Red Cross volunteer says time is rewarding, encourages others to join upcoming training in Steamboat Springs | SteamboatToday.com

Red Cross volunteer says time is rewarding, encourages others to join upcoming training in Steamboat Springs

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — It only took a few days after Steamboat Springs resident Linda Kakela had finished with the American Red Cross training that she was called into action.

"I finished my training on a Sunday and on Monday, two calls came in," Kakela said.

Kakela and fellow Red Cross volunteer Sarah Cherry were responding to the first call of a gas leak in Stagecoach that required an evacuation, and while they were were driving to that location they got another call to come help with a hotel fire in Craig that had displaced dozens of people. People who had nowhere to go, had lost most of their belongings in the fire. Kakela remembers taking care of the folks at the gas leak first, then traveling to Craig to help again.

"It's extraordinarily satisfying to participate with the Red Cross," Kakela said. "Everywhere you go, you see the Red Cross, or the Red Crescent or the International Red Cross providing services to those in need. It's a way of participating at the local level in something that is 100 years old, and has touched so many lives. It is just very satisfying."

In the nine years since taking the Disaster Actions Team course, Kakela has responded to many local emergencies and been deployed to help with disasters such as Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and major flooding in the Boulder and Longmont areas in 2013.

In both of those cases, she was called in just days after the events unfolded, and stayed until the need for help had been met.

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On April 20, American Red Cross of Western and Southwestern Colorado will hold a DAT course 8 to 11:30 a.m. at Centennial Hall, 124 10th Street. 

"We want to make sure that there is a community awareness that there is a need for more volunteers in some specific areas geographically," Volunteer Services Manager Josh Stewart said.  "Everywhere around Steamboat is one of those areas where we don't quite have the numbers that we ideally would like to have to feel comfortable in knowing that the community is able to take care of itself."

He hopes the Steamboat training will offer people who want to get involved from surrounding counties such as Rio Blanco, Moffat and Grand to take part in the training in Steamboat.

Stewart said those interested in taking part can call 970-242-6646 or email joshua.stewart@redcross.org. He said the best way to contact him is through email, and that he can send step-by-step instructions on how to register for the classes and what is required.

There is no cost to take the classes, but participants may be required to complete some basic online classwork before attending the class.  The Red Cross will also offer Shelter Fundamentals 9 a.m. to noon April 18 at the American Red Cross of Western Colorado Chapter at 506 Gunnison Ave. in Grand Junction.

Kakela said she got involved after her grown daughter encouraged her to join the organization. Her daughter took training classes and got involved when she was living back east. Today, Kakela said it has been one of the most rewarding experiences and she encourages others to sign up and get involved.

"This is what this training, The DAT, starts to prepare you for. Then there are other trainings to carry out the Red Cross mandate of providing mass care — shelter and food — when there are situations of such a scale," Kakela said. "It's a starting point. It's extraordinarily rewarding and it's not a huge time commitment — that is if we are lucky. It's hugely rewarding on whatever level you do it."

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.