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With an Increase in Calls to Fires, Minnesota Red Cross Seeking More Volunteers

December 09, 2018 04:59 PM

(KSTP) -- When a house or apartment fire breaks out, the first call by first responders is typical to the Red Cross, who will dispatch volunteers to the scene to help victims.

However, with a growing number of disaster response requests, Minnesota's local chapter said it needs more people to help keep up with the pace.

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"In the wintertime, we do see an increase in home fires," said senior recruitment specialist, Lizzie Gelderman. "The Red Cross also responds to about one disaster a day, so we have a high need for volunteers to help out with that."

Gelderman said the highest need is for volunteers on the disaster response team. These are individuals who are called on in a moment's notice to respond to help in the aftermath of home or apartment fires.

That team has been busy this December, Gelderman said. The Red Cross helped 15 people who were displaced after an apartment building caught fire in St. Paul early Friday morning. A week earlier, a fire forced 22 families from their apartments in Apple Valley.

Throughout the month, Gelderman said the Red Cross will be hosting "Call to Serve" informational sessions to try and boost recruitment before the holidays.

Michael Convery began volunteering with the disaster response team a year ago. He's been to dozens of fires and even traveled out of the state.

"It's a very good opportunity to support your neighbors," Convery said.

Convery helped in the aftermath of the St. Paul fire. He said a group of Red Cross volunteers set up shop at the rec center down the street to help reach people who had scattered when the fire started.

"Throughout the course of the day yesterday, residents came in and we met with them to figure out what their needs are," Convery said. "Our role is to triage what their immediate needs are."

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