You Can Be An Advocate: Community Resilience Through The American Red Cross of Rochester
The American Red Cross is often known for the variety of courses on CPR, AED use, and disaster preparedness, but they are also advocated for community preparedness and resilience on an informal, person-to-person basis. I spoke with the Executive Director of the American Red Cross serving Southeastern Minnesota, Melanie Tschida, about community resilience in the face of potential future disasters.
What do recommend individuals do ahead of time to be prepared for a disaster?
We encourage individuals and families to do disaster planning, so they know what type of disasters to be ready for, what supplies they need, and what things they need to do ahead of time to make their recovery easier. We encourage families to put together an emergency kit that has bottle water, canned food, and emergency supplies, such as a radio and a first aid kit, as well as a box that contains some of their essential financial and insurance important information. These are things you want to have ready to grab in case you need to leave your house quickly, and being prepared in case of a disaster helps you recover faster. And also planning things like how to get out of the house in case of a fire or other disaster and where to meet up are important.
How do you recommend individuals encourage this type of information to be disseminated throughout their community?
It really depends on the people power we have to do it. Mostly, we work with volunteers who go out to schools and talk to kids about these topics. Then, these kids bring home topics that hopefully turn into conversations in their families. We are always looking for people to spread the word, whether at a formal event like a neighborhood night or speaking in a local school or if it is just a quick conversation. We have no shortages of willing audiences, but we are always looking for more volunteers to help out. In terms of resources, most of our information is online now or available via apps, so the more people who see that, the better.
Are there any classes available for disaster response or emergency preparedness?
We’ve moved away from those classes as there was not a high demand. But there are plenty of resources available and we would love to have more people willing to spread the information to others.
It sounds like there is a lot of great knowledge available for emergency preparedness available through the American Red Cross. What advice do you have on building a more resilient community for any disaster that make strike and making those changes meaningful and sustainable?
We would love to have more people step up to volunteer or spread the word in their community to increase that resilience. As I said, we would love to have more people power to keep spread the word, if someone were to enjoy that, but right now, it is kind of limited. So I would just encourage people to be ready and think ahead, and talk to others about how to be prepared.
Note: This interview was condensed and edited for clarity.