The American Red Cross North Jersey Region invited The Salvation Army to participate in the January 7 session of the Red Cross Collaborating Essentials course, a free instructor-led disaster course designed to promote and support collaboration at the Red Cross.
Participants engaged in discussions and scenarios to determine the different skills and behaviors required for building and maintaining internal and external relationships. The course emphasizes the role that collaboration plays in the successful delivery of disaster services.
What better way to learn about collaborating than to actually collaborate on taking the class together? Four members of The Salvation Army’s New Jersey Emergency Disaster Services leadership team attended – and not only did they get a better understanding of the roles the Red Cross has during the Preparedness, Response and Recovery phases of a disaster – the four Red Crossers who attended got a great understanding of the same from The Salvation Army. Both organizations are key partners to the State of New Jersey when it comes to large scale disasters like Hurricane Irene or Superstorm Sandy, and also coordinate, collaborate, cooperate and communicate with each other on smaller scale events as well.
North Jersey Regional Mass Care Manager Lauri Gill taught the course utilizing examples and activities from both organizations during the class. The most frequent disasters which both organizations respond to in New Jersey are home fires. While The Salvation Army’s response tends to focus on supporting the first responders on-scene, many times that effort needs to be coordinated with the Red Cross activities supporting the disaster-impacted residents. Both organizations agreed that pre-planning, joint training and communications ahead of disasters helps the coordination in advance of any disaster responses.
During the class, a multi-family fire at a resident hotel in Middlesex County temporarily pulled away many of the participants and we were able to incorporate the unfolding situation directly into the class. The class reached out to Lyn Scott, disaster program manager, American Red Cross North Jersey Region, who covers Middlesex County. Lyn was able to provide a live update to the course participants on what was happening at the fire scene including how the Red Cross and The Salvation Army were collaborating on providing assistance to the 80-plus first responders and the residents of the 25 impacted units.
The North Jersey Region plans to host Collaborating Essentials at least quarterly in 2015 and we will continue to offer this free disaster training opportunity to all of our disaster partners.
By Michael Prasad
Disaster Support Functions Director | American Red Cross North Jersey Region
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