By: Mehwish Ahmed

Right here in our Gulf Coast Region, the Corpus Christi chapter hosted its 5th annual Emergency Response Vehicle Road-E-O with over 100 attendees from March 16-21. A devoted Red Cross volunteer, Mr. Larry Paton, organized this event for the first time in 2010 and every year since. It began as a competition for ERV drivers with a custom built obstacle course in the local fairgrounds in order to train Emergency Responders to be able to deal with new and difficult driving situations in a comfortable learning and enjoyably competitive environment. Over the years the event has grown from just an ERV training to include 20-25 Red Cross courses for people across our region. Volunteers and staff come from all across Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and several other states.

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The event has expanded from a few days to a week long disaster response training with many certifications available to the attendees. Carolyn Ross, the disaster program manager for Red Cross in Corpus Christi, was also one of the teachers and organizers of this event. One of the classes she taught was the Red Cross’s well-known and loved CPR/first aid/AED class and she said this class was offered to Red Cross Volunteers for free. These classes that usually have a fee for training were included in this event. After Carolyn Ross’s first ERV Road-E-O, she seemed pretty impressed with the success of the event and recommended that those interested in disaster training should definitely attend in the years to come.

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This event is not only for old Red Cross volunteers. They reach out to other organizations in the area by offering classes, such as the shelter fundamentals class, which was attended by a group from the Salvation Army.

Mr. Paton’s message for all of us is that the ERV Road-E-O is “a great place to get training and meet your coworkers and do a lot of networking. We get to know each other and there’s no pressure of the clients. We work together, train together, eat together, and laugh together. You don’t usually get to do that on the Disaster Relief Operations team.”