Red Cross Volunteers Run Disaster Drill In Broken Arrow

Friday, September 13th 2013, 4:37 pm
By: Craig Day

Volunteers got training Friday that could make a big difference the next time Oklahoma has a natural disaster.

Dozens of Red Cross volunteers from Eastern Oklahoma said a drill will better prepare them for future tornados, wildfires and other events where people need help and they need it quickly.

It's a unique sight to see so many Red Cross volunteers together in a neighborhood where there isn't any damage. But 35 volunteers, all in red, went through a damage assessment drill in a Broken Arrow neighborhood.

Mary Buford said this was her first disaster drill.

"I'm very excited to learn how I can contribute in the event that a disaster does occur," Buford said.

As part of the drill, pre-placed signs in yards included photos of damaged homes and details about damage. The teams learned how to assess the damage, which is critical in providing the Red Cross with information needed to coordinate what resources and manpower to send to help victims.

The volunteers went street-by-street, house-by-house, just like they would during a real emergency situation--just like in the aftermath of a tornado in late May, after the twister damaged several homes in Broken Arrow.

"We do a case-by-case assessment of every single home that has been impacted, whether it was the Moore tornado or the Broken Arrow tornado, these teams go out immediately and start doing these damage assessments," said Emergency Services Director Brian Jensen.

Once the basic needs are met, the assessments are valuable in determining what longer term help might be needed.

"By going out and having our people train in advance of an event, it helps us be better prepared and respond more quickly when the time comes," Jensen said.

"Every minute counts and you really need to know what you're doing when you're out here," Buford said.

Volunteers with the Eastern Oklahoma chapter of the Red Cross are on standby right now to send people and resources to help with widespread flooding in Colorado.