The American Red Cross - An International Organization

Posted by Judson L Moore

The American Red Cross was chartered in 1905 by the American Congress to “carry on a system of national and international relief in time of peace and apply the same in mitigating the sufferings caused by pestilence, famine, fire, floods, and other great national calamities, and to devise and carry on measures for preventing the same.”  The American Red Cross plays a substantial role in the United States and the world in assisting victims of disaster (clients), and other agencies involved in disaster situations (firefighters, FEMA, police, etc.)

Here in Louisiana, the Red Cross most recently played a huge role in the relief efforts from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita through financial assistance, providing shelter, medical supplies, and handing out hygiene products, including toothbrushes and soap.  Although the Red Cross has recently gotten so much attention in this area because of their participation after those great storms, there is so much more than they do.  Responding to substantial natural disasters is only a small and geographically concentrated part of the role they play nationwide in Disaster Services.

The Red Cross works with over 70,000 disasters.  Many of these are house and apartment fires.  Whenever a family (or person) is made homeless, either temporarily or indefinitely, the Red Cross can be called in to offer financial assistance to help these people pay for shelter (hotel), get to a relative’s, or purchase some immediate/ short-term necessities like food and clothing.  The Red Cross also replaces any medicines that are lost due to disaster.  So long as the drugs are not in the narcotics class (codeine, morphine, etc.), the Red Cross can have the client’s prescriptions refilled at no cost to the client.  All in all, the American Red Cross’s primary purpose is to assist their clients in fulfilling their immediate needs and finding a sense of normalcy as soon as possible.

The Red Cross takes care of the other disaster relief agencies by providing them with food, medical needs, mental health needs, and shelter if need be.

Although chartered by Congress, The Red Cross is not a government agency.  Instead, one of the Red Cross’s purposes is to be a non-governmental, non-political, non-partisan, and independent organization to be on disaster scenes.  The Red Cross is supported by private donations and controlled on a local level by executive boards, similar to most other non-profit organizations.  At the national level, the general policy is created, and resources are maintained and directed as needed in the occurrence of a large-scale disaster.  When Hurricanes Katrina and Rita came across the Gulf States, the local Red Cross chapters were not responsible for maintaining relief efforts.  Instead, the national office set up a temporary headquarters, regional to the affected area, and controlled resources locally.

The American Red Cross plays a crucial role in implementing disaster relief and resource management and distribution.  With their generous assistance, police can concentrate on maintaining order, firefighters can fight fires, and search and rescue teams can spend their time searching while allowing the Red Cross to treat the wounds and needs of the rescued.

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Judson L Moore

Travel addict. Ambitious about making the world a better place. Writing what I learn along the way.

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