Well my ears are still ringing from all of the chainsaw noise from the past few weeks, how about you? With more of it on the way as I continue to clean up the mess in my yard, I’ve been able to reflect on a few things. First, I’m thankful that I didn’t get hit nearly as bad as so many others. My heart goes out to all that suffered greater losses at the hands of the storm that ripped through our corner of the world. We will recover, but I doubt that any of us will ever forget.

Most of us are used to hearing through various media sources of catastrophes in places far away and think, “What a shame for those people”. Well, now that we’ve had a taste of what Mother Nature can deliver, some of us in the emergency services are focusing on the experience and how we can learn from it to better serve the public.

As the storm hit and things unfolded, it quickly became apparent that sometimes even the helpers need help. That is where we learned the value of all of that training and preparedness. The many hours of repetition and practice made it possible for the training to kick in automatically. Part of that training is to activate the different agencies needed to respond for assistance in a timely fashion without panic.

Yes, there was a little confusion to start, but that can happen when certain lines of communication get interrupted. The cool heads and calm demeanor of those in charge made a quick and effective response possible. In an age where we expect instant action, I believe the agencies all did a great job.

One of the organizations that sprung into action immediately and offered assistance was the American Red Cross. They brought in truckloads of supplies for those in need and distributed them without hesitation.

I had the opportunity to work closely with them for a while and I got a bit of an education on the Red Cross from Carol Rabineau, one of their Disaster Program Managers. Carol represents the Northern Michigan Chapter of the American Red Cross, so I asked her a few questions on their operation.

Like many folks, I associate the Red Cross with blood drives, but Carol informed me that one of their primary functions is disaster services. Services they certainly provided to us when needed. The Red Cross also provides much needed education and training programs such as CPR and emergency preparedness to schools, businesses and other organizations. They also provide specialized help to our military personnel.

I can tell you from personal experience, when family tragedy hit, my son, a military man a half a world away, was brought home immediately by the Red Cross. All of this is absolutely amazing when you consider that the Red Cross is not a government organization. They operate out of the goodness of volunteers and through the financial donations of individuals and groups. Quite an accomplishment wouldn’t you say?

I could go on and on, but why not go to: www.redcross.org and find out more of what they do. Or better yet, find out how you can help.

Just another example of yet another emergency service working to keep you safe. From all of us to all of you, stay safe!

Ken Elmore,

Markey Township firefighter