A simulated tropical storm will put local Red Cross volunteers to the test today in Jasper County.
During an emergency readiness drill in Ridgeland, about 60 volunteers from Beaufort, Jasper and Hampton counties will be evaluated on their ability to aid those fleeing a storm set to strike the Charleston area. Some volunteers also will double as evacuees, according to organizers.
From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., the volunteers will be asked to open and close a shelter at the former Jasper County High School, interact with those seeking refuge at the shelter and perform other functions necessary in the event of a storm, said Carl Statham, disaster services coordinator for the Lowcountry Chapter of the American Red Cross.
Statham said the Red Cross typically stages about two drills a year to test its volunteers.
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"We want to make sure we're well-suited to respond when that time does come," Statham said. "We're looking for areas of improvement and trying to find out where our soft spots are so we can incorporate that into our training."
Volunteers in Jasper County will coordinate with volunteers at Goose Creek High School near Charleston, where a similar exercise is being staged Saturday, according to Red Cross officials.
The drill will not include participation by area law enforcement or public safety agencies, though the Red Cross does participate in similar drills with those departments throughout the year, Statham said.
"This is just a Red Cross thing," Statham said. "We're really just trying to sharpen our skills."
For more information on the Lowcountry Chapter of the American Red Cross, click here.