Feel the Heat, 2015

Working With the Military on a Disaster Drill

The firefighting abilities of the 910th Airlift Wing Fire Department were on full display at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station on Thursday, October 22, 2015, as were the services provided by the American Red Cross during times of disaster.

Video credit: Cal Pusateri/American Red Cross Volunteer

The second annual “Feel the Heat” exercise involved a simulated airplane crash, to demonstrate the response of firefighters and Red Cross staff and volunteers.  The drill also showcased how the Red Cross cooperates with the military to respond to the needs of family members and others.

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Photo credit/Jim McIntyre, American Red Cross

As flames shot from the hull of the simulated wreckage, members of the 910th Civil Engineer Fire Department raced to the scene, fought the fire and searched for “survivors.”  It is those survivors and their loved ones who the Red Cross serves in the event of an aviation disaster.  The American Red Cross is responsible for tracking victims and their families, and providing them with counselling and support.  Staff members and volunteers would be activated to set-up necessary shelters, coordinate family and childcare facilities, arrange suitable non-denominational services, and make referrals to mental health professionals and support groups.

The American Red Cross responds to more than 70,000 disasters every year, big and small.  Most are home fires.  Victims are given emergency financial assistance, food, shelter, clothing and assistance with medicines, eyeglasses, even dentures they may have lost in a disaster.

It takes the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors to help the victims of disasters.  You can learn more about volunteering, and make a donation at redcross.org, or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS.  You can also text the words “Red Cross” to 90999 to make a $10.00 donation.

The American Red Cross also serves members of the military and their families through the Service to Armed Forces program.  Learn more about the ways in which the Red Cross is committed to helping the U. S. Military here.

New Disaster Ops Chief Brings Wealth of Experience To Region

Will Lead Response To All Disasters in Northeast Ohio

Tim O’Toole, who recently retired as Assistant Chief of Operations for the Cleveland Division of Fire, is the new Disaster Program Officer for the American Red Cross Northeast Ohio Region.

O’Toole served the city of Cleveland for almost 35 years in various positions of responsibility, including Chief of Staff and Acting Division Chief for the Cleveland Fire Department, and was named the first Manager of the Mayor’s Office of Emergency Preparedness, under then-mayor Michael R. White, in response to the events of September 11, 2001.

“We are extremely fortunate to have a disaster program manager with such vast experience,” said Mike Parks, CEO of the Northeast Ohio Region. “Chief O’Toole’s extensive background in disaster preparedness and emergency management will benefit the 4.5 million people who live in the 22 counties we serve.  His leadership and experience fit perfectly with the mission of the American Red Cross: to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies.”

Among the major emergencies Tim responded to and managed were the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, preparation for Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and the massive blackout of 2003.  He has also been involved with training for most of the disaster drills that have been staged in Cleveland over the past several years.

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One such drill was held at Cleveland Hopkins Airport on September 19.  Volunteers and staff from the American Red Cross provided support at the Emergency Operations Center, and staffed the Family Assistance Center, where participants role-played as loved ones concerned about the fate of the “victims” of the mock air disaster.

As Regional Disaster Officer, O’Toole will lead all American Red Cross responses to disasters of any scale in Northeast Ohio, by mobilizing the community to prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies.  He will also continue to develop and support volunteers, who serve as the primary disaster-response workforce.

If you are interested in volunteering to respond to disasters in your community and beyond, please visit our website: www.redcross.org/neo and click on “Volunteer” on the left side of the screen. You will be dropped directly into the application process. You may also call 216-431-3328 or email, NEOvolunteer@redcross.org.