More volunteers needed for Red Cross Disaster Action Teams

The American Red Cross is hoping more people will sign up to become a Disaster Action Team member.
Published: Feb. 6, 2023 at 6:27 PM CST
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KEARNEY, Neb. (KSNB) - The American Red Cross is hoping more people will sign up to become a Disaster Action Team member.

The Red Cross responded to house fires in both McCook and Grand Island on Sunday. The volunteers who helped in these responses are part of the Disaster Action Team.

These are the first line of care, comfort and compassion for those affected by a local disaster.

Disaster Program Manager Marion McDermott said in 2022, they responded to more than 600 disasters in Nebraska and Iowa, many of which were home fires.

“It’s very important that we get to our clients as soon as possible,” McDermott said. “Just to provide that hug, that ear, to listen and to ultimately we provide financial assistance as well.”

DAT members distribute relief supplies, provide client assistance for temporary lodging and other disaster-caused needs, and offer some health services, mental health services and spiritual care.

While the lodging, food and supplies are welcomed, the Red Cross says many times it is the comfort and emotional support that DAT members provide that makes the most difference.

McDermott said they currently have around 52 volunteers on the Disaster Action Team, who help cover 54 counties in central and western Nebraska.

“That’s not nearly enough,” she said.

She added in larger communities like Grand Island, Kearney, North Platte or Scottsbluff, they have clusters of volunteers, but there are a lot of areas where they don’t have the people to go if called out.

“We have a lot of areas where we just don’t have the volunteers to respond in person and our goal is to always respond in person,” she said.

As demand for Red Cross services increase, additional volunteers are needed.

The Red Cross is offering a “bootcamp” in Kearney on Saturday, February 25 at the Kearney Red Cross building at 520 West 48th St. The bootcamp is a special disaster training session in which prospective volunteers will complete all of the necessary trainings to become a DAT member.

To register for the bootcamp, contact Marion McDermott at 308-258-1536, or

No previous experience is required. Volunteers will be trained to respond to a scene of a disaster and properly assist those affected. Pre-registration is required.

To learn more about volunteer opportunities and to register as a volunteer, visit