SEATTLE, Wash. -- March is American Red Cross Month, an opportunity for individuals, families, businesses and even government agencies to review their own level of preparedness if disaster strikes, and reflect on the critical role played by the Red Cross in alleviating human suffering across the country, and across the world. The American Red Cross has played a crucial role in virtually every major disaster of this century - and is the only non-federal signatory of the Federal Emergency Management Agency-implemented Federal Response Plan.
According to FEMA Regional Director David L. de Courcy, not only does the American Red Cross coordinate the activities of virtually all National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (NVOAD - and there are 19) in addition to its daily 24-hour response missions, but is the lead agency coordinating Mass Care (shelter, food, and emergency first aid) in the event of catastrophic disaster.
"The American Red Cross is often 'first-on-scene' when disaster strikes," said de Courcy. "And with over 95 percent of all natural disasters handled at the local and state government level, its special 'grass-roots' approach to disaster preparedness and response partnerships really pays off."
Seattle-King County Chapter of the Red Cross CEO Jon Fine, certainly agrees. "We respond to disasters in King County on an average of once every 36 hours," said Fine. "Usually nighttime fires with people fleeing into the street without their clothes, purses, medicines, glasses, food - necessities we provide at no charge." Fine reports that each year his Chapter provides emergency communications and assistance to over 1500 members of the U.S. Armed Forces away from home, and sends hundreds of messages to family members in other countries, threatened by natural disasters, war and civil unrest.
"We help families reconnect during their worst times of stress and vulnerability," continued Fine. "And we are increasingly relying on our Language Bank volunteers to help provide our services in this diverse community."
Last year the SEATTLE, Wash.-King County Chapter alone trained over 40,000 people in CPR, first aid and other preparedness skills, and routinely schedules 200 to 300 classes each month.