Davis & Elkins College is offering a new and unique organization to its students this year.
"D&E Responders came from an idea of President Buck Smith, that a contingency of students have the opportunity to help respond to the needs of the Elkins community," said Melody Loudin, community service liaison and advisor to D&E Responders. "The formation of D&E Responders was the result of that idea."
With the mission of D&E College "to prepare and inspire students for success and for thoughtful engagement in the world," D&E Responders will be a dynamic tool for thoughtful engagement in the world," said Loudin.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Beth Christian Broschart
Davis & Elkins College community service liaison and D&E Responders advisor Melody Loudin discusses with D&E Student Life Dean Scott Goddard the certifications and trainings that group members will be taking. The group will represent the college and Randolph County as a disaster response team.
Members of this group will be certified and trained through the American Red Cross and the Community Emergency Response Team. They will have training in disaster preparedness, triage, first aid, CPR, assisting with cave rescues, disaster simulation, mock drills, treating life-threatening conditions, establishing treatment areas, assisting with search and rescue, setting up emergency shelters and working with survivor trauma.
"Students will be on call to help with local disasters within Randolph and surrounding counties on behalf of the American Red Cross and be a part of the area's Disaster Action Team," said Loudin. "This might mean helping set up shelters, working with food banks, serving meals, assisting with the Office of Emergency Services, taking part in appropriate search and rescue or providing requested support from first responders."
According to Loudin, one of the advantages of D&E Responders is that having a large trained team in the area will eliminate the wait time for the Red Cross to provide immediate on-site support.
Another way the group plans to help the community is by setting up a stock pile of items needed during a disaster. Among these are food, water, toys, clothing and cleaning supplies.
"If a family has just lost their home to fire, lots of times all they have are the clothes on their backs," said Loudin. "If we can be there for them and provide not only moral support, but some needed items, it will help transition them through this disaster."
Courtney Cooper, a Mill Creek native and senior majoring in physical education and health, has the interests of her community at heart.
"I joined the D&E Responders because I wanted to give back to my community by working with others my own age," said Cooper. "There are lots of opportunities to help people from abroad, but I wanted my focus to be on those closer to home."
Loudin said the group offers a chance to be an integral part of the communities surrounding D&E.
"You will learn valuable critical thinking skills," said Loudin. "This will look wonderful on a resume and show employers what you have to offer as a potential employee and a valuable member of society."
Susan Krakoff, a junior at D&E studying English, shares Cooper's desire to help others in this area.
"So many times you do not hear of a disaster, such as a fire, until weeks after it is over, and it is hard to know how to help someone then," said Krakoff. "Being a member of this group will give me the opportunity to help out when help is needed."
D&E Dean of Students, Scott Goddard, sees the program as a help to not only victims of disaster, but to those who respond to them.
"So often it seems the Elkins community struggles with whom they should contact when a need arises," said Goddard. "This will give them a starting point for someone to call on for help and help bridge the gap between the community and the college."
Another aspect of the D&E Responders is helping with community service for non-disasters.
"There are approximately 22 service organizations within the community who are in need of helping hands," said Loudin. "Students can also help out by donating their time and skills to these groups with services that need provided. Another thing we want to assure that time students volunteer is used for meaningful work," said Loudin.
Once the college knows how many students will be involved, they can begin training and getting ready to respond to needs.
"The National Red Cross is very interested in the D&E Responders," said Loudin. "The success of our pilot program could lead to this type of group being offered nationwide at other colleges."