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The American Red Cross wants to prepare communities for disasters

A group of people sitting in a circle. One man is standing and talking to the group. He is wearing a red vest with the words American Red Cross on it. There are other small groups of people sitting in circles in the background.
Anna Johnson
Volunteers taught members of the public what to expect when staffing an emergency shelter.

The American Red Cross held a sheltering boot camp at the Cache County Fairgrounds Monday to teach the public how to prepare food, set up cots and intake people into an emergency shelter.

“We have set up a large simulation of a shelter. We could fit maybe 200 people in this space, but the likelihood here in Cache County is more like a 30- to 50-person shelter. This is the calmest shelter you’ll ever be in," said Jocelyn Seemann. She oversees part of the American Red Cross’s response to large-scale disasters in Nevada and Utah.

Seamann said they rely on volunteers to run emergency shelters and, since the pandemic, their base of volunteers has disappeared. Sarah Marshall, the disaster program manager over Cache County said they’re holding events like this to rebuild that base.

“We are trying to come back to this area, bring the American Red Cross back because we believe that people matter and that we can be there to help,” Marshall said.

She said volunteering with organizations like the American Red Cross builds stronger communities, "Communities who work together or who know their neighbors' names are more resilient.”

She said this event, which brought together nearly 100 volunteers to learn about setting up and running an emergency shelter, was a big step forward.

“It's not so hard to set up a shelter when needed,” Marshall said.

Seemann said the skills people learn at workshops like this one will help make sure volunteers in Cache County are ready to jump in and help their neighbors when an emergency like a fire or flood does happen.

Anna grew up begging her mom to play music instead of public radio over the car stereo on the way to school. Now, she loves radio and the power of storytelling through sound. While she is happy to report on anything from dance concerts to laughter practice, her main focus at UPR is political reporting. She is studying Journalism and Political Science at Utah State University and wants to work in political communication after she graduates. In her free time, she spends time with her rescue dog Quigley and enjoys rock climbing.