ENTERPRISE — With fire season fast approaching, the American Red Cross is looking for volunteers in Wallowa County, and with the added challenge of COVID-19, there is an even bigger need for help this year.

“The coronavirus pandemic will make it challenging to deploy trained disaster volunteers from other parts of the country should a large emergency occur in Oregon or southwest Washington,” said Rebecca Marshall, regional disaster officer for the Red Cross Cascades Region. “In light of this, the Red Cross is asking you to be ready to help your community. Train now to be a Red Cross volunteer and answer the call to help if the need arises here in our region.”

Red Cross officials said there is a special need for volunteers to support sheltering efforts. Because of the pandemic, the Red Cross is placing those needing a safe place to stay in emergency hotel lodging when possible. If hotel stays aren’t possible, then the Red Cross will open traditional shelters. To help keep people safe, the Red Cross has instituted additional precautions and developed special training for our workforce.

“We need volunteers to help staff shelter reception, registration, feeding, dormitory, information collection and other vital tasks to help those we serve,” Marshall said. “We have both associate and supervisory level opportunities available.’

The Red Cross is also asking for help from people with medical training, including nurses, paramedics, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and doctors. Volunteers are needed in shelters to help assess people’s health. Daily observation and health screening for COVID-19-like illness among shelter residents may also be required.

“We need volunteers who can provide care as delegated by a licensed nurse in shelters,” Marshall said. “This could include assisting with activities of daily living, personal assistance services, providing health education and helping to replace medications, durable medical equipment or consumable medical supplies.”

People interested in volunteering should review Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance for people who are at higher risk for severe illness, consult with their health care providers and follow local guidance.

For information on Red Cross volunteer opportunities, see redcross.org/volunteertoday.

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