Iimagine starting a business in two days and changing staff every two to three weeks.
This is the norm at the American Red Cross when responding to disasters.
With 90 percent of the organization’s workforce made up of volunteers, the Red Cross not only depends on them to help shelter, feed and provide other essential services, but it also depends on a management team to coordinate them.
This is the work of Doug Patriquin of Ahwatukee, a volunteer member of this leadership team. As deputy director of planning and information, Patriquin was recently assigned to the Missouri / Arkansas disaster relief operation shortly after the deadly tornadoes last month.
Patriquin said he was often asked what it was like to be assigned to this role. “It’s like you’re going to start a new business, a business potentially of 100 to 600 people, and you have a group of trained people – some may have worked together before, some may not have worked together – and you ‘let’s bring them together to achieve a common mission.
The only difference, Patriquin said, is that it is essential that this “business” be up and running at full capacity within a day or two.
âAnd you’re going to run as fast as possible to set up this service delivery,â Patriquin explained. âAnd then, almost as quickly, when the needs of the clients have been met, you go through the backward process where it comes down to the operational presence of the Red Cross in that particular area. It really is a team effort to get everyone to work together.
During his career, Patriquin started businesses that usually took three
or four months to be operational.
âIt’s a whole new level of intensity to take in trained people who have never worked together before,â he said, adding that employees are working side by side with volunteers.
âAt the Red Cross, on disaster response, employees can end up working for volunteers and vice versa. It’s homogeneous … It’s a difference at the Red Cross. It is a semi-unique characteristic.
“And the other thing is you hope in most businesses that you wouldn’t turn over your staff every two to three weeks, which is typical of a disaster relief operation.”
The organization of Red Cross disaster response is very similar to how the incident command structure is put in place by public safety organizations, such as fire departments and management agencies. emergencies, according to Patriquin.
âYou have what we call a post manager who is in charge of the response and the main members of his staff are called deputy directors for various functions,â Patriquin said.
âWithin the Planning and Information function, we do several things. We provide the primary and formal communications that manage the disaster relief operation. As part of that, we have a damage assessment that allows people in the field to look at the damage and make sure that we are recording the types and levels of damage that help customers get support.
âWe also have a mapping system – what’s called global information systems – that produces the maps and aids needed to help decision-makers and people on the ground do their jobs and locate information. ”
There are also functions for finance; operations for client care, case processing and recovery; personnel organization and logistics.
âWhen you see the Red Cross distributing material to customers, logistics had to collect this material from a large warehouse and route it to the relief operation so that it could be distributed,â Patriquin explained. “There are also external relations which deal with elected officials, government and public information.”
Prior to retiring, Patriquin worked for Goodrich Corporation in a variety of roles including technical engineering, engineering management and general management.
âWhen I retired I looked for something that was going to be an opportunity to contribute to a worthy cause,â Patriquin said. âThe Red Cross – especially with all the different opportunities available – needs people to work in shelters, people to distribute food, but also people who work and run warehouses, people who run businesses. global logistics.
âBehind the scenes, we have a workforce component, the people who get the people to do the job, which is the most important part, and mobilize them from across the country to the job sites.â
For anyone nearing retirement and considering volunteering with the Red Cross, Patriquin recommends registering now to start discovering the vision and mission of the Red Cross and get the required training.
âIt takes time to orient yourself towards the Red Cross,â said Patriquin, who has volunteered for eight years. âIf I had known this in advance, I probably would have joined the Red Cross three or four years earlier to acclimatize and train myself.
âThere is probably a role within the Red Cross that would suit most people who want to contribute to the mission of relieving human suffering in the face of emergencies.
To become a Red Cross volunteer, visit redcross.org/volunteer