Real-life Red Cross

For any of you out there who have taken a Red Cross class, you know how staged the photos in the workbooks appear and how fake the re-enactments videos seem.  Don’t get me wrong, they are amazing, but a little corny.  Three days ago my perspective changed dramatically.

9:00am my cell phone rings.    It is the local Red Cross.  ”There has been a small plane crash, can you respond?”  Naturally I say yes, jump in the shower for two minutes and head out the door.  I live about a 3 minutes drive from the Red Cross office so they assign me to the ERV (emergency response vehicle) and I roll out to the scene with a very experienced volunteer.  I will spare you the details but  we arrive to the actual site at about 1:00pm.  We park the ERV just outside of the police tape and get everything together.  All around us police, fire, federal officials, news media and countless neighbors roam the street.  The neighbors have been displaced due to the investigation and have nothing.  As soon as we are set up people swarm the vehicle.  We are handing out Gatorade, water and snacks out the side window and the people couldn’t be more grateful.  After the initial rush things calm down and I step out of the vehicle.

I walk to the front of the vehicle while chatting with another volunteer.  I am looking down the side of the truck towards its back end and in the distance you can see the wreckage of the plane and the officials working feverishly.  Looking back up the side of the truck a small child approaches.  He asks very politely if he can have a snack.  My fellow volunteer in the truck exclaims “We have a three foot customer!” and hands the boy a snack and drink out the window.  Continuing to look up the truck my eyes rest on the American Red Cross logo.   I had to stop and laugh; this is exactly what happens in the videos!  The Red Cross is that place of calmness in the face of chaos.  I can’t wait to take my next class so I can appreciate the videos in all of their glory!

Red Cross ERV in East Palo Alto, CA


Burlingame, CA – Bay Area Chapter

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