‘Boot camp’ trains new Red Cross volunteers for disasters

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The American Red Cross is putting volunteers to the test with a “boot camp.”

Since hurricanes Harvey and Irma ripped through mass portions of Texas and Florida, dozens of new volunteers across central Pennsylvania have come forward in hopes of helping victims. While those volunteers are anxious to help, the American Red Cross requires specific training before individuals can be deployed for disaster relief.

“They’ll be learning everything they would need to know to operate a shelter,” said Kim Maiolo, a spokesperson for American Red Cross Central Pennsylvania Region. “It’s been an extremely enthusiastic response from this area. People want to help.”

Maiolo said about 60 people from the Harrisburg and Lewisburg areas registered to become volunteers and passed background and health checks in order to become eligible for the Sheltering Fundamentals Boot Camp. Along with completing six hours of classroom instruction, each volunteer is required to be age 18 or older, be able to deploy for a 2-3 week period and work

Along with completing six hours of classroom instruction, each volunteer is required to be age 18 or older, be able to deploy for 2-3 weeks and work 12-hour shifts while deployed. Deployment is not guaranteed.

“It’s really hard to say,” Maiolo said. “They could be deployed to areas that are affected by Irma and Harvey. There is a huge area that has been impacted, so there’s no way of really knowing where folks could go or if they’ll go this time around, but it’s not a question of if they’ll go, it’s when. It might not be this disaster, but it might be the next.”

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