The Minnesota North Star Disaster Training Institute made a triumphant return in early October when around 150 volunteers from 9 states turned out for a chance to build their American Red Cross disaster response skills. Both rookie and veteran disaster relief workers attended. This was no surprise for Megan Mrozek who serves as Emergency Services Director for the American Red Cross Northern Minnesota Region. “The disaster institute is a great way to train, network, and practice together.” Mrozek and five others were the key organizers of the training institute. Instructors included experienced disaster responders from across Minnesota and surrounding states.
Long-time responder and instructor Vonnie Thomas faced dozens in a Psychological First Aid course. “Your impact is so important,” she told them. Several shared stories about their personal experiences working with families during disaster response. Sometimes the emotional trauma touches the responder. Vonnie reassured them saying, “It’s okay to cry with a client. I’ve said, I need a Kleenex, too.”
The Institute’s course roster was thorough, offering everything from conducting disaster assessment and learning how to drive a Red Cross mobile feeding truck to managing a shelter and collaborating for success when delivering Red Cross relief services. More than anything, said Mrozek, the training institute gave people a chance to sit next to others. “It helps when you recognize the faces of fellow relief workers when responding to disaster.”
Grant-funded, the current hope is to hold the North Star Training Institute every two years. Click here to learn more about Red Cross opportunities and services. Click here to see more photos from the training.
Story and photos by Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross