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Red Cross holds disaster training session

    If a tornado were to rip through a Bulloch County neighborhood, the Red Cross would be on hand to respond to the disaster, providing food and shelter for people affected.
    However, the organization wants to do more than simply respond to the disaster, it wants to provide the best possible service with the resources it has.
    To do that, Red Cross officials and volunteers held a disaster training session Thursday to discuss as many of the different scenarios they may face in order to provide the best service possible.
    "We're assessing our readiness," said Mary Ball, director of the Bulloch County Red Cross. "There's a difference between being prepared and being ready."
    Ball explained that being prepared means having all the resources necessary, but being ready means having those resources readily available.
    "Can I call 100 volunteers, if I need them, and have them respond?" she said.
    Pat Goodale, chapter solutions manager with the National Red Cross, said the goal of the training was to help the chapter strengthen the program and pinpoint areas they may need to improve upon before a disaster strikes.
    The training, which is part of the national Red Cross requirement, is conducted at least every three years, though Ball said they like to hold them yearly to ensure they're ready to respond.
    Goodale said part of the exercise involves actually calling people that would be asked for assistance in a disaster to see if they would be able to open a shelter right then.
    "They're actually testing their readiness to respond at that particular moment in time," she said.
    David Beaubien, chairman of the board of directors for the Red Cross, said the exercise was beneficial in helping them identify both their strengths and weaknesses.
    "We need to make sure we concentrate on our weaknesses," he said.
    Beaubien said he was pleased with the exercise, saying they had gotten a lot out of it and learned how to better react to a disaster.
    Goodale said she had no doubts that the Bulloch County Chapter would be able to respond to the needs of the people in Bulloch County.
    "They have very good leadership, wonderful volunteers and I think their relationships in the community are amazing. Everything they've needed to bring into the exercise, the community has been able to respond," she said.
    "This is a small chapter with a huge capacity and a huge heart," she said. "They are very dedicated."

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