Red Cross volunteers are dangerously low this Hurricane Season

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Myrtle Beach Red Cross officials are on standby, they're holding conference calls, and the trucks are packed and ready to go. All this is to prepare for whatever damage Tropical Storm Arthur may bring, but there's the lack of people to work it. WMBF News has been told if Arthur or another disaster hits our area this week, there is a shortage of volunteers to respond to the emergency.

Director of Public Support Nanci Conley says the organization is about 100 volunteers short of where they need to be to properly handle disaster response. This volunteer shortage can be all the difference in a mass emergency situation, especially since the Red Cross heavily depends on volunteers to function. Ninety-six percent of the workforce is made up of strictly people volunteering their time.

If there is extensive damage from Arthur or another natural disaster, then the Red Cross will have to rely on volunteers from other areas of the state to come in and help. Since it involves traveling to get here, the concern is that solution takes more time, and in a mass emergency, the responses in the first few hours are some of the most crucial.

Now that we're already dealing with our first named storm of the hurricane season, Red Cross officials are making calls to volunteers for help.

"We're doing call downs to see what volunteers are available," said Conley. "Just because we have almost 300 volunteers does not mean that everyone's available to work at this point and time. So we continually need to have people trained."

Getting volunteers to join the Red Cross is a lengthy process that doesn't happen overnight. The organization not only needs volunteers, it needs trained volunteers for an emergency, and that training can take up to 7 hours. It's an extensive process to make sure that a volunteer is ready to be one of the first respond during a mass disaster like a hurricane. Right now they need volunteers to help with the jobs that handle preliminary mass care, food and shelter, and mass feeding.

Conley says the timing is what matters now.

"Arthur is here," explained Conley. "The training needs to happen for volunteers before the events. So we're asking people now to continue to think about it."

The next scheduled training is for July 15th. If there is a group of six people of more that are interested, then the Red Cross will set up a special time for you and come to where you are.

Call 843-477-0020 for more information on how to volunteer, or go to this link:

Copyright 2014 WMBF News. All rights reserved.