Volunteers from all over the Stateline gathered at Our Saviors Lutheran Church Saturday for United Way’s emergency management mock drill to test the readiness of first responders and community volunteers.
Rockford resident Debra Hartley was among those volunteers who was briefed on a mock emergency response scenario. She was one of many local volunteers that turned out for United Way’s crisis management meeting to learn about how she can help emergency responders in the event of a large scale disaster.
“If I were in a disaster and it affected me, I would want people to reach out and help, so I want to be that same person that reaches out and helps other people when they’re at their lowest,” said Hartley.
Recently, flooding in Cedar Rapids, IA and parts of Wisconsin prompted an emergency response evacuation. It’s a glimpse of what could potentially happen in the Stateline in the event of a disaster. Here in Rockford, crisis management officials are hoping disasters like that one never happen, but they want to be prepared. That’s why their asking volunteers to help.
“When a disaster strikes, the aftermath of a disaster is what takes so long to recover from and the more volunteers you have, and the more organized and trained they are, the better our recovery is going to be,” said United Way Volunteer Dina Getty.
The meeting was designed to recruit, manage, and train volunteers, so when a disaster strikes volunteers are ready to hit the ground running to assist first responders with tasks ranging from helping with rescues to collecting donations for disaster victims.
“This is really about taking the stress away from law enforcement and using the volunteers to do so,” said United Way Community Impact Manager Paul Nolley.
Volunteer Bill Cobler works as a physician and said this meeting allowed him to offer his medical care to victims if the unimaginable happened.
“There’s a lot of things that happen after a disaster that requires citizens that have special skills, talents, and the willingness to help and that’s why I’m here,” said Cobler.
United Way hosts two of these drill each year to train new volunteers.