LOS ANGELES, California (KTUU) - Red Cross Alaska has deployed seven Alaskan volunteers over the last 48-hours to assist with the California wildfires, in the Los Angeles area. The volunteers are deployed for up to three weeks says Lisa Miller, the regional communications officer for Red Cross Alaska.
Overnight, roughly 615 people took refuge from the fires at 13 Red Cross and community shelters, she states.
Three of the Alaskan volunteers, deployed to LA, are volunteering as shelter workers, and another three are deployed as mass care volunteers.
“They’re there right now helping set up the shelters and giving people a safe place to stay and some food," reports Miller.
One of the Alaskans deployed to LA is a health services volunteer. Miller says health services volunteers are typically registered nurses who perform the same tasks volunteering as they do in their professional life.
Miller says that Red Cross Alaska has not heard back from the volunteers on the ground, but that is typical for a disaster situation.
“Typically, the first few days are getting oriented and getting their job responsibilities," she says. "We’ll check in on them in the next few days."
Shelter workers and mass care volunteers are deployed for around two weeks and up to three weeks. Health service volunteers are deployed for seven to 10 days, as they often need to return to work. Volunteers often have less than 24-hours' notice before they are deployed, states Miller.
Miller explains Alaskan volunteers can be deployed across the United States, but they are typically sent throughout the the Pacific region.
Red Cross Alaska provides training for people who want to become volunteers. Miller says interested parties fill out an online application, followed by a getting-to-know-you session and then training. The training is free, and the whole process takes around a month.
However, Red Cross Alaska does not just work out-of-state. Miller says there are around 600 Red Cross volunteers operating across Alaska. In 2017, volunteers were able to assist over 1,000 Alaskans displaced by home fires. She adds that winter season is typically busier for home fires.
“Our number one response is going on-scene to a home fire and helping someone who’s just lost their home,” says Miller.
Red Cross Alaska is always looking for volunteers hoping to help out locally, according to Miller.