Interest in Disaster Relief training skyrockets
MT. VERNON – A record number of people earned the privilege to don the yellow hat as the Southwest Region of Missouri Baptist Disaster Relief held its annual training at the Baptist Hill Campground.
“We had a phenomenal turnout,” said Ron Crow, pastor of Diamond, First, and regional coordinator for Disaster Relief in the southwest part of the state. “One hundred and forty people is pretty amazing. But, with the number of disasters we’ve had, there’s been a lot of interest.”
That’s an understatement. Record-breaking ice storms slammed the southwest corner of the state last January then again in December, while crews from Missouri have been kept busy by tornados, forest fires and other disasters. Just recently, Disaster Relief crews began the cleanup process following killer tornados in the south, which killed at least 55 people. And that’s not even counting the work orders still piled up from Hurricane Katrina.
While the disasters are tragic, the storm clouds do have a silver lining.
“People are seeing the need for this hands-on ministry,” Crow said. “They’re realizing it’s something anyone can do.”
The largest demographic group to volunteer for disaster is the retired, but there was a wide spread of ages at the southwestern regional training event. The trainees underwent certification in chainsaw clean up, mass care (feeding), shower crew, childcare, damage assessment and “blue cap training,” or Disaster Relief leadership.
This training was different, and not just because of the record crowd. This time the training in each specialization was separate instead of simultaneous like previous training events. This way, people could get certified in multiple areas like chainsaw, mass care and childcare instead of just mass care.
“This is really going to help multiply our trained base,” said Crow, who is also in charge of contacting volunteers during a disaster. “It’s exciting just to be a part of something like this.”
There are four more Disaster Relief training events scheduled for this year. For information on any of these events, contact Gwen Martin at email@example.com 1-800-736-6227, ext. 631.
The statewide training event is March 7-8 at Marshall. This event offers training in child care, mass care and chainsaw. Damage assessment training will be available for blue hats.
The cost of the training is $25 and is payable at the door. Checks should be made out to the Missouri Baptist Convention. This fee covers training, shirt, hat, ID badge, pin and meals. The cost is $10 if you do not need the clothing items and badge.
Greene County Baptist Association will host chainsaw training April 5, while North Grand River Baptist Association will host mass care, chainsaw and chaplain training April 11-12. Those wishing to train as chaplains will need a reference letter from their pastor or director of missions.
Another Disaster Relief training time will be August 15-16, in the southeast region. Details have not yet been released.