTON - Its hard to say the American Red Cross of Northern New York is prepared for all disasters, blood drives and shelter operations if there arent enough volunteers standing by waiting for the call to action.
Community Chapter Executive Jane G. Gendron said preparedness begins with continued recruitment of volunteers to be trained in handling emergent situations, and in teaching community members lifesaving techniques.
The need for volunteers is tremendous, especially in Jefferson and Lewis counties, she said. I dont think theres been a concentration on recruitment for people in Jefferson and Lewis counties to help us. We werent really providing needed information and were not doing that.
In St. Lawrence County, she said, volunteers also are always needed, but there is a base of core people who help run Red Cross trainings and programs there efficiently.
Instead of waiting for a call from a resident of Jefferson or Lewis counties about scheduling training opportunities, Mrs. Gendron said, the agency has scheduled 11 training workshops from July 20 to Oct. 24 at its Watertown and Potsdam offices.
Volunteers are being sought for psychological first aid, shelter operations and simulation, the Northern New York Disaster Action Team, adult and pediatric cardiopulmonary resuscitation and first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation for professional rescuers and disaster services overview.
Despite having hundreds of volunteers throughout Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties already, Mrs. Gendron said, it is crucial to recruit many more because some may volunteer only for a specific purpose on a specific day.
We need volunteers in so many areas, especially blood services, she said. We really want to build up that volunteer base so we can build up the number of (blood) donors.
Blood services volunteers may perform tasks from signing blood donors in to handing out snacks after participants blood is drawn and even packaging blood.
Meanwhile, the most common task for a Disaster Action Team volunteer in the north country is response to house fires. Team members will also be trained on action to ice storms, floods and other natural disasters.
Additional volunteer board members are also being recruited, Mrs. Gendron said.
Training workshops are free with the exception of the cardiopulmonary resuscitation and first-aid classes, which range from $70 to $110.
For more information, call the Northern New York chapter at 268-0102 or 782-4410.