John Holley needs replaced.
He hasn’t done anything wrong but after serving as a Red Cross Disaster Team member in Edgar County since 2001, he is ready to slow down. He is also moving to …
John Holley needs replaced.
He hasn’t done anything wrong but after serving as a Red Cross Disaster Team member in Edgar County since 2001, he is ready to slow down. He is also moving to Terre Haute, Ind., and will not be available to respond locally.
“They are looking for four people to replace me so you are not on all of the time like I have been,” Holley said, about his volunteer position to help victims of fire or other disasters.
His work mostly involves helping Edgar County families displaced by a fire, and those calls from Edgar County dispatch can come at any time of the day or night, holidays and weekends alike.
Holley said after getting the call he grabs a brief case full of supplies and heads to the scene to meet with the family. He estimated there is about one such fire a month.
“Most of the time people get out, but they don’t have any clothes or food,” he said.
His main task is meeting with the family that is displaced by the fire, confirming how many are in the family, clothing sizes and if there are other accommodations they can go to. If prescription medicine was destroyed by the fire, he calls on a nurse practitioner who verifies the medicine being taken and the pharmacy that issued it.
After all of the information is gathered, Holley makes a phone call to Springfield where a Red Cross representative remotely activates a pre-paid MasterCard kept in the briefcase.
“I give them the card and tell them to rent a room, go to the store and buy clothes and shoes or get food, whatever they need,” he said.
When the needs of the fire victims are met, he returns home, scans the paperwork and emails it to a supervisