By Los Angeles Region CEO, Jarrett Barrios
Each time an earthquake shakes the ground it gives us a new perspective on stability. This is anything but settling. I think the feeling of helplessness and confusion that follows an earthquake is especially apparent for newer Southern CA residents, like myself, who are still getting used to the feeling of an earthquake— even the smaller ones.
Prior to taking on my current role as the Chief Executive Officer of the American Red Cross Los Angeles Region, I was with the Red Cross for over six years in Boston. And, even prior to my employment with the organization, I sat on the Board of Directors for the Massachusetts Bay Red Cross Region while serving as the Senate Chair of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Joint Committee for Public Safety & Homeland Security. In Boston, I led the Red Cross response following the Boston Marathon bombings. And in 2012, I deployed with the Red Cross to assist with Superstorm Sandy. Most recently, as many of you know, I served with the Red Cross Disaster Response team in Texas and Florida in response to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
I write all this because, although I may still be getting used to the feeling of the earth moving back and forth underneath my own feet, emergency preparedness and disaster response and relief are all areas in which I am extremely well versed.
Feeling Monday night’s earthquake in Los Angles and then hearing the news of the damage and terror in Mexico, especially having just returned from a three and a half week deployment – two weeks in Houston and a week and a half in Miami- made the potential for a large -scale emergency or disaster in the Los Angeles area seem all the more real.
Seeing the mass amounts of people affected by Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma in person was terrifying— but it was also motivating. I’m hoping today to pass that motivation on to all of you so that every Los Angeles area resident takes the necessary steps to be prepared for a large-scale disaster, like a strong earthquake.
Everyone should have an emergency preparedness kit—packed and ready with seven days of food, water and supplies for every member in your family. You should also have an emergency plan—and take the time to discuss and practice that plan with your loved ones. And remember, during an earthquake, when the ground starts to shake: drop, cover and hold on. I also can’t stress enough the importance of staying informed—and today that’s as easy as typing a web address into your browser. Preparesocal.org is a great resource. There, you can find everything you need to know to be prepared for emergencies and disasters.
Providing hope, compassion, comfort and care after a large scale emergency or disaster takes more than commitment—it takes man power. For the Red Cross that means lots and lots of qualified and trained volunteers. Right now, from the Red Cross Los Angeles Region alone, we have nearly 170 volunteers actively deployed and assisting with hurricane relief efforts. These volunteers have put their regular lives on hold to travel across the country to join thousands of Red Crossers from around the globe and help get the good people affected by Harvey and Irma back on their feet.
Whether a disaster strikes in Texas, Florida, the Caribbean, Mexico, or right here in Los Angeles, the need for volunteers will continue. If you would like to help people during their greatest time of need go to preparesocal.org/volunteer to take the steps necessary to become a Red Cross volunteer and train for vital disaster relief roles.
Because of the geographic areas affected by Harvey and Irma (and the same would most certainly apply after a strong earthquake here in Los Angeles), and because the Red Cross helps everyone—regardless of their immigration status, I am personally urging Spanish/English bilingual individuals to join the Red Cross as volunteers.
Please stay safe, join us as a volunteer if you can, and know that the Red Cross will continue to be a stable force in disaster recovery efforts— anytime, anywhere.
To meet the urgent need for volunteers to deploy and assist with Hurricane Relief Efforts, the Red Cross Los Angeles Region has launched a series of full-day, in-person trainings. These trainings will prepare new volunteers to serve in vital disaster relief roles. To learn more about Pre-Deployment Trainings, and local volunteer opportunities, click here.
Jarrett Barrios is the Chief Executive Officer at the American Red Cross Los Angeles Region. But, above all, Jarrett Barrios is a humanitarian, with more than 20 years of experience helping those in need throughout the United States and Cuba.
To learn more about Jarrett Barrios or the America Red Cross Los Angeles Region, visit RedCrossLA.org.