Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Logistics: The Key to Effective Response


by Stan Frank

At the American Red Cross, like in the military, “Logistics” is the branch of operations that deals with the procurement, distribution, maintenance and replacement of material and personnel.  Logistics enables all other departments to function. 

In the Greater New York Region, which serves nearly 13 million people across New York City, Long Island, the Lower Hudson Valley and Greenwich, Conn., and responds to about seven emergencies daily including home fires, floods, building collapses and more, Kathie Cayton is the Regional Manager of Logistics.

logistics
Kathie Cayton 
Kathie joined the American Red Cross nearly 5 years ago. Before becoming Greater New York Regional Manager of Logistics, she served as a Disaster Program Manager and Regional Logistics Manager for the Northeast New York Region, and Regional Logistics and Mass Care Manager for the Western/Central and Eastern New York Regions. Prior to joining the Red Cross, Kathie held senior management positions with the Girl Scouts ”Heart of Hudson” Council. 

“Our goal is to be ready for any emergency, large or small. We pre-stage equipment and supplies throughout the Greater New York Region and our team can respond rapidly to any event,” said Kathie.

Logistics oversees the following activities:

Facilities
Red Cross shelter
Example of cots set up at a shelter.
When a major emergency occurs, the first thing Logistics does is identify a location that can be used as a Disaster Headquarters or Staging Area, which has adequate space and facilities to accommodate the needs of the Red Cross response. Each event presents different operational needs. For example, in response to a flood or fire in a densely populated area, a facility with a large space for cots and food service would be selected. This might be in a school gym or church or large public building. Often, Logistics will work in conjunction with a public agency such as a local OEM (Office of Emergency Management) to locate an appropriate facility.

Supplies, kits and vehicles at the Middletown warehouse.
Supplies
An enormous collection of supplies and equipment is positioned across New York City, Long Island and across the Metro New York North Region. Logistics also maintains a 9000 square foot warehouse facility in Middletown, NY.  Much of the space is lined floor to ceiling with industrial shelving for storage of comfort kits, cots, blankets, clean up kits and water.   

“We also have dozens of vans, emergency response vehicles (ERVs), box trucks and tractor trailers loaded with cots, blankets, comfort kits, clean-up kits, personal supply kits, and feeding equipment all of which are stockpiled at various sites throughout the region and ready to go when and where they are needed,” said Kathie.  

Stocked trailers at Brooklyn Navy Yard.
Supplies are also strategically located at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, where 10 stocked tractor trailers are ready for immediate use.

The Supply team maintains computer inventories of all New York supplies and equipment and can order additional needed inventory from National’s warehouses including the nearest warehouse in Pennsylvania. When a requisition is received, staff can quickly determine if we have the needed supplies in stock or need to draw upon National’s inventory or need to purchase or rent it from private vendors.  

Procurement
Because of the wide range of emergencies and disasters the Red Cross responds to, there is often a need to procure additional supplies to meet needs specific to an event. To prepare for this contingency, the Red Cross has contracts with vendors throughout the country for the purchase or rental of things like additional cots, chairs, portable restrooms, portable showers, janitorial supplies, dumpsters, fork lifts, cars and trucks, furniture, copy services, building maintenance supplies, ready-to-eat food services and all types of medical equipment such as wheelchairs, canes, walkers, etc. If additional equipment or supplies are needed, the Red Cross has contracts with many major vendors across the region and across the county for the purchase or rental of additional vehicles, supplies or specialized products.              

In-Kind Donations
During large scale disasters, the Logistics team will often work with the Development team to develop partnerships with supply manufacturers or distributors, who may donate materials at a reduced cost or at no cost. For example, a manufacturer of work gloves may donate several cases or a truckload of its products during an emergency.

Transportation
Depending on the nature of the response to a disaster or emergency, the Red Cross could utilize different types of chapter-owned or rental vehicles, including cars, SUVs, trucks, and trailers. Keeping track of all these vehicles, their usage, their location, their condition, and their drivers is a challenging job.

To manage this function, the Logistics team maintains a sophisticated computer system that tracks all vehicles at all times until they are returned to their original location.


The Logistics Team
All of the logistics functions would not be possible without the amazing Logistics staff and volunteers. Depending on the size and nature of an emergency or disaster, Kathie can draw upon her staff and a large number of Logistics volunteers who are trained and equipped to respond rapidly. 

Throughout the year, the team holds meetings, training opportunities, assists at events, participates in exercises, and last year held an ERV-Rodeo!

“To effectively respond to any emergency or disaster, you first need people with a commitment to help,” said Kathie. “To enable them to help, however, you need them to be able to access the proper equipment, supplies and materials.  At the Red Cross we provide both!  We have the people and the logistical system for them to function at the highest level. Although we hope it never occurs, we are ready for any challenge that comes our way.”


If you would like to join the Logistics Group as a volunteer, 
contact Kathie Cayton at Kathie (dot) cayton (at) redcross (dot) org



Tuesday, March 28, 2017

In Case You Missed It - Mar 27

Health Care in Danger Panel Discussion
Over the last 7 days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 121 adults and 69 children following 52 local disasters. Here are some highlights from last week and a preview of upcoming activities (see below).

