Red Cross volunteers are usually among the first responders. But if a disaster struck today, local director Paige Roberts says the number of Red Cross nurses is at a critical low.
"I have no trained local nurses right now, zero. And I need at least 16 for pre-landfall shelters, and I need a good handful I could get if there's a fire," Roberts said.
Roberts says the demand for local volunteer nurses was emphasized during Katrina. All it takes is a fire or small emergency to be reminded of the need.
"People often are missing their eye glasses, their asthma inhaler, their dentures, any type of medical apparatus or medicine that is critical to their health, they lose, so we have to have a Red Cross nurse come in and document that and replace that," Roberts said.
Currently Jackson County's chapter must recruit a nurse from Hattiesburg to help out in emergencies. Roberts hopes an upcoming training session will help her fill the empty positions.
"It's really just a little extra training that makes you so valuable when any disaster happens, whether it's something we have a little bit of time to prepare like a hurricane, or whether it's something that happens very unexpectedly like a fire or tornado or chemical spill," Roberts said.
And a more prepared community means a safer place to live.
"We're always going to be here for you, the community, and we'd like the community to always be here for us," Roberts said.
Now it's up to volunteers to answer that call.
That training session will take place next Saturday, July 28th, at the Pascagoula office on Jackson Avenue. It will last from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. You can contact the Red Cross at 228-762-2455 to sign up.