Thanks to a $15,000 grant from the Westfield United Fund, the Red Cross is organizing a series of training classes and exercises to better assist residents in the event of a disaster.
Westfield United Fund Executive Director Deirdre Gelinne explained that the Red Cross approached the Fund for financial assistance in getting the program off the ground.
"They came to us with a proposal to fund their Disaster Action Team program, to train volunteers in Westfield so that we will have local 'assets' in place to respond to natural and man-made disasters in our area," Gelinne said. "The volunteers will assist families affected by storms, fires, et cetera, and help them get the relief services they need, including shelter placement if necessary."
In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, the Westfield United Fund established a Sandy Relief fund to assist those impacted locally. Thirteen Westfield homes sustained damage to the point that they have been deemed uninhabitable while 53 other homes sustained extensive damage. Those interested in contributing to the Fund can visit http://www.westfieldunitedfund.org/
The Red Cross is hoping to begin by training a team of 20, but has some flexibility, Gelinne noted. Those interested in learning more can contact 908-232-7090. To find out more about the training registration, visit www.surveymonkey.com/s/westfieldready.
"We need your help to staff this sheltering effort - and we have free training available for you to take," the Red Cross stated on the survey page. "Please complete this survey so we can learn a little more about you and when the best days/times are for you to attend this disaster shelter training."
The value of Red Cross training was highlighted recently when Westfield teen Anna Reid was able to save a choking preschooler thanks to a babysitter's training course she had taken.
The Red Cross will be holding Babysitter’s Training courses on Saturday, Feb. 2 and Monday, Feb. 18, 2013 at its 321 Elm St. location. The course, designed for youth ages 11 to 15, will run from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.