EMA invites volunteers to training

Published 8:15 pm Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Just in time for the holidays, the Pike County Emergency Management Agency will be promoting cooperation in times of disaster and safety on school buses.

On Dec. 1, representatives from the Salem-Troy Baptist Association, the United Methodist Church, the Red Cross and Salvation Army will gather for a Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) meeting.

VOAD is a cooperative alliance among volunteer groups to ensure that all needs are covered during a disaster situation, which could include anything from a large-scale industrial accident to a tornado to a flood to a chemical spill.

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To describe VOAD’s role, EMA Director Jeanna Barnes uses a simple but effective analogy for a disaster situation: a picnic.

It won’t be a great picnic if everyone brings the hamburger buns, Barnes said. In the same way, VOAD ensures that each volunteer organization will provide a specific type of aid—including food, water, clothing and shelter—during a disaster. By cooperating through VOAD, volunteers can provide aid without overlapping their services with one another. That way, all needs are taken care of and every group knows the role it will play in a disaster, Barnes said.

“It’s a way to bring trained volunteers together,” Barnes said. “They’re taking steps to prepare for a quick recovery in times of disaster.”

The meeting will be held at the Colley Senior Complex at 9 a.m. and is open only to active members of each volunteer organization, Barnes said.

She added that services like VOAD and emergency relief are yet another reason to support local charities, especially during the holidays.

“We like to encourage local donations. It goes right back to the people,” she said. “You may help yourself one day with it.”

On Dec. 1, 2, and 3, the EMA will also host a School Bus Safety presentation in local elementary schools.

Safety presentations will be held by Crossgate Services, a company in Warrior that specializes in bus safety for kids.

The highlight and host of the program is Buster, a moving, talking, mini school bus with working headlights and eyes that blink and turn. Children, parents and bus drivers are all invited to the event.

Buster will be at Pike County Elementary School on Dec.1, Banks Primary School on Dec. 2, and Goshen Elementary School on Dec. 3.

Each school will host three programs, one from 8:30 am to 9:30 am, one from 10:30 am to 11:30 am, and one from 12:30 pm to 1:30 pm.