Attorney General Hardy Myers today announced that Oregon will be sending a specialized Crisis Response Team (CRT) to aid in the relief and recovery of the tens of thousands of Floridians victimized by Hurricanes Charley and Frances. Working with the National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA), the Oregon Department of Justice Crime Victims' Assistance Section identified a team of ten specially-trained advocates from around the state. The team from Oregon left Sunday and will join other five to ten member teams from Arkansas, Georgia, Missouri, New Jersey, and Ohio. These CRTs will supplement the hundreds of Floridians trained in crisis response who are by now overextended.
The teams are being deployed from their Orlando arrival point to many sites in central Florida. The assignments are being made by Florida Crisis Response Team, Inc., and its Coordinator, Cheryl Ricciardi, who works for Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist.
NOVA also is working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to locate from its thousands of trained responders those who could offer short-term service to that Federal agency. Those assignments will be made in accordance with FEMA's protocols.
At mass crime scenes and terrorist attacks, CRT members typically provide "emotional first aid" to those most traumatized by the event - victims, survivors, first responders, and witnesses. The CRT's second major mission is to provide three-hour training for the caregivers of the affected community, such as clergy members and mental health professionals, who may themselves be in a state-of-shock and may not have a background in providing effective comfort to people in crisis.
The CRT's mission in Florida and at other sites of natural disaster is similar but adapted to the immediate circumstances. They may serve in a "companion" role as victims sign up for one disaster service after another. They may themselves work beside FEMA staff members distributing relief applications, or Red Cross shelter volunteers providing respite for the dispossessed, or volunteers operating feeding stations.
Thousands of Floridians were dramatically affected by the hurricanes and for many; the crisis takes a terrible emotional toll. CRT members are trained in crisis intervention and help to diffuse the high levels of stress and educate and assist victims.
NOVA volunteers, who sign up with FEMA, will have their expenses covered. Not so for the scores, perhaps hundreds of others, who sign up. Donations are urgently sought to cover their travel and daily expenses at the NOVA Website: www.trynova.org.
CRISIS TEAM MEMBERS:
Tim Brueckner - Team Leader
Pastor, Bethany Lutheran Church
Mary Blankenship - Team Manager
Oregon Department of Human Services, Child Welfare
Pastor, Faith Baptist Church
Chaplain, Metro Police Chaplaincy
Director, Hood River County Victim Assistance
Hood River County
Nursing Supervisor, Willamette Falls Hospital
Windermere Real Estate, St. Helens
Director, Curry County Victim Assistance Program
Chaplain, Gresham Fire Department
Engineer/Paramedic, Hood River Fire Department
Hood River County