By Geena Martinez
MIDLAND - This busy fire season is taking a toll on area firefighters but they're not the only ones being stretched thin. The Red Cross is seeing a shortage of their own.
Whether it's a grassfire in Fort Davis or an accidental mobile home fire like the one Thursday in Midland, the American Red Cross of the Southwest is there to help fire victims get back on their feet.
But now they're needing some help of their own. They need more volunteers.
"Volunteers are the front line for the Red Cross," Emergency Services Director, James Parks, said. "Whenever there is a disaster, volunteers are the first to go in."
Parks said their current volunteers need a breather from responding to so many fires.
"When we set up a shelter, it takes two to three different teams," he said. "They work from 12-14 hour increments."
Right now, the local Red Cross has 120 volunteers but they're looking to more than double that number to better serve their 26 counties.
"It enables us to provide guaranteed shift change for folks that need a break," Parks said.
He also said they've received plenty of calls from those wanting to lend a helping hand.
"When people see a disaster, they feel compelled to help but we can't allow them to do it until they've been properly trained," he said. "Unfortunately it takes time to get them all trained."
But background checks and several areas of training are required before people can help others.
"They do so many things with the Red Cross whether its teaching a first aid, CPR class or responding to a fire or a disaster, opening up a shelter," Parks said. "They do it all."
But Parks is hoping that won't scare potential volunteers, but no matter what, he said the Red Cross will always be there.
"You know when that call comes in we're there to answer that phone," he said. "This is a great opportunity to increase our volunteers and to help people help each other."
If you want to volunteer, the Red Cross is hosting a free training day on July 16th. It will be held at the Atmos Energy Community Room in Midland from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. You can call 432-563-2267 for more information.