Disaster training in County geared to new volunteers

Posted Aug. 31, 2010, at 12:14 a.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 11:53 a.m.

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — A first-of-its-kind training event is coming to northern Maine thanks to a partnership among the Aroostook County branch of the Pine Tree Chapter of the American Red Cross, the Aroostook County Emergency Management Agency and Northern Maine Community College.

The two-day Disaster Preparedness Institute will take place Sept. 24-25 on the NMCC campus, officials with the sponsoring agencies announced this week.

The training will focus on numerous areas of disaster preparedness and is aimed at training prospective new volunteers to respond in times of emergency and providing current volunteers and professionals in related fields with up-to-date, multidisciplined training to ensure the community’s immediate response to emergency situations.

Joyce Knorr, Aroostook County branch manager of the Pine Tree Chapter of the American Red Cross, said that the agency hopes the training will allow the Red Cross to gain more volunteers. Knorr said that the local Red Cross has lost a lot of its volunteers in recent years with the outmigration of people from the area.

This leaves the agency at a “critical point,” she said.

“We want to generate an interest in what Red Cross does so people can be prepared to help in the event of an emergency in the local community or elsewhere,” she said. “Ultimately, this is about local people helping local people.”

When a disaster threatens or strikes, the Red Cross provides safe shelter, food, clothing, health and mental health services to individuals and families.

The NMCC Student Senate is partnering with the Pine Tree Chapter of the Red Cross to hold the two-day event. Students will assist the training instructors and help in other ways to ensure the sessions run smoothly.

Courses offered Friday include a Foundations of Disaster Mental Health and Health Services Response Workshop. The first session will provide information about basic emotional support techniques that all disaster workers can provide and also will teach them how to recognize and manage stress more effectively. The second will help prepare certified health care professionals to work with their local chapter or be deployed to a Red Cross relief operation. This is the first time that a Health Services Response Workshop has been offered in Aroostook County.

Also offered Friday is Services to the Armed Forces, explaining the system and procedures necessary for relaying emergency communications for families of U.S. military personnel.

Saturday’s training consists of Psychological First Aid, Shelter Operations and Mass Care, during which participants will learn the basics of operating a shelter and caring for those in need. Other courses also will be offered that day.

Fulfilling Our Mission will be offered both days as a required course for all participants to explain the role of the Red Cross in preparing for, responding to, and recovering from emergencies and disasters.

All training is free to participants, but seating is limited. Admission is first-come, first-served. Registration forms are available at numerous Presque Isle and Caribou area businesses, at the Red Cross office on High Street in Caribou, at the information window in the Christie Lobby at NMCC, and online at www.nmcc.edu or www.pinetree.redcross.org. For more information, contact Joyce Knorr at 493-1624, ext. 108.

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