Red Cross volunteers stand ready to help

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 31, 2003

When Bob Brinkman retired from First Farmers and Merchants Bank, he and his wife, Lavonne, knew they wanted to give their time to the community. They stopped in at the Mower County Red Cross office and said they wanted to volunteer.

Now, two years later, they are part of the Red Cross Disaster Team.

"What we do is respond to disasters like a single-home fire, local flooding and hazard material spills. We are trained to travel throughout the nation. We have yet to be called on a national emergency," Bob said.

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The couple have taken their disaster training in Austin, Rochester and Red Wing. When they go through a training

session, it usually lasts all day. They go to refresher courses every year for CPR and emergency first aid.

The Brinkmans have certificates of what they have completed as far as training. One thing that the Red Cross stresses and trains their volunteers is to not discriminate against the people that they are aiding.

"On the news it showed how the Red Cross provided water for the people in Basra. We have to help people no matter what their race, color or if we are at war with them," he said.

The Red Cross is an international organization and volunteers network with each other when they are in a disaster.

"What we are trained to do is set up an emergency area when there is a disaster, such as a tornado. We find out who is capable and can take care of all the phases to set up a safe area for victims," she said.

At a Red Cross emergency area, the names of every person that come in is written down and no one can leave with out checking out. This is done so if someone is looking for a person, they can find them.

"We have met so many people being involved with the Red Cross. We have found out how involved this organization is throughout the world. March was Red Cross month and we took a road trip to Florida. We saw a good deal of banners in each town announcing Red Cross month," she said.

The Brinkmans were the disaster team at a house fire in LeRoy a couple months ago.

"When we got there, the victims were so upset. I gave them each a hug. A hug can be the best thing sometime," she said.

They are on call different months for a week at a time in case of a disaster. They have attended simulations of disaster training in Dexter, Grand Meadow, Adams and LeRoy.

"We have met so many people volunteering through the Red Cross. Volunteering makes you feel so good. Everyone should take time to volunteer. More volunteers are always needed. We have gotten so much out of helping the Red Cross," he said.