While many people want to help during disaster relief efforts, having the right training is essential to an effective response. Ready When the Time Comes (RWTC), a new program from the American Red Cross and facilities maintenance supplier Grainger, ensures that volunteers are trained and ready to assist before a disaster strikes in the Baton Rouge area.
On Saturday, April 5, the Ready When the Time Comes program officially launched in the Greater Baton Rouge area with employees from national founding sponsor Grainger and local lead sponsors Albemarle and BASF participating in a full-scale disaster simulation. During the drill, volunteers practiced providing emergency shelter to disaster victims, including distribution of bedding, food preparation and delivery, and administration of physical and mental health services. The event was held at First United Methodist Church located at 224 W. Constitution Avenue in Gonzales, which served as a Red Cross staff shelter during hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.
"This area of the country knows all too well the devastation of disasters," said Vic Howell, CEO of the American Red Cross, Louisiana Capital Area Chapter. "While the American Red Cross is always ready to provide a warm, safe place for our neighbors in need and our volunteers are the some of the best in the country, we know in times of great need such as with a large-scale disaster like Hurricane Katrina, we must rely on our partners to help provide vital relief services. We are extremely pleased and excited that Grainger, BASF and Albemarle are our partners in the Ready When the Time Comes program."
Ready When the Time Comes allows the Red Cross to recruit and train volunteers from local companies and organizations so they can be mobilized quickly. Program volunteers receive specialized training in crucial disaster response, such as shelter operations, large-scale feeding efforts and damage assessment. In the event of a local large-scale disaster, the Red Cross can count on Ready When the Time Comes corporate partners to support their disaster response efforts.
"This region and its population, who have endured so much, have inspired the best qualities out of Grainger employees, especially over the last two years," said Dave Smetana, Regional Branch Services Vice President, Grainger, "More than ever, we are determined to commit our time and dedication to being ready to lend a hand when it is needed in our community. The Ready When the Time Comes program allows us to do just that."
As national founding sponsor, Grainger presented the American Red Cross with a $1 million donation in 2006 to help start Ready When the Time Comes programs in 16 Red Cross chapters nationwide, including the Louisiana Capital Area Chapter. The program has quickly grown into an example of how businesses across the nation are getting involved to ensure their communities are prepared to respond when disaster strikes. To date, more than 100 companies across the country have joined the Ready When the Time Comes program, including Credit Suisse, Sprint, Anheuser-Busch, American Express, Citigroup, State Farm, Oracle, Blockbuster, and now BASF and Albemarle. And, as a result, the national corps of Ready When the Time Comes volunteers is growing quickly, with more than 3,500 volunteers at last count.
"BASF employees have always responded generously when natural disasters have impacted people in our communities and across the country," said Mike Cohen, Senior Vice President and General Site Manager, BASF. "Ready When the Time Comes gives us a chance to provide hands-on assistance in the event of an emergency and allows our volunteers to materially help the Red Cross respond with emergency help."
"The employees of Albemarle are very pleased to join the RWTC family" said John M. Steitz, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Albemarle. "Our employees have always been tremendously active in our community, and this was never more evident than in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The devastating effects of that storm made it clear that we all have a responsibility to be prepared to act quickly and effectively when disasters strike. We thank our employees, as well as all of the organizations that have embraced this important program, and we strongly urge other companies to join us. Together, we can make a positive and lasting impact in the Baton Rouge area when it’s needed the most."
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and counsels victims of disasters; provides nearly half of the nation's blood supply; teaches lifesaving skills; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization – not a government agency – and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its humanitarian mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at www.redcrosschat.org.