Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

News

August 5, 2013

Corsicana’s Red Cross provides valuable assistance

Corsicana — Two weeks ago, when firefighters, oil field emergency crews and county crisis teams responded to a potential gas drilling disaster near Mildred there were also volunteers on the scene, serving cold water and Gatorade.

American Red Cross volunteers respond to a variety of situations, including fires, evacuations, tornadoes, and even bad car wrecks.

“We do canteen services, like serve water, Gatorade and snacks, but if it’s over a number of hours we can also serve meals, “ said Jeannie McCarty, emergency services field specialist for the Red Cross in Navarro County.

McCarty is the only paid staffer with the local Red Cross. All other workers are volunteers, she explained.

“All our responses are done by volunteers,” she said. “In the organization as a whole, over 95 percent of our work is done by volunteers. Our real organization is volunteers, not staff.”

Last year, the local Red Cross teams responded to about 70 structure fires, to aid homeowners and provide relief for emergency workers.

“I don’t know how we’d do it without them,” said Ron Franks, assistant fire chief for the Corsicana Fire Department. “They provide tremendous help to us. They respond anytime we call them, it doesn’t matter the weather conditions.”

“We’re real proud to see them, especially on days like today,” Franks said.

In July, Red Cross volunteers were passing out cooling drinks and packs at 10 separate structure fires around the county. In the first five days of August they had already responded to three structure fires and a gas leak in Kerens.

“Here lately it’s been once day,” McCarty said.

The Red Cross is not a first responder, but the work they do for all 23 volunteer fire departments and the Corsicana Fire Department is so crucial that they’re working with dispatchers so their volunteers are notified whenever large numbers of firefighters are called out.

McCarty is also a volunteer firefighter, so she keeps a scanner nearby and knows what the agencies are going through, Franks pointed out.

Jeff Shepherd, 38, is a dispatcher with the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office. He has been a Red Cross volunteer in both Navarro and Ellis counties since 2009 or 2010.

“I like helping people,” Shepherd said. “I want to help the firefighters, make sure everybody gets out safe and hydrated.”

Working with clients who have lost their homes and seeing that they’re back on their feet again is another important part of the work, he said.

“I just like getting people the help they need,” Shepherd said.

Volunteers are always needed, both in the field and doing education on emergency preparedness, and volunteers can choose their preferred hours. For more information on Red Cross volunteer opportunities, call (903) 874-4551, or go to www.redcross.organd follow the link to “opportunity” and choose “volunteer services.”

    —————

Janet Jacobs may be reached by email at jjacobs@corsicanadailysun.com. Want to “Soundoff” on this story? Email: soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com

 

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