Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Through the Eyes of DAT: Disaster Action Team

Dale City Apartment Fire, February 9, 2015

Written by: Sara Cook, Red Cross DAT Volunteer

At 10:25pm the American Red Cross in the National Capital Region Disaster Action Team (DAT) responded to an apartment fire on Boxwood Drive in Dale City, VA.

The first task for the five DAT Responders, as always, is to touch base with the Fire Department. Afterwards they reached out to four families, a total of 15 people scattered around the immediate area waiting in their cars to keep warm in the frigid and rainy night. DAT immediately offered blankets and tried to secure a warm meeting area to begin the process of getting them all a place to settle in for the night. DAT also provided Comfort Kits to all of the victims of the fire, which include a toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, tissues, soap, and other daily essentials.

It was a very long and cold night for all of the responders and residents. When the Building Inspector finished his review of the building, he allowed the unaffected residents to remain in their homes. Two other families were provided with a local hotel room for 3 nights. All of the effected individuals were provided with emergency funds for food and immediate clothing needs.

With all of the residents’ immediate needs met, DAT departed the scene at 1:30am. The next day, a follow-up team met with the family that was unable to have a household representative present at the time of the fire, which gave the DAT team an opportunity to see one of the other families from the night before. It isn’t often that DAT Responders get a chance to see their clients a second time. They had three generations of boys at the apartment working together to retrieve the contents of the house and take them to storage. They were all in very good spirits saying, “We’re just blessed that no one was hurt.” After catching up on recovery plans and talking about what to do with soaked mattresses (throw them out, they don’t dry), DAT left them to get reorganized and move on from the fire.

Every 8 minutes, the American Red Cross responds to a home fire or other emergency. You don't have to be a DAT team member to help home fire victims in your community. #GiveWhatFireTakes to install smoke detectors, provide clothes, or financial assistance.

See more of Sara Cook’s photos.

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