Lona Courington, director of the local service center, said the classes will give the local Salvation Army Disaster Service volunteers the tools they need to better respond in the event of another major disaster in Walker County or anywhere throughout the United States.
“Prior to this class, none of our volunteers had ever had any formal disaster training. Don’t get me wrong, all of our volunteers who responded during the April 2011 tornadoes were wonderful and responded to the best of their ability — given they had no background in disaster training,” Courington said. “But these classes will give them the confidence and knowledge they need to be much more effective as a team, as well as allow them to present the image of the Salvation Army to the community in a better way.”
Courington said moving forward from the April 2011 tornado outbreak, the goal of the Salvation Army’s Walker County Service Center is to have a team of well-trained volunteers who will be ready to respond within a moment’s notice.
“Before, in the event of a major disaster, we only acted as support for other organizations in the area, and we will still do that,” Courington said. “But now we will have a plan as to what our primary function will be in the event of the next one and will have the trained people to facilitate that plan.”
The 17 or so volunteers who participated in Saturday’s training were introduced to the Salvation Army and its emergency disaster services program through courses that contained information about the most common services the group offers during a disaster as well as the history, mission and ministry of the Salvation Army.
Bill Feist, the Disaster Director for the Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi Division of the Salvation Army’s Southern Territory, was one of the instructors at Saturday’s training.
He said he was amazed at the work being done by the staff and volunteers at the Walker County Service Center following the April 2011 tornadoes.
“Through its corps, service centers and service units, the Salvation Army has a presence in almost every county in the United States and I’ve been to a lot of them, especially since the April 2011 tornado outbreak, and I want to thank all the folks here at our Walker County Service Center for the wonderful job they have been doing,” Feist said. “I know they have been working on recovery here and will still be working on recovery for some time to come, and as the disaster director for this area I’m very, very proud of the work these folks are doing.”