A Day–or Two–in the Life of a DAT Member


By Heath Wakelee

On Monday, August 15, the phone rang while I was giving a disaster preparedness talk at the Marriott Hotel in Rancho Cordova. Ten minutes later, I looked at the phone and saw a Disaster Assistance Team (DAT) response request. Three adults needed help. I called Teresa Cameron to see if she would find someone to go on the call.  She volunteered to go herself. Yeah, Teresa!

I left Rancho Cordova, picked up Teresa in Roseville and we raced up to Auburn to find none of the three occupants of the single-family home at the scene.  One of the occupants was driving up to Nevada County, so we called Disaster Program Manager (DPM) Tami Martin.  Tami then called and asked Ned Russell from our Northeast Chapter to assist the client.  Thankfully, Ned agreed.  We left Red Cross contact information at the fire location.

That night I went to sleep at 9:30 because my alarm was set to go off at 4:00 A.M. so I could help out at the Channel 13/31 telethon for flood and fire victims. I wasn’t asleep for long. The phone rang at 1:30 A.M. with another fire call in Auburn: seven adults and two children.  I called Beryl Mayne and she said she could respond.  Others were hard to come by, but Herman Buckley in Roseville agreed to go.

I checked my phone again.  Another DAT call.

This one was for one adult in Roseville, so at 1:45 A.M., I called Teresa—again.  She is great!  She said she could respond, so I turned the Roseville call over to her.  Teresa called Arry Murphy and the two headed off to eventually find two adults with one child needing assistance. (Very frequently the head count is different from what we are initially told and often the address is close, but not 100% accurate.  We deal with the situation we find when we get there.)

Into the car. I headed for the Red Cross office in Auburn, where Beryl, Herman and I planned to meet.  Our call was in a remote part of Auburn and we finally arrived at about 2:45 A.M.  We ended up with three family units all needing assistance.  At 4:00 A.M. we headed to the Auburn office to get WiFi reception so we could activate their Client Assistance Cards (CACs).  Finally finished, we called the clients to inform them that their CACs had been activated and told them what their case numbers were.

Teresa and Arry did a great job on their call in Roseville. Now I could try to be a perky person and answer phones in West Sacramento. I arrived at the telethon at about 6:15 A.M. and had a good, positive experience.  That is, until around 1 P.M. when my head was hurting from hitting the table (not really, but I was tired). Janelle Weiner (our temporary Lilly Wyatt, Communications Director) asked if I would like to come back at 5 P.M. for a TV interview and I politely declined.

I headed home to do the DCSOPS reports and finally napped at 4:00 P.M.

Placer DAT had three DAT calls in 12 hours—a record for Placer County.  We did it and could have handled another call or two.  Placer DAT rocks!  Thanks again to Teresa, Arry, Beryl, Herman and Ned.

Many Regions, One Purpose

Sand Fire – July 2016

A resourceful development officer and some swift correspondence across regional Red Cross lines has helped launch the recovery relief process for a Southern California firefighter whose home was destroyed in the Sand Fire.


Holding HandsOccupied with the demands of fighting the blaze, which to date has consumed over 40,000 acres and 18 structures, the firefighter was not able to tap into Red Cross services after he learned of his lost home. He had secured a temporary place to stay, but his departure date from that location was rapidly approaching.

That’s when his childhood friend Laurie Gallo stepped in. Gallo called Kristen Kirkpatrick, Chief Development Officer for the Gold Country Region, with the news of her friend’s unfortunate loss. Knowing the firefighter and his family could need long-term recovery assistance, Kirkpatrick immediately reached out to Los Angeles Region colleague, Davi Weber.

Weber soon zipped a message back to Gold Country that Disaster Case Manager Alex Rose would work to contact the firefighter and open a case file for him right away. With a case established, the firefighter can receive immediate assistance as well as help developing a long-term recovery plan.

Working as one Red Cross, Gold Country and Los Angeles came together to provide essential, timely services for a first responder who put others’ needs before his own. The Red Cross Los Angeles Region has provided shelter, meals, snacks and comfort items to hundreds of evacuees since the Sand Fire began.

To see more photos of the American Red Cross Sand Fire response,  please visit here.