While the American Red Cross was in Storm Lake Friday showing off the Heroes Game trophy that is working its way across the state in the fashion of an Olympic torch, a regional official promoted one of its programs that involves Buena Vista County.
Firewatch training is a half-day long event that qualifies successful volunteers to respond to emergency situations when local people have suffered a disaster such as a home fire.
Buena Vista County had never had a Firewatch team until this year. When there was a need, volunteers had to be called in from other areas.
After a fire displaced a family in Clay County, a couple of volunteers from Sioux Rapids stepped forward. Joined by a few others, the first training was held in July.
A second Firewatch training is now being planned for November 10, 9 a.m.-noon. Anyone interested in signing up may contact Sheriff Gary Launderville, 749-2530.
Launderville said that having the trained Red Cross volunteers in our local communities provides a fast, personal response in the event of a fire - when victims may be overwhelmed by their losses. The volunteers are able to provide some comfort, help locate shelter and are able to access some emergency Red Cross funds for clothing and other immediate needs, according to regional Red Cross representative Jenny Hamman.
During the Friday visit with the trophy, hosted by HyVee in Storm Lake, Hamman and Launderville, who was recognized as the honored Hero for the state of Iowa at last year's Iowa/Nebraska Heroes Game, were able to share information about Red Cross programs with many who stopped at the exhibit to visit and view the massive trophy. Small first aid kits were handed out.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the resources of the Red Cross are being tested on the East Coast. While the northwest Iowa staff has not been called to the damage region, they have seen nine volunteers off so far to help in the response.