Last Week in Review


Upcoming Events and Opportunities
  • Mar 28, 31, Apr 3: Red Cross blood drive: 2 to 7pm: 520 West 49th Street, Manhattan. Schedule an appointment to donate today.
  • Mar 31-Apr 2: The American Red Cross of Greater New York is hosting the second annual Disaster Ready Summit! Learn more about the courses and sign up here.
  • Apr 3: The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement Class explores the history of the Movement from its inception with the ICRC in 1863 all the way to the three components of the Movement today.
  • Apr 8: Every eight minutes, the American Red Cross brings help and hope to people in need, thanks to heroes like you. Join us for a FREE orientation and learn how you can uncover your Inner Hero by joining our volunteer team.


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

In Case You Missed It - Mar 20

Red Crossers celebrating Red Cross Month with Empire State Building lighting.
(Photo: Steven Thorne / American Red Cross)
Over the last 7 days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 178 adults and 33 children following 59 local disasters. Here are some highlights from last week and a preview of upcoming activities (see below).

Last Week in Review

Upcoming Events and Opportunities
  • Mar 21, 23, 27: Red Cross blood drive: 2 to 7pm: 520 West 49th Street, Manhattan. Schedule an appointment to donate today.
  • Mar 23: Please join us at the American Red Cross for a panel discussion, HEALTH CARE IN DANGER - Violence Against Medical Assistance in Armed Conflict, featuring a distinguished group of panelists. This event is part of an international public awareness campaign which had been spearheaded by the International Committee of the Red Cross in 2011. The committee works to address this violence and ensure safe access and delivery of health care in armed conflict and other emergencies. RSVP here today
  • Mar 25: On this Saturday, the Red Cross will be holding our "Share the Red" Open-House. Everyone is welcome to attend this event to celebrate Red Cross Month and to learn more about how you can become a volunteer. RSVP today
  • Mar 31-Apr 2: The American Red Cross of Greater New York is hosting the second annual Disaster Ready Summit! Learn more about the courses and sign up here.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

In Case You Missed It - Mar 13

Long Island Red Cross Volunteers recognized for their excellence. (Photo: Catherine de Silva)
Over the last 7 days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 174 adults and 42 children following 57 local disasters. Here are some highlights from last week and a preview of upcoming activities (see below).

Last Week in Review

Upcoming Events and Opportunities

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

In Case You Missed It - Mar 7

 Award recipients at American Red Cross Metro New York North Volunteer Recognition Ceremony
(Photo: Steven Colon / American Red Cross)
Over the last 7 days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 141 adults and 59 children following 41 local disasters. Here are some highlights from last week and a preview of upcoming activities (see below).

Last Week in Review

Upcoming Events and Opportunities
  • Mar 7, 8, 10: Red Cross blood drive: 2 to 7pm: 520 West 49th Street, Manhattan. Schedule an appointment to donate today.
  • Mar 11: Long Island Red Cross chapter will be holding its annual Volunteer Recognition Event at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury, NY.
  • Mar 23: Please join us at the American Red Cross for a panel discussion, HEALTH CARE IN DANGER - Violence Against Medical Assistance in Armed Conflict, featuring a distinguished group of panelists. This event is part of an international public awareness campaign spearheaded by the International Committee of the Red Cross in 2011 to address this violence and ensure safe access to and delivery of health care in armed conflict and other emergencies. RSVP here today.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Finding Strength After Harlem Fire

by Michael de Vulpillieres, American Red Cross


“Here is where I had some of my artwork hanging,” recalls Danese Smalls as she showed me around her home, pointing at the bare wall studs where her paintings stood before the blaze. “I’m an artist and designer, so a lot of what was in the apartment were things I had created over the years,” she said with an air of sadness, “like my paintings and my jewelry.”

Smalls was visiting her gutted apartment where two months earlier fire took everything, including countless items with deep sentimental value and her cherished cat Wisdom.

“Losing Wisdom,” she said, her voice breaking up, “was like losing a child.”

Smalls had lived in this West Harlem building for more than 20 years but on November 22, 2016 the once vibrant apartment and workspace were reduced to “black soot” and rubble. That afternoon, as Smalls returned home from doing laundry in her basement, she heard her neighbor screaming, “fire!”

“I couldn’t believe it. There were huge orange flames, from the floor to the ceiling, thick black smoke,” Smalls said. “My first reaction was that I had to get Wisdom out of there.’”

Smalls was attempting to enter her apartment to save her cat when firefighters arrived and informed her that it was not safe where she was. She was directed to a community room downstairs where she anxiously and frantically awaited news. It was shortly after learning of Wisdom’s fate that she was approached by two individuals from the Red Cross.

“I was overcome with grief; I just felt so horrible,” she remembered. “When you experience something as devastating as this you need the right people around. And they [Red Cross], were the right people. They were special people, like angels.”

The Red Cross team met and waited with Smalls for hours as she began to process the loss. They reassured and comforted her, calmly discussed the next steps, offered her a few nights at a hotel and gave her some money for basic necessities.

“The cash on the gift card was so important because I had nothing,” exclaimed Smalls. “What’s so amazing to me about the Red Cross is the compassion, the patience and the care that they provided. And I found out that they were volunteers.”

Smalls was particularly touched to know that one of the volunteers began working with the Red Cross right after 9/11.

Two months after this life-changing event, Smalls is living with a friend until she is able to return home. When I met up with her, she was checking on the status of the repairs to her apartment. She said this most recent visit reassured her.

“It’s coming together,” said Smalls with a smile as she navigated her way around power tools and sheet rock. “It’s good to see the progress.”

Smalls recognizes that she has not fully recovered, yet she makes a point to tell me about all the great people in her life who have helped her move forward.

“I’m still recovering spiritually and psychologically from the trauma but I’m surrounded by people who really love and care for me. And I still have the support from the Red Cross.”



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