When disaster strikes, The Salvation Army needs volunteers to pick up and go, but not before knowing what to expect in chaotic situations.
Eleven people participated Thursday in The Salvation Army’s disaster services training. The classes help prepare volunteers who deploy to areas across the nation, said Katie Atkinson, the volunteer and emergency disaster services coordinator.
In the first class, called Intro to Emergency Disaster Services, volunteers learned about services offered at a disaster site, what to expect during an emergency and liability and code of conduct concerns.
“You’re there to serve. You might not always feel appreciated but trust me you are,” Atkinson said.
During an interactive exercise that simulated packing for an emergency deployment, participants learned to pack a medical history card, government identification, sunscreen, insect repellent, walking shoes and appropriate clothing. Items such as a hair dryer and expensive jewelry should be left at home.
“Be prepared for the worst because then when it’s wonderful, everything is amazing,” Atkinson said.
Training is required before volunteers respond to a disaster. Volunteers must also complete The Salvation Army’s online course on child abuse prevention.
R.T. Smith, of Augusta, attended training with some background on dealing with people in emotional distress and in difficult situations from past work in law enforcement. He was not familiar, however, with the array of services provided by The Salvation Army.
“I want to be trained to be able to do things in the right way,” Smith said.
Retired teacher Pat Lawhorn, of Augusta, said training would help prepare her as best possible for the worst case scenarios such as seeing a dead body. She also learned about the types of disaster sites she could be deploying to with The Salvation Army.
“They could be called to a big thing like 9/11 or a local tornado or a house burning down,” Lawhorn said.
The second class Thursday explained safe food handling, preparation and storage. The majority of volunteers assist with mass feeding operations, Atkinson said.