One good thing that my Dad taught my brother and me was the idea that it is not a right to live in a community but a privilege and we had to give back to it. My brother chose to volunteer with the local Fire Department where he rose to the grade of Lieutenant before he moved on. I chose to become a volunteer with the American Red Cross as a high school senior in 1972 and continue to serve with them to this day.
I remember my first Disaster drill with the Red Cross. This was to be a full-scale drill with the police and fire departments, public services, ambulances and hospitals all joining in.
We charted a course for a tornado to touchdown in the country just outside of town. Stagers went out to the area and put signs up that read, “this house is destroyed”, “this mobile home is on its side”, and “people are trapped here” and so on. When they had everything set we waited for the siren to go off to start our drill.
The drill was a great success as we learned where we needed to beef up our strategy and who was going to take responsibilities for different jobs that had slipped through the cracks. While we were debriefing, the storm warnings went off for real!
A real tornado touched down in the country just outside of town. The house that was marked destroyed really was destroyed! The mobile home was on its side and the people were trapped in their home.
The only funny thing about it was that we received a commendation from National Red Cross Headquarters for having the fastest turn out response time to a local disaster ever!