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Preparing for Disasters in Colombia

Editor’s note: Jenelle Eli is on the international communications team at the American Red Cross. She and her team will be blogging from Colombia for the next few weeks. 

Today I met Daniel—the guy who knows exactly what do if an earthquake strikes. And I watched Manuela, a Red Cross volunteer for more than five years, lead kids to an evacuation point outside of school. Yesterday, it was Judy whose first aid skills knocked my socks off.

This week, my team’s traveling around the Colombia. We’re checking out the work of the Red Cross, talking with community members, and instagramming our way across the South American country.

Throughout Colombia, kids and adults are taking proactive steps to prepare their families, schools, and neighborhoods for disasters. They don’t want to wait until a volcano erupts to figure out their family emergency plans. Instead, they’re creating early warning systems, learning how to extinguish fires, and practicing evacuation drills in preparation for future emergencies. The American Red Cross and the Colombian Red Cross work together to equip communities with the skills and tools they need to make it all happen.

Judy—a 15 year old in the foothills of the Andes—is ready to treat wounds and save lives. Trained by the Red Cross, Judy and other volunteers take part in disaster simulations so they can practice their skills. Yesterday, we watched as the entire community responded to a simulated car accident. One woman grabbed a megaphone. One, the fire extinguisher. Judy and others ran up the hill with their first aid kits.

Neighbors helped one another to bandage wounds and move the “accident victims” with neck injuries. Red Cross staff mentored Judy as she made a sling for an injured arm and when it was all over, they offered advice about the community members’ response to the simulated emergency. People listened intently—determined to be prepared for any disaster that may strike their neighborhood in the future.

We’re visiting communities like Judy’s all week. Be sure to check out our Instagram feed as we feature some seriously brave volunteers in Colombia.

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