County officials are hoping that local volunteers will take up some of the slack after the decision was announced that Red Cross is pulling back further from this region.
According to Emergency Risk Manager Amy Miller, the change is of concern to the Barton County Local Emergency Planning Committee which is sponsored by Barton County Emergency Management.
The American Red Cross has announced that it is closing a number of offices in this part of the state, Miller reported.
“Darla Hesse, disaster response and planning manager, American Red Cross Midway-Kansas Chapter, explained to the group that 10 chapter offices will be closed in the western part of Kansas as part of the reorganization.”
Barton County is now affiliated with the office out of Hutchinson, Miller reported. “Barton County will now contact American Red Cross personnel in Reno County for services.
“Hesse wanted to emphasize that all services are still available to the citizens of Barton County, and in the event of a disaster, a simple phone call to ARC personnel will still activate their disaster response,” Miller stressed.
The changes were dictated by financial realities, Miller added. “The closing of the local chapter office is due to financial constraints. The American Red Cross has seen a decline in donations during the last several years.
“It appears to be a reflection of the economic times, because other agencies such as the United Way have had a reduction in donations as well,” according to Miller.
In reaction to the change, Miller added, there is a growing need for more local people to get involved — and a growing opportunity for volunteers to get local experience.
“The American Red Cross will be looking to increase the number of volunteers in Barton County. Currently approximately 95 percent of American Red Cross workers are volunteers.
“All of the disaster training is offered free of charge.
“Interested individuals should contact the Reno County Chapter of the American Red Cross at 620-662-3336 for further information on becoming an American Red Cross volunteer,” Miller said.