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Red Cross seeking volunteers to help organization respond to local disasters

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The following is a news release from American Red Cross.

IDAHO FALLS — The Red Cross of Idaho and Montana needs volunteer duty officers to help the organization respond to disasters across the region.

These volunteers serve as Red Cross dispatchers, taking calls from the field during disasters such as house fires.

Duty officers send a local team out to a disaster, coordinate the response and are a lifeline between the families affected and the Red Cross responders who provide lodging, food, clothing and other support.

“No two calls are ever the same,” said Kathy Mellinger, who has been a Red Cross duty officer since 2016.

Mellinger said this is a challenging but incredibly rewarding volunteer opportunity. She remembers a call a couple of years ago from two Red Cross responders reporting in after returning from a late night fire at a remote farm in east Idaho. Because of the fire’s intensity, the women parked a long way from the fire and walked to the scene in the dark.

When they arrived, they found five young men shivering as they watched everything they owned burn. The responders wrapped them in blankets and comforted them. The farm workers were in complete disbelief that someone would come all this way in the dark to find them.

“I consider it a privilege to be a tiny part of the American Red Cross team,” Mellinger said.

Last year the Red Cross of Idaho and Montana helped more than 1,270 people across the region recover from disasters like homes fires, flooding and wildfires.

Duty officers are a support position during disaster response, and all work can be done from home.

Training will be provided. Volunteers should be comfortable using online systems and must have access to a cell phone and computer.

Full-time duty officer volunteers commit to nine six-hour shifts per month, but Red Cross is willing to work with volunteers’ schedules.

Learn more about becoming a Red Cross volunteer duty officer by calling 208-258-0592 or emailing IDMT.Recruiting@redcross.org.

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