The American Red Cross recently conducted a training seminar for Cavalier, Pembina, Towner, and Ramsey Counties with representatives from those county’s Emergency Management Services (EMS), Public Health, and Social Services departments on how to set up an emergency shelter.
Posted on 5/23/15
By Melissa Anderson
The seminar was held at the Langdon Research and Extension center with the goal of training county personnel, in the event of a disaster, to be able to open a shelter and get the center going prior to the arrival of the Red Cross.
“It takes three to six hours by the time we get mobilized and going. This trains [the departments] to open up that shelter and take care of clients until we can get here and then we will step in and help out whereever needed,” Nancy Young, the Mass Care Lead for the Dakotas Region for the Red Cross, stated.
“They taught us the logistics and how to set up as a Red Cross shelter, so that when the Red Cross gets here, they can take over. Not that the county can’t maintain control of the shelter, but why would we want to when we are dealing with disaster? We have other things we need to do,” Karen Kempert, the Director for Cavalier County stated.
Disasters that Cavalier County could experience that might require an emergency shelter could a be a large scale flood or tornado.
“Anything that could displace people from their homes,” Kempert said.
“You make it available to people and then just wait and if people come they do and if they don’t, you take it down,” Kempert continued.
In Cavalier County there are several locations for designated Red Cross shelters. Langdon’s is the activity center and there are more locations throughout the county such as Osnabrock, Sarles, and Munich.
In order for a shelter to be made available, a disaster must first be declared by either the city it happens in or the county. The EMS director will call the Red Cross to mobilize them and then the EMS will mobilize their personnel and community members who have had the training. The trained members will go to the designated shelter site and begin the process of setting up the shelter.
The training is important for not only rural counties such as those in attendance but is vital for larger, more populated areas where not everyone is familiar with those who reside in the communities.
“For rural counties it’s important because we are a long ways away from help, so we are going to need to do it first until a more coordinated effort, like the Red Cross, can come in and do it,” Kempert stated.
Emergency disasters are not the only uses for this training. An example Kempert gave was if a snowstorm were to occur and there were stranded motorists the shelter could be put in place.
The costs incurred by the emergency shelter would be paid for by the Red Cross organization once the shelter is disbanded.
“No county funds would be expended at all,” Kempert stated.
For Cavalier and Pembina County Social Services Director Jill Denault, the training served as some peace of mind should a disaster event ever occur, her team will be prepared.
“Every time I think about having to set up a shelter I get a bit anxious about it, and making sure we are doing what we need to be doing,” Denault stated.
The shelter training is very important to the Social Services Department of Cavalier and Pembina as it is part of their role in the county EMS disaster plan.
“I think it was very good training,” Denault said.
Familiar faces would still be present at the emergency shelter if one were to be set up, according to Denault. The Social Services and EMS staff, while attending to other duties in the event of a disaster, would still have some duties and be a necessary presence at the disaster shelter as they help those displaced recover.
After the successful training the session the EMS, Social Services, and Public Health of Cavalier County are ready for any disasters that may affect the communities they serve.