By Angela R. Wilson/American Red Cross of Alaska
Many Red Cross Disaster Action Team (DAT) members from across the state traveled to Anchorage to attend the first Alaska Region DAT Summit on February 8 and 9.
The training was established to ensure a stronger foundation and communication base for DAT members across Alaska. The directives addressed new techniques and the revising of others; building DAT relationships throughout Alaska; putting a face to a voice; getting clarity on issues; in-depth stages for participating in active support; preparedness efforts; and supervising and delegating support to others when in need. The Summit also addressed being able to understand the spectrum of what ‘DAT’ means and what is expected during disasters.
When the Red Cross answers a call of duty, many think they only assist in shelter and food. But, that is a misconception. The Red Cross offers, when necessary, shelter, meals and snacks, clothing, eyeglasses and replacement medications, connection with other family members or friends, Disaster Health and Mental Health Services, Spiritual Care and more.
During the Summit, participants were happy to learn that there are now more options than ever to offer those who’ve been through a disaster, such as Mental Health and Spiritual Care services, which are more “person” focused and require deep compassion towards others.
Mrs. Rosita Wilburn is the Spiritual Care Lead for the Alaska Region. Wilburn stated that she wanted to give back to her community, so when she found the need for a Spiritual Care volunteer at the Red Cross, she was hooked. “I knew it was for me,” she said.
Wilburn met the high standards of guidelines before being accepted to the intense training of the Red Cross to become a Spiritual Care volunteer. When asked how to detach one’s self from their own beliefs to assist a mass population with spiritual care, Wilburn’s response was, “I have to be true to my own belief while being open to other beliefs. I make it a point to listen and connect those in disasters to their spiritual contact if they want to speak to someone of their faith.” Participants of the Summit found the option of Spiritual Care welcoming.
Spiritual Care and Mental Health were among a number of other topics that stood out during the Summit, like the word “communication.” Communication was a clear core factor in the courses. The DAT members learned more about communicating with first responders from other organizations, their local fire and police departments, medical facilities, media and even among themselves.
Knowing who will respond to a disaster is paramount because the DAT members then know what resources to activate for that disaster. Such communication allows for better usage of resources and time. Building stronger communication skills helps in building a stronger foundation to successfully assist in any disaster.
If you want to learn more about the Red Cross, please visit redcross.org/Alaska or contact us at 907-646-5401.
Photos by Angela R. Wilson, Connie Black & Suzanne Eldridge/American Red Cross of Alaska