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Union Wide Disaster Response Training a Success
By Frank Bondurant
More than 100 participants from seven conferences gathered at Tranquil Valley Retreat Center in Andover, N.J., for Disaster Response training. The event was planned by local Columbia Union disaster response conference coordinators in order to ignite interest in this ministry, and to train a core group of volunteers who would be prepared and equipped to respond to disasters both big and small in their local communities. Participants received in-depth training in personal and family disaster preparedness, how to operate donation centers, warehouse management, forklift operation and crisis care counseling.
According to Claudia Ramirez, New Jersey Conference’s disaster coordinator and chairperson of the event’s planning committee, there were two features that made the weekend unique among disaster training events offered throughout the NAD. Mark Hann, the Chesapeake Conference assistant disaster response coordinator, first led the “hands-on experience” activity Sabbath afternoon. “In this exercise, attendees were able to apply the training and instruction they had received by setting up a mock donations center using props,” Ramirez explains. “Each person was given a role to play and had to react to staged scenarios.” The second unique feature was the food service training where class attendees learned from Kitty Juneau, Chesapeake’s disaster response coordinator, and Tim Betcher, a professional chef, about how to set up and operate a food service trailer to feed victims of a local disaster.
Several special guest presenters for the event included Robert Ward, a Maryland state Emergency Management Association representative, and Karen Sank from the office of Emergency Management for Anne Arundel County, Maryland. Two New Jersey state police officers, Lt. Joe Galeta and Sgt. 1st Class JoAnn Harrison from the Emergency Operations Management division, presented a check toward the cost of the New Jersey Conference disaster response trailer.
In addition to the many hours of training, participants were also blessed by the devotionals by Pastor Roy Nelson, who also serves as the disaster response coordinator for the Ohio Conference. Pastor Nelson dressed in costume and presented the story of the Good Samaritan in first-person narrative. On Saturday evening, everyone joined in a time of live music, games and an ice cream social.
After another full day of classes concluded on Sunday, participants loaded up their cars and returned to their homes, a bit weary but very thankful for this first-of-its-kind, union-wide training.