Thursday, September 15, 2005

Put on the Red Cross Disaster Vest, the Job Comes to You

Sunday, September 11, 2005 — HOUSTON – Alan Stoller of Fort Wayne, Ind., served in the National Guard and knew first aid and CPR and thought there had to be a way he could the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
“I watch Fox News a lot and I saw all the people at the Superdome. I thought there’s some way I’ve got to help,” said Stoller. “I’ve got 3 weeks vacation left this year. I thought I can use that for the people that lost everything.”
Stoller called his boss to schedule the time off and then called the American Red Cross.
Since he’s a new Red Cross volunteer, like many of the people volunteering their time to help the New Orleans evacuees, he needed to take a Red Cross orientation class and a shelter operations class before he could be assigned to assist the evacuees. His local Red Cross chapter was offering classes practically around the clock, allowing him to quickly complete them.
Within twenty minutes of completing his classes, at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 7, Stoller was given a list of supplies to pack and told to catch a flight to Houston at 9 a.m. the next morning. He wasn’t sure if he’d stay in Houston or be asked to continue on to Louisiana. He asked the Red Cross to place him wherever he was needed.
Stoller has been assigned to the Reliant Center floor in Houston to perform a variety of tasks.
“When you put the Red Cross vest on, the job comes to you. This is the most multitasking I’ve done in a long time – there’s so much to do, but it’s fairly organized,” Stoller said. “I go around looking for people who are sick or depressed and get them medical attention. I’m showing people where clothes are found, explaining how the debit cards work, making sure they all keep their hands washed.”
Stoller says that nearly anyone can help when disaster strikes.
“If you have compassion and common sense, the Red Cross will give you the tools to help out,” he said. “If tomorrow the Red Cross needs me to go to New Orleans, I’m ready. My experience is, for the biggest disaster in the U.S., the Red Cross has its act together – I’m impressed.”


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