The American Red Cross of Alaska hosts a Southeast Disaster Academy at their Juneau office on Friday, Nov. 16, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

The American Red Cross of Alaska hosts a Southeast Disaster Academy at their Juneau office on Friday, Nov. 16, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Red Cross training prepares, unites Southeast volunteers

Organizers hope to pass knowledge to communities around region

When Pam Roth sees footage of natural disasters on television, she can’t help but want to get involved.

“You can’t look at the pictures of the fires and the burnt-out cars and not want to do something,” Roth said. “You just can’t do it.”

Roth, the community volunteer coordinator for the American Red Cross in Ketchikan, was in Juneau this weekend to attend the Southeast Disaster Academy. The three-day training event was for people of all experience levels, looking to prepare and unite volunteers from across the region.

Southeast Disaster Program Manager Andrew Bogar said training that’s this comprehensive usually takes place in Anchorage, meaning that not many people from Southeast can go. Bogar and other Red Cross leaders around the state worked to get events like this set up all around the state instead of just in the central hub.

“There is an Alaska outside of Anchorage,” Roth said. “And to Andrew’s credit, there is a Southeast outside of Juneau.”

Friday’s class was for people such as Roth who have a decent amount of experience with the organization. Roth was deployed to Virginia and North Carolina this summer to help with Red Cross operations in the wake of Hurricane Florence. Friday’s class was aimed at preparing these experienced volunteers to coordinate and delegate to less-experienced volunteers in disaster scenarios.

There were people from Ketchikan, Haines and Sitka there Friday, and Bogar said there are also Red Cross volunteers on Prince of Wales Island and in Petersburg. Even a few hours into the training, Roth found it valuable.

“Largely, what I’m really happy about is getting to know my fellow co-workers, my fellow volunteers from Southeast,” Roth said. “It’s kind of interesting, in Alaska in general, geographically we’re so huge and you hear about these people and you might even talk with them on a teleconference, but you just don’t get to put the faces to it.”

Preparedness and Case Work Specialist Bridget Thomson coordinates preparedness exercises around Southeast, helping people prepare and plan for a disaster. She said it’s important to be able to get people this training so they can go out and tell their friends and family.

“It’s kind of like a huge ripple effect,” Thomson said. “When you have five people that know more about being prepared, they in turn can teach five more people about building a preparedness kit or just having their families be prepared for whatever that may be.”

Bogar and Thomson both said it’s particularly challenging to respond to a disaster in Southeast communities due to how isolated they all are. As Thomson pointed out, it’s not like other cities down the road will send extra ambulances to Juneau in an emergency. People in Juneau will have to address their needs with what’s already here.

Thomson said these volunteers can go back to their communities, spread the word and make clear to people how important it is to have supplies set aside and a plan in mind.

“It doesn’t need to be this taboo thing. Like, ‘Oh, you have a preparedness kit? What are you preparing for? Doomsday?’ It’s not that. It’s really simple stuff that anybody can do,” Thomson said.


• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or amccarthy@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.


Pam Roth, a community volunteer leader of The American Red Cross in Ketchikan, talks about attending a Southeast Disaster Academy on Friday, Nov. 16, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Pam Roth, a community volunteer leader of The American Red Cross in Ketchikan, talks about attending a Southeast Disaster Academy on Friday, Nov. 16, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Maria Caruso leads a class as The American Red Cross of Alaska hosts a Southeast Disaster Academy at their Juneau office on Friday, Nov. 16, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Maria Caruso leads a class as The American Red Cross of Alaska hosts a Southeast Disaster Academy at their Juneau office on Friday, Nov. 16, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

More in Home

Rep. Sara Hannan (right) offers an overview of this year’s legislative session to date as Rep. Andi Story and Sen. Jesse Kiehl listen during a town hall by Juneau’s delegation on Thursday evening at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Multitude of education issues, budget, PFD among top areas of focus at legislative town hall

Juneau’s three Democratic lawmakers reassert support of more school funding, ensuring LGBTQ+ rights.

Allison Gornik plays the lead role of Alice during a rehearsal Saturday of Juneau Dance Theatre’s production of “Alice in Wonderland,” which will be staged at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé for three days starting Friday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
An ‘Alice in Wonderland’ that requires quick thinking on and off your feet

Ballet that Juneau Dance Theatre calls its most elaborate production ever opens Friday at JDHS.

Danielle Brubaker shops for homeschool materials at the IDEA Homeschool Curriculum Fair in Anchorage on Thursday. A court ruling struck down the part of Alaska law that allows correspondence school families to receive money for such purchases. (Claire Stremple/Alaska Beacon)
Lawmakers to wait on Alaska Supreme Court as families reel in wake of correspondence ruling

Cash allotments are ‘make or break’ for some families, others plan to limit spending.

A waterfront view of Marine Parking Garage with the windows of the Juneau Public Library visible on the top floor. “Welcome” signs in several languages greet ships on the dock pilings below. (Laurie Craig / For the Juneau Empire)
The story of the Marine Parking Garage: Saved by the library

After surviving lawsuit by Gold Rush-era persona, building is a modern landmark of art and function.

Rosemary Ahtuangaruak, mayor of the Inupiaq village of Nuiqsut, at the area where a road to the Willow project will be built in the North Slope of Alaska, March 23, 2023. The Interior Department said it will not permit construction of a 211-mile road through the park, which a mining company wanted for access to copper deposits. (Erin Schaff/The New York Times)
Biden shields millions of acres of Alaskan wilderness from drilling and mining

The Biden administration expanded federal protections across millions of acres of Alaskan… Continue reading

Caribou cross through Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve in their 2012 spring migration. A 211-mile industrial road that the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority wants to build would pass through Gates of the Arctic and other areas used by the Western Arctic Caribou Herd, one of the largest in North America. Supporters, including many Alaska political leaders, say the road would provide important economic benefits. Opponents say it would have unacceptable effects on the caribou. (Photo by Zak Richter/National Park Service)
Alaska’s U.S. senators say pending decisions on Ambler road and NPR-A are illegal

Expected decisions by Biden administration oppose mining road, support more North Slope protections.

Rep. Sarah Vance, R-Homer, speaks on the floor of the Alaska House of Representatives on Wednesday, March 13. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska House members propose constitutional amendment to allow public money for private schools

After a court ruling that overturned a key part of Alaska’s education… Continue reading

Newly elected tribal leaders are sworn in during the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska’s 89th annual Tribal Assembly on Thursday at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall. (Photo courtesy of the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska)
New council leaders, citizen of year, emerging leader elected at 89th Tribal Assembly

Tlingit and Haida President Chalyee Éesh Richard Peterson elected unopposed to sixth two-year term.

Most Read