The tools of Brock Jenkins’ trade lay on the table in front of him. A glove. A pair of shears. A handbook. A few simple medical objects, his training and experience – and his heart – equipped him to serve as a paramedic with the American Red Cross at the George R. Convention Center in Houston.
Brock, two nurses and an emergency medical technician covered the night shift for one of the pods at the convention center. Brock called it “community medicine.” They did medical assessments of shelter residents who came or were referred to them. With an on-site pharmacy available, they were able to ensure that their patients could get the medications they had lost during Hurricane Harvey. Most of the treatment was for chronic or routine ailments, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
It’s all about establishing rapport, Brock says. He often chatted casually with people and as a result of these conversations, later learned about medical issues he was able to help treat.
On one occasion, the Red Cross team was working with a family who spoke a Ugandan dialect. In casual conversation, Brock had met someone else who spoke a Ugandan dialect that turned out to be similar enough to allow medical information to be communicated.
“If you make yourself approachable, people will approach,” Brock says.
Brock is one of the many Red Cross medical, mental health, and spiritual care volunteers who deployed to areas affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Their professional credentials are vital to the service they are providing. In addition to their specialized training, they received Red Cross disaster services training that equips them to function professionally during disaster large and small. These volunteers support the less visible aspects of disaster recovery, knowing that human beings are resilient and will go on to rebuild their lives.
“I’m glad I went because as much as I impacted the people, they impacted me more,” Brock says. The experience had made him a better paramedic, more confident in his professional judgment.
Brock Jenkins is just one of more than 170 Red Cross staff from Ohio who have dropped their everyday lives to be part of the humanitarian mission of the Red Cross. Red Cross volunteers are staffing shelters, driving food, water and cleaning supplies into affected neighborhoods, and helping people develop recovery plans. Others are doing psychological and spiritual assessments, providing care tailored specifically to people who have lived through a large-scale disaster.
The headlines change, but the Red Cross is in Texas and Florida, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico – all of the areas affected by Harvey and Irma and Maria – for the long haul. Until the water has receded, debris is cleared and homes rebuilt, the white trucks with the large Red Cross logo painted on their sides will deliver volunteers and meals, water and food and hope.
To be a part of the solution to disasters large and small as a donor, visit https://www.redcross.org/donate/donation.You may designate your donation for people affected by one or all three of the recent hurricanes.