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Wildfire season and COVID-19 increase demand for trained disaster volunteers.

Experts say the Pacific Northwest could be in for a busy wildfire season this summer and the American Red Cross needs volunteers to help in our local communities.

"The coronavirus pandemic will make it challenging to deploy trained disaster volunteers from other parts of the country should a large emergency occur in Oregon or Southwest Washington. In light of this, the Red Cross is asking you to be ready to help your community," said Rebecca Marshall, Regional Disaster Officer, Red Cross Cascades Region. "Train now to be a Red Cross volunteer and answer the call to help if the need arises here in our region."

Full information on volunteer opportunities is available at redcross.org/volunteer/become-a-volunteer/urgent-need-for-volunteers.html.

SHELTER HELP NEEDED There is a special need for volunteers to support sheltering efforts. Because of COVID-19, the Red Cross is placing those needing a safe place to stay in emergency hotel lodging when possible. If hotel stays aren't possible, then the Red Cross will open traditional shelters. To help keep people safe, the organization has put in place additional precautions and developed special training for its workforce.

It needs volunteers to help staff shelter reception, registration, feeding, dormitory, information collection and other vital tasks to help those it serves. Both associate and supervisory level opportunities are available.

HEALTH SERVICES SUPPORT NEEDED If you are an RN, LPN, LVN, APRN, NP, EMT, paramedic, MD/DO or PA with an active, current and unencumbered license, the Red Cross needs your support, Marshall said. Volunteers are needed in shelters to help assess people's health. Daily observation and health screening for COVID-19-like illness among shelter residents may also be required. RNs supervise all clinical tasks.

Roles are also available for Certified Nursing Assistants, Certified Home Health Aides, student nurses and medical students.

"We need volunteers who can provide care as delegated by a licensed nurse in shelters," Marshall said. "This could include assisting with activities of daily living, personal assistance services, providing health education and helping to replace medications, durable medical equipment or consumable medical supplies."

FOR THOSE INTERESTED IN VOLUNTEERING If you are interested in helping should a disaster occur, go to redcross.org/volunteertoday or contact the Central Oregon region offices at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The Red Cross encourages volunteers to review the CDC guidance at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-at-increased-risk.html" for people who are at higher risk for severe illness, consult their health care provider and follow local guidance.


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