Red Cross Urges Volunteers to Train Before Leaving to Disast

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HARLINGEN – People from all walks of life continue to volunteer in hurricane damaged areas, but the American Red Cross wants to make sure they train before leaving the Rio Grande Valley.

The executive director of South Texas for the Red Cross said going to a disaster zone without training may be putting yourself and others at risk.

Santana Garcia always knew he wanted to give his time and efforts to others.

“My story started back to when I was about six-years-old. My house burned down. My family’s house burned down; of course at that age, we don’t know what happens,” said Garcia.

He said the American Red Cross’ training has since changed a bit form when he started.

“We’re gonna instruct them as to what’s needed out there and what their needs may be and what their assignments may be before they take off from here,” Garcia said. “They’re given instructions as to what they need to put together to be ready to leave. And that’s the introduction to Red Cross as to what is to be expected of you.”

Danella Hughes, the executive director of the American Red Cross of South Texas, wants to make sure volunteers are prepared.

“For you to help at 100 percent, you have to be trained. You need to know what you’re going in to before you get into it,” said Hughes.

She said without training, volunteers may be adding to the problem.

Hughes explained the importance of training before leaving, “You’re putting yourself in danger by, again, there are flood waters in Houston. The roadways aren’t open, you might get stuck, your vehicle might get stuck, you might get stuck in a flood zone that you’re unaware of because you’re unfamiliar with the territory.”

Hughes mentions there are a number of trainings daily during this time of need, “Right now at American Red Cross, we are offering 24 hour training.”

There are different types of training.

“Positions that we have for training would be sheltering, mass feeding, mass care, disaster mental health,” Hughes said.

She is aware people with affected family and friends want to help. Getting training by an organization helps people and others stay out of harm’s way.

“A lot of people have a sense of urgency that they wanna go help and participate. Which is fantastic. Which is wonderful. I love the fact that the Rio Grande Valley help Texans help other Texans, but at the same time, I urge please call your local authorities. Please call us get the information that you need before you go out so that we can prevent danger.”

Hughes added that the standard three hour courses are now an hour in order to accelerate the training process.

If anyone is interested in registering for a training course, please visit the American Red Cross website here.


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