Letter to the Editor of the Smith Mountain Eagle from Douglas W. Eggleston:
The Historic Virginia Chapter of the American Red Cross plays a major role in responding to local disaster events and providing assistance to residents of the Bedford area. The majority of these events are single-family house fires, which are often called the "silent disasters", because they do not receive the same degree of press as do larger events such as hurricanes or tornadoes.
When we are contacted by our partners in the emergency management fields of the City and County about a local fire, (or other disaster), we immediately respond by deploying members of our Bedford area Disaster Action Team (DAT). These volunteers are trained in the various disciplines of disaster response and will conduct a disaster assessment to determine the emergency-caused needs of those affected by the incident. They will then interview the clients and provide them with a safe place to stay, food, clothing and other needs. They also assist the client by offering referral information about other agencies and faith-based organizations within the community that might provide additional help.
Our chapter jurisdiction covers Bedford City, Bedford County, Amherst County, Appomattox County, Campbell County and the City of Lynchburg. In order for us to successfully respond 7 days a week, 24 hours a day when disasters occur, we need the support of those living in these communities. We have formed Disaster Action Teams (DATs) that are made-up of volunteers that live in each area we serve.
We provide volunteers with excellent training and all of the tools and equipment they might need to make a rapid response. There is absolutely no cost to the volunteers that become DAT members, except their commitment of time and their compassion.
We currently need more DAT members in the Bedford area to help us assist our neighbors in their time of need. I challenge members of this community to step forward and join us in our efforts in disaster services. Interested individuals, faith-based groups, and civic organizations are asked to contact me at my office at (540) 586-7792 for more information on how they can support their American Red Cross and serve their community.
Douglas W. Eggleston
Director, Emergency Services