The American Red Cross of Western Kentucky is looking for volunteers, who want to give back to local communities, work on disaster preparedness or respond to help those affected by different disasters, such as fires or storms.

“Our chapter consists of 25 counties, 20 in western Kentucky and five in southern Illinois,” Linda Porter, Red Cross disaster program manager, told The Sun on Friday.

“In disaster, we only have two paid staff, which is myself and I have a disaster program specialist. So, all the good work that we do in preparedness and response — we couldn’t do without volunteers. They’re the ones that are the workforce, the face of the American Red Cross, the ones that go out and assist the clients when there’s a need.”

With the Red Cross, volunteers can do a variety of things.

They can help with community preparedness. According to the Red Cross, that involves different efforts, such as in-home smoke alarm installation, fire safety education visits, programs for children on science-based disaster education and coping skills, and preparedness education opportunities.

Volunteers can also become a member of a Red Cross “Disaster Action Team.” DAT volunteers respond day and night. The Red Cross said the assistance may include financial provisions for food, clothing and shelter, emotional support, prescription medication and other “critically needed” items.

Porter said Red Cross DAT volunteers are the initial teams sent out, meaning they help after residential fires. If there are storms, they might go out to assess what a community’s needs are.

“We also are getting back into doing preparedness activities, so that’s going out to the schools and doing Pillowcase (Project) presentations, doing our ‘Sound The Alarm’ where we go into homes and install smoke detectors for those that need them at no cost to the homeowner,” she said.

“We also like to do ... events, where we can just provide education to the communities and we do presentations that are called ‘Be Red Cross Ready,’ which is essentially adult disaster preparedness and hands-only CPR.”

In general, Porter described volunteering as “very rewarding,” and it can be as little or as much as a volunteer wants to put into it.

“You know, if you only have a couple of weekends a month that you could sign up to be a DAT responder, and if we get a call for a home fire — we can call on you, that’s perfectly fine,” she said.

“We want everybody to enjoy what they do because they’re going to volunteer. It could be something they’ve done for a living, or (for) a lot of people — the things that they do for a living, they don’t want to do that in Red Cross. They want to do something completely different, and it takes people with all types of different skill sets.”

Visit redcross.org/dat to learn more about how to volunteer.

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