Our Opinion: Red Cross a constant amid chaos

Disasters create chaos, but the assistance provided by the Red Cross is a constant.

The organization’s Heart of Missouri Chapter, founded in 1918, responds 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to help people victimized by fires, floods, storms and tornados.

March marks the observance of Red Cross Month, and the area chapter’s scope of services was described by Executive Director Dave Griffith in Sunday’s “Your Opinion” forum.

We echo the appreciation and admiration due the estimated 300 trained volunteers ready to respond when disaster strikes, both within the chapter’s 21-county service area and elsewhere.

Training is a fundamental component of the Red Cross mission.

Within the area chapter alone, Red Cross instructors in a one-year span taught life-saving skills to 22,605 people. Those disciplines include: disaster training, first aid, use of automated external defibrillators, aquatics training, baby-sitting and CPR for both people and pets.

Training equips volunteers to assist the Red Cross in attaining its goal to “reduce human suffering by helping people recover from natural and other disasters.”

Statistics for fiscal year 2011 are revealing. The chapter filed 318 cases involving house fires and other disasters, assisted 904 adults and children, and provided an average of $445 in direct assistance in each case to meet families’ immediate needs for food, clothing and shelter.

Disasters, as we all know, do not discriminate. Each of us, at any time, may be victimized by fires, floods, severe storms and tornadoes.

Although we may hope we never need to avail ourselves of disaster assistance, we take comfort in knowing it will be available if needed.

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