American Red Cross Ramps Up Wildfire Training Ahead of Busy Season

We’ve seen the headlines, and the forecasts, and it looks like we could be in for another busy summer of disasters.  The climate crisis has resulted in more extreme weather events, more natural disasters, and disasters on a larger scale.  In 2023, we saw 28-Billion-dollar disasters.  That’s a record number that beat the record that was set the year before.  It’s a trend we take seriously and try to make sure we are prepared for.

If you volunteer for the Red Cross, you know this is the time of year everyone sharpens their skills to get ready for the busy wildfire and hurricane season.  We deploy hundreds of volunteers every year to disasters across the country, especially in the late spring through the fall. 

“Our region is widely recognized for having the best-trained responders to disasters.  The same is true for the instructors here.  Red Crossers from the Cascades Region went on over 300 deployments in 2023, throughout the country and the US territories, from Alaska and Hawaii to Florida and Puerto Rico,” says Ron Johnson Cascades Training Lead.  

Training events like the one recently in Portland, are important to make sure we are ready when we get the call.

This year’s Training Academy took place at our chapter office in Portland and included close to 15 different classes including:

Shelter Supervisor, Disaster Health Services, Facilities Management, Warehouse Training, Deployment 101, Working with Diverse Communities, Concept of Operations, Government Operations, and Public Affairs.

This is one of many training events we do all year. In fact, so far in 2024, we’ve held 150 classes in our region. 

One of the most effective training tools is our Shelter Simulation.  Volunteers take on roles in a makeshift shelter to learn the ins and outs of shelter life.

“The Red Cross is 90 percent volunteer run. We couldn’t do our work without them. Trainings like these make sure we’re sending out subject matter experts to respond to disasters in our region and across the country,” says Red Cross Cascades CEO Priscilla Fuentes.

The Red Cross has about 2,500 volunteers in Oregon and SW Washington.  They all have different skills and different levels of involvement, so when we ramp up to disaster season, we rely on each and every one of these folks.  We are also looking to recruit new folks who want to help us with our mission to prevent and alleviate human suffering.  Whether it’s a fire in Oregon, a hurricane in Florida, or tornadoes in Texas, we are ready to pack our bags and go help.  These training events make it possible.

If you are interested in volunteering for the Red Cross, see all of our opportunities here   Put on that red vest and we’ll do good things together!