Red Cross Hosts Emergency Shelter Exercise in Martinsburg


MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The Red Cross hosted a training exercise in Martinsburg Tuesday, teaching volunteers how to set up an emergency shelter during a disaster situation.

The mock scenario was a snow, ice and wind storm that caused a three-day power outage. Dozens of volunteers practiced what to do in that situation, assembling cots, distributing food and water, providing first-aid care and managing sign-in procedures.

"The Red Cross cannot be everything and be everywhere at the same time, so the more people you get involved, the better off you are,” said Debra Palmer, Red Cross disaster program manager for the West Virginia region.

Volunteers from Berkeley and Jefferson Counties participated in exercises to learn how to set up emergency shelters. Most of the volunteers that showed up to the event at St. Joseph's Catholic School are members of local churches.

"We've been trying to increase our involvement with the faith-based community,” Palmer said. “Churches are usually the first places that are willing to step up to the plate in the event of a disaster so, it only makes sense to train them."

Many of the participants say they are eager to learn the potentially life-saving skills.

"We should try to do what we can to aid and support and assist where possible,” Red Cross volunteer Curtis Gill said.

Although shelter exercises like this have not been held very frequently in the Eastern Panhandle, the Red Cross says they are trying to change that.

"This is the first one in quite some time, but we're hoping to have this become a regular exercise so that we can keep the community at the ready for an emergency,” said Rachel Coven, Red Cross community chapter executive for the Eastern Panhandle.

For more information about volunteering with the Red Cross, click here or call (304)-725-5015.

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