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Author Topic: Disaster Services - Speaker John Ruiz - 10/06/10 & 10/13/10  (Read 5268 times)
« on: October 07, 2010, 03:33:21 PM »

Please write a response regarding your impressions from our discussions on Disaster Services. What are some things that were said that stuck out to you? What role or action do you plan to take after hearing about the demand for disaster services and responsibilities of DAT volunteers? In what ways does Disaster Services incorporate the mission and fundamental principles of the American Red Cross?
« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2010, 05:21:57 PM »

   I had no idea that there was such a chain of communication and responsibilities required for Disaster Services: Disaster Action Team, caseworkers, Transition Team, Disaster Relief Operation, etc... For smaller scale responses (i.e. single house fire), Disaster Services provide immediate, short term, disaster caused needs of those affected including financial assistance for emergency housing, clothing and schools, and transportation, recovery planning, and much more. This is important to ensure that people affected by the disaster have a chance to recover their lives and not become homeless or forced to spend money on clothing. These services focus on the long term needs of the victims. An interesting topic that was touched upon was the demand for money simply due to the fact that the person was in a disaster. This stemmed from the post-Hurricane Katrina American Red Cross system of "handing out" money without any direct use to families because they were affected by the disaster, resulting in families affected by other disasters demanding money as well, when the American Red Cross can't just simply give money to anyone just because he/she believes he/she deserves it. One must also consider where the money comes from. Before this class, I never thought about how the American Red Cross funds all of its programs and services. All of their money comes from donors; therefore, fundraising becomes a crucial aspect of the American Red Cross. I also found it fascinating how important disaster readiness is for your own community as well as others. If you have a plan of action prepared for when a disaster hits, you have a better chance of being able to help yourself and others. You may also have the necessary skills required of volunteers helping in a national disaster or abroad. As part of the Disaster Services committee in the Decal, I am super interested in getting involved with disaster preparedness and relief. I am working on getting certified as a CPR instructor to help others prepare for disasters as well as prepare myself if I am needed in case of an emergency outside of my community. The American Red Cross's Disaster Services respects human life and does not discriminate. It doesn't argue whether the disaster is important or not and is not part of any other organization. Service is completely voluntary and everyone works together across all boundaries of the world. In these ways, Disaster Services fulfills all of the Fundamental Principles of the Red Cross. However, some aspects of Disaster Services walk a fine line. For example, they must determine what the need of the victims are and provide them with services accordingly; however, it's hard to determine one's needs without knowing everything about them.
« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2010, 06:17:07 PM »

I enjoyed John Ruiz’s presentation on Disaster Services very much.  There was a lot I did not know about Disaster Services prior to this lecture.  I was unaware that the majority of the disasters the American Red Cross in the Bay Area responds to are apartment and house fires.  Thus, when one usually thinks of Disaster Services, huge hurricanes and floods come to mind.  In actuality, fires happen more locally and to a greater degree.  When walking unto a fire scene, I also was unaware that firefighters and the American Red Cross Disaster Relief work together.  Furthermore, food, clothing, and temporary housing are awarded to those victims in dire need.  In all, Disaster Relief tries to help the victims rebuild their lives.  I was unaware of Disaster Relief procedure until the lecture was provided.

After hearing the presentation on Disaster Services, I first want to educate myself on preparedness.  I want to be aware of what I might need in case of a fire, earthquake, or flooding.  Living in the Bay Area, known for its earthquakes, can be scary if not properly prepared for an emergency.  After I’m done educating myself, I want to educate others.  Furthermore, I’m going to sign up for one of the seminars given at the American Red Cross on Disaster Relief to learn more.  After learning all I need to know, I’m going to become an active volunteer.  In all, Ruiz’s presentation really encouraged me to play an active role in the community and hopefully one day internationally.

The Disaster Services incorporates the mission and fundamental principles of the American Red Cross through its acts of generosity and volunteering.  Because Disaster Services is volunteer work, one has to be selfless and display inherent characteristics of humility.  The American Red Cross and Disaster Services both help those who are unable to help themselves.
« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2010, 06:52:27 PM »

Hearing John Ruiz speak about ARC disaster services made me realize that i have much to learn about the Red Cross, especially about the Disaster Services and my own preparedness. My first reaction was to what Ruiz said about our own individual readiness. It is important for every household to be informed about disaters and how to be prepared. Individuals and communities need to start by informing themselves and those around them. They then need to take steps to physically prepare and organize in case of disaster, especially in a place like the Bay Area where a devastating earthquake is said to be highly probable in the next decade. As Ruiz said, it is important to be informed, educated and prepared, as an individual because if we aren't able to take care of ourselves then we will not be able to help others. This is extremely important for the Red Cross chapters because if they are not organized and prepared as best as possible, then they will not be able to provide services for the local communities or large cities affected by a disaster. For the large chapters, this means a special coordination and discourse with local and state governments because without their help, the red cross cannot carry out their duties.
             I found the discourse about hurricane Katrina as well as the recent San Bruno disaster to be very interesting. It was eye opening to be reminded of the immense toll that disasters take on people and communities. It was nice to hear the amount of effort that goes into helping people on both large and small scales. I did not realize the extent to which the Red Cross provided help to affected people. The Red Cross does not operate on an impersonal and discconnected level. Instead they are directly involved with people and are on the front lines so they can observe and witness the needs of the people that they are serving. I hope that I can one day be involved on this level- whehter I am with the red cross or not, I would love to be able to help people to that extent.

