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Local Red Cross expands outreach to assist during emergency situations

Palmdale mixer brings officials, residents together

Merdies Hayes | 8/11/2017, midnight
So often in emergencies, the public relies on first responders to come to the aid of those in distress. These ...

So often in emergencies, the public relies on first responders to come to the aid of those in distress. These police officers, firefighters and EMTs are a familiar and welcome sight when things go bad. But there is another group of responders who are there each time during extraordinary events, natural disasters for instance, whose presence provides an assurance that the individual and family can soon return to a normal daily life.

The American Red Cross is the organization that provides compassionate care to those in need.

Yesterday in Palmdale, the Antelope Valley Humanitarian Leaders Mixer was held to bring together local leaders in the faith community, business, nonprofit agencies, education and city government to find ways to instill in the public the best practices to remain safe and secure in an emergency. The Antelope Valley is witness to any number of emergency situations through the year. Just last week, for instance, flash flooding inundated Acton resulting in severe damage to some homes, businesses and transportation corridors.

Once again, the Red Cross was there to calm nerves and to provide assistance to those in need.

Increasing ‘visibility’ of Red Cross

“We want to increase the visibility of the Antelope Valley Red Cross because it is crucial to reach a broad audience to inform them of services available in a time of emergency,” said Raul Claros, executive director of the Northern Valleys American Red Cross Los Angeles Region. Claros is beginning his second year in the position and said yesterday’s open house served as an opportunity to get residents involved with emergency preparedness.

“Having many community leaders present at the open house is vital to our core mission of informing the public of what services are available in time of need,” Claros said. “The Red Cross is an active and vibrant part of the community, and we must get the news out that we are here and ready to provide help when needed. Because you can never quite anticipate an emergency, good early preparedness and information about who to contact is an important asset.”

The Red Cross responds to approximately 70,000 disasters in the United States every year, ranging from home fires that affect a single family, to hurricanes that affect tens of thousands of persons, to earthquakes that may impact millions. In these events, the Red Cross provides shelter, food, health and mental health services that assist families and entire communities in getting back on their feet. The Red Cross is not a government agency. Rather, it serves as an essential part of the response when a disaster strikes by working in partnership with other agencies and organizations that provide services to disaster victims. The organization is more than a depository for blood—although this may be the most important and historically familiar aspect of its services—it represents a permanent body of mostly volunteers who step in to help in dire situations.

Volunteers are key component

“Ninety-six percent of Red Cross personnel are volunteers ... ordinary people doing extraordinary work,” Claros explained. “The response and recovery to any emergency can be much more effective and positive by being active in a community. That’s why we need volunteers, and we hope that getting together this week in Palmdale we will encourage more persons to consider working with us on a regular basis.”