COLORADO SPRINGS — Volunteers and first responders from southern Colorado have deployed to Texas and Louisiana in response to Hurricane Laura.
“The number of responders has decreased because of COVID-19, it means a lot more work in addition to the training we all go,” said American Red Cross volunteer James Boardman.
Twenty-three volunteers from the Colorado and Wyoming Region of the American Red Cross are supporting relief efforts. Boardman is from Colorado Springs and forms part of the Strike Team, a team that has trained extensively to provide help during COVID-19.
“All of our training was virtual, little hands-on, and this was the first time we get hands-on experience with the pandemic going on,” said Boardman.
The volunteers left Colorado on Wednesday and will be deployed for two weeks, with 12 hour days ahead.
Boardman said, “We have no idea what we are going to see; we are going into the unknown right now.”
Firefighters across Colorado are also providing aid, including six Colorado Springs Firefighters who form part of Colorado Task Force One.
“Given the weather and the humidity and full gear and wearing masks and performing rescues, it’s a challenge,” said Lt. Aaron McConnellogue with the Colorado Springs Fire Department.
Just like the Red Cross, their training was also virtual.
“There’s only so much you can learn by watching videos and interactions by zoom, and it definitely creates some challenges,” said McConnellogue.
As they are giving back, they also have to keep in mind their own well-being.
“Some they may be in areas will be hotbeds as far as COVID, but they know they have a job and we are just trying to keep them safe,” added McConnellogue.
Crews are expected to quarantine once their deployment is over.