Elfer gets award from Red Cross

Published 1:15 pm Monday, April 7, 2014

Warren County Emergency Management Director John Elfer sits Thursday with an award presented to him by the American Red Cross in the Emergency Operations Center where he works in the Warren County Courthouse basement.

Warren County Emergency Management Director John Elfer sits Thursday with an award presented to him by the American Red Cross in the Emergency Operations Center where he works in the Warren County Courthouse basement.

 

Warren County Emergency Manager John Elfer has a new award proudly displayed in his office.

Elfer was recently awarded the Red Cross Emergency Services Award for his work as the county’s liaison between first responders and disaster relief services.

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“It was quite an honor,” Elfer said of receiving the award. “My office and I have really done a lot of work to get everyone on the same page.”

As emergency manager, Elfer works with the Red Cross in finding shelter for victims of disasters, most commonly fires.

“The Red Cross is our lead agency for sheltering, and they are assisted by numerous organizations,” he said. “No one agency is more important than another, but they are a major player.”

Other assisting agencies, he said, include the Mississippi Department of Human Services, The Salvation Army and the United Way.

Elfer, a former Warren County deputy, was hired by the Board of Supervisors to his current position in June 2011.

Since Elfer took office, the emergency operations center has added computers, a conference phone and other tech gadgets financed with grant money from MEMA.

He credits the success of the emergency management office to the diligent work of emergency responders and volunteers.

“You cannot respond to a disaster without faith-based organizations and volunteers,” Elfer said.

The Red Cross will be celebrating its many workers across the state this week as part of National Volunteer Week that runs April 6 though 12.

Nearly 1,900 volunteers serve with the Mississippi Red Cross, officials said.

Nationally, the Red Cross has nearly 400,000 volunteers, which represent more than 90 percent of the Red Cross workforce.

“Our volunteers respond to house fires, teach lifesaving skills, support our military members in the community and much more,” said Jared Turner, Capital River Chapter of the American Red Cross executive. “They help us fulfill our lifesaving mission every day and help us prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies.”

In 2013, Red Cross volunteers responded to 3,035 disasters in Mississippi, primarily single-family and apartment fires.

The work includes finding a comfortable place for displaced people to stay and providing hot meals, safe drinking water, new clothing, and replacement medicines and eyeglasses.

Volunteers have also trained 12,707 people in lifesaving skills over the past year.

“Our volunteers have generously donated their time in service to others through the Red Cross. Now it’s our turn to give back to our wonderful volunteers who have given so much,” said Cynthia Armstrong, regional volunteer manager.

People interested in volunteering with the American Red Cross may call Barbara Davis at 601-353-5442 or send an e-mail to barbara.davis@redcross.org.