Disaster summit draws record attendance

Janice Wilson, an EDS volunteer, is assisted by a member of FEMA in learning about the effects of flooding and mitigation through various virtual reality scenarios.

by Nicholas White

The Midland Division welcomed a record 150 delegates this spring to its Emergency Disaster Services (EDS) Summit that provided advanced training and honored volunteers. Salvation Army officers, staff, volunteers and students from several divisions participated in the event at Camp Mihaska in Bourbon, Mo.

Sixteen classes covered topics like tornado awareness, disaster food services and canteen operations, spiritual and emotional care, disaster shelter operations, logistics, specific roles such as safety officer, and SATERN (Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network).

“The last nine years I’ve been the director of disaster services, this is the largest group we’ve ever had here,” said Martin Rueter, Midland divisional EDS director. “We’re very excited about that.”

According to Martin, tornado preparedness, specifically, generates a lot of interest at the summit owing to the division’s location in an area of the country known for these storms.

Kevin Ellers, territorial disaster services coordinator

“What we’re doing here is we’re equipping the Midland Division to more effectively save lives, preserve property and stabilize communities,” said Captain Vinal Lee, who taught the public information officer course. “I believe so passionately that The Salvation Army has a story that needs to be shared, and I want to have really effective communicators to share that story. Especially in times of disaster, people’s livelihoods are on the line.”

Awards were presented and volunteer group achievements were recognized at a banquet. Certificates of excellence were presented to individuals who had studied a noteworthy number of hours of disaster classes, including those through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency, The Salvation Army, American Radio Relay League, and International Critical Incident Stress Foundation.

The Midland EDS Summit Planning Committee (l to r) Adam Menne, divisional board member and EDS Advisory Committee chair; Dana Porter and Sherida Miller, divisional support staff; and Gretchen Luke, EDS Advisory Committee member) are recognized by Lt. Colonel Bob Webster, Midland divisional commander.

Christina Miller took top honors with a gold certificate for 76 hours of classes. Three silver certificates went to Donald Durbin (48 hours), Ralph Brigman (52 hours) and Nathan Hicks (56 hours). Eight bronze certificates went to Steven Kreeger, Jr. (28 hours), Gretchen Luke (32 hours), Steven Kreeger, Sr. (36 hours), Thomas Zeller (36 hours), Albert Franke (37 hours), Zachary Downs (28 hours), Jennifer Kalishevich (28 hours) and Larry Miller (32 hours).

Red Shield first responders (EDS members first on the scene) were recognized for their contributions to combating the COVID-19 pandemic and providing support at two primary locations of Salvation Army presence after last December’s deadly tornadoes.

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