“I enjoy being able to help my neighbors and people in need, and to be able to use my medical expertise,” Jeff Slattery said as he talked about his role of being an American Red Cross Disaster Health Services volunteer. The Red Cross is currently in need of volunteers like Jeff; medical professionals who can work in disaster situations to address people’s health needs in alignment with their professional licensure.
Jeff is a licensed paramedic in the state of Ohio and he is the proud recipient of the South Central Ohio Chapter’s Exceptional Volunteer Service Award for 2020-21. Jeff works in many roles in his chapter and health services work gives him great satisfaction.
Jeff explained that licensed health care professionals are needed as volunteers in shelters across the country to address people’s health needs and to provide hands-on care. “Often times when people flee their home for an evacuation shelter, they leave behind their eyeglasses, or medication, or other needed health care items, we can assist in getting quick replacements by working with pharmacies and doctors’ offices,” Jeff said. “The volunteers can also get replacements for durable medical equipment such as cpap machines, walkers or canes by working with local pharmacies.”
“The greatest need right now is for volunteers who can travel to work in shelters,” Jeff said. This includes deployment to safe shelters in wildfire areas, parts of the nation hit by hurricanes, and other disasters. Jeff pointed out that health care workers can volunteer as associates or in supervisory positions. “This is an opportunity for us to use our training and expertise,” he said. An RN, LPN, LVN, APRN, NP, EMT, paramedic, MD/DO or PA with a current and unencumbered license is welcome to apply. Jeff stressed that there is specific training for disaster health volunteers, most of it online.
Based on his licensure and experience, Jeff is also part of a national health screening team for volunteers, “the health and well-being of the volunteers is also critical,” he said.
While healthcare workers, in general, are used to attending to a patient’s healthcare needs, a sympathetic, caring healthcare worker is even more important when shelter clients are also in crisis as a result of the disaster they have suffered.
If you are interested in becoming a Disaster Health Services Volunteer please go to Redcross.org/volunteertoday