This week we will be featuring a few of our dedicated Home Fire Preparedness volunteers going above and beyond to make this community a safer place.
Between his roles as disaster responder and team lead and #GetAlarmedNYC driver, Antwan volunteers for the Red Cross six days a week.
“I never wanted to leave the Red Cross, once I got in,” he said. “The family here is very welcoming.”
Antwan’s experience providing assistance after home fires inspired him to get involved with #GetAlarmedNYC. #GetAlarmedNYC is a Red Cross initiative in partnership with the FDNY, the FDNY Foundation, the Mayor's Office and NY City Council which offers free fire safety education and free 10-year smoke and carbon monoxide detector installations. Its mission is to reduce injuries and deaths as a result of home fires. With as little as two minutes to safely escape a burning home, smoke alarms are critical to alerting people to a fire so that they have time to get out.
“We basically try to keep the fires down,” Antwan says, “and educate families, relatives, and all the people affected by the fire. We try to prevent this from happening to anybody else.”
One home fire response in particular stands out for Antwan.
“The family was downstairs in the lobby area, the son and the mother, and the hallway was flooded full of water. By the time we got to the residents’ apartment, the whole place was destroyed. They had pets under the rubble that had died. Just seeing the devastation of everything they had lost, and how it affected them…it just made my heart bleed.”
“You know what it’s like to go through all these fires, and every scenario is different…but you know what they’re going through. And it’s very compelling to know that [Red Cross] is here.”
As a former marine and student at Metropolitan College of New York’s emergency management program, Travis came to the Red Cross ready to work.
“I wanted to learn as much as I could learn. I always challenge myself to see how far I could go,” he says. “One of my classmates and I had a long weekend, and wanted to see how many of the [Red Cross online] classes we could do. She did 27 in four days, I did 29. It’s always like a challenge to us.”
Travis currently works as a team lead for #GetAlarmedNYC, and through his university, is on a Brooklyn Disaster Action Team (DAT).
“I also did the New Years’ Eve celebration,” he added. “It was an experience I’ll never forget. It was fun working with the first responders, making sure they were taken care of. I was the Mass Care Lead for the morning shift, and I stayed on until the ball dropped.”
Travis says, what keeps him coming back is the inspiration the work gives him.
“With everything that’s going on in the world right now, all you hear about is the negative. You never really hear that much about the positive things that are going on. When you come and actually experience it, it gives you some glimmer of hope.”
Travis says the hours and the commitment are worth it to him.
“I brought my kids so they see what I do. It’s a sacrifice now but it pays off later on.”