Today I don't have to leave the motel until 11 AM; we've been given a half day off since it's Sunday. Everyone is supposed to get one full day after working seven days, so I'm making sure my folks are getting a full day in addition to this one. I'll take a day when I can.
Instead of sleeping late I got up at 5:30 to do my laundry. There are only two washing machines and I knew they'd be busy. Now my laundry is done and I can relax for a while.
Anyway, someone in my writing group asked me for details about what I do here, so thought I'dc post the answers here.
Here's are my functions:
1. Coordinate disaster mental health services--sending out mental health workers with Outreach Teams. Teams consist of two client caseworkers (people who determine financial need, based only on this disaster, not previous need), a health services worker (nurse or EMT), and mental health person (at least a master's degree and license to practice independently). Normally you can only practice in the state in which you are licensed, but when the president declares a state of emergency that rule is waived.
2. Assess need--all of our outreach people do this, but when a client comes into the service center I do this as well. We try to have another MH person with me so I can do the managerial stuff, but yesterday everyone was out all day. So I was able to interact with clients. It's a privilege.
3. Assist volunteers and paid staff--it's a stressful job and sometimes people need to go home. We help evaluate volunteers and staff and ensure they are doing okay. When people are due to rotate out we also speak to them to make sure they'll be able to re-integrate into their community. Sometimes we see horrific things and need to be debriefed, just like cops and firefighters.
4. Respond to emergencies--we do "hot shot" calls when we hear of emergent needs. These happen fairly often, and a mental health worker and health services person usually respond together.
5. Compile reports--the Red Cross strives to be a transparent organization, one that has no secrets. After the Gulf storms of 2005, which caught all agencies unaware, the RC has put in many safeguards. So I have to do tons of reporting. Not a bad thing, and certainly important, but I'd rather work with folks.
I do love the job I have though. Other than being tired, I could do this all the time. The people in this area are so grateful and so kind to us.