« Reply #4 on: October 19, 2010, 01:42:15 PM »

Before the discussion on Disaster Services, I was under the impression that the American Red Cross only provided direct assistance and provisions such as food and shelter. I didn’t realize that they also provided financial assistance to pay for basic necessities, so this surprised me. After hearing about the responsibilities of DAT volunteers, I imagine that it would be extremely rewarding to be a client caseworker and being able to work closely with victims to connect them with resources and provide them with further assistance. However, it must also be emotionally taxing, especially when the effects of disasters can be so widespread and it must take a great deal of time to address each victim’s unique needs. During the discussion, John brought up the difficulty of having to make a judgment call on providing assistance on the basis of need and verifiable damage. This also demonstrated how this particular role and its responsibilities can be morally challenging, due to the fact that, as humans, we generally have an innate desire to help those in need and it becomes a struggle when there needs to be proof that damage occurred. Another intriguing idea that arose during the discussion was the idea of disaster assistance vs. disaster compensation, which I paralleled to the debate of band-aids vs. structural change in international development. In the Global Poverty and Practice minor, we often discuss what the most effective way is to bring about positive social change and whether it is providing big, one-time solutions (i.e. medicines and drugs to cure or manage symptoms from water-borne diseases) or larger, more root-based changes (i.e. providing education about hygiene and sanitation to community members and working on improving water filtration systems). Oftentimes, these solutions overlap with one another, just as disaster compensation and disaster assistance do not seem to be mutually exclusive. The discussion on Disaster Services made me appreciate what the ARC does in terms of preparedness, especially because we usually don’t expect or anticipate disasters to occur and, with our culture so focused on "the present" and what is happening right now, we don’t tend to think about potentially bad things that will happen in the future. The discussion has shown me that it is crucial to at least consider worst case scenarios and has helped me think about what I would do in those types of situations. Disaster Services represent the ARC’s dedication to humanity and neutrality, because they serve to meet the needs and alleviate the suffering and hardships that disaster victims have faced. Disaster Services also reflect the principle of impartiality, because they help victims regardless of their identity.
« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2010, 04:00:09 PM »

I agree with everyone else who didn't know that the disaster services have so many sections and different people who take care of different tasks within the branch. I thought that people were given a certain time to volunteer and if a disaster or emergency came up they were ready to help. I did not know that you volunteer for a given time period like a month or two and you are waken up to serve those in need. I didn't have a clue that people volunteered so devotedly that they take time of their day even sleep to help. I like that fact that the volunteers in this branch can go to other places in the nation to help in case disasters occur. DAT volunteers I think are very important and I appreciate them for everything they do and for the time they take from their lives to help people like in Katrina and the San Mateo Fire.
Emerson Sibrian
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« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2010, 05:23:29 PM »

John Ruiz’s presentation on Disaster Services and his role was very informative. Most of the   information he presented us with was helpful because it gave us the prospective of an actual worker. Most of what he said was new to me because I didn’t really know how or what the Disaster Services actually helped with. I did not know that the American Red Cross workers actually went to the scene of the disaster right after it occurred. I always thought that they would help out a few days or weeks after, I didn’t know how quick they actually responded. It was nice and reassuring to here that they start working immediately after hearing about a disaster. It’s nice to know that people actually cared about helping others and giving up their time for no pay, just to help the cause. Also I always assumed every area had workers that specialized in the same types of problems and was amazed to find out that the American Red Cross actually sends people from different parts of the nation to help a different locations. Also it was very nice to hear that the Disaster Services helps with home and apartment fires. I didn’t know that they helped people by giving them money and a place to stay after a fire. I thought they only responded to big natural disasters. Also it was nice to see that they work with the local firefighters and different organizations to help further find people in need. It’s nice to see that they also have the appropriate resources to help out.

After hearing the presentation I feel more incline to help. I will look more into becoming a member of the Disaster Services. It seems like a good and unique opportunity. It’s a great way to meet people, help out, and network. They incorporate the mission by helping for no money gain, and not discriminating against certain groups or individuals. They act to help and do good for the cause.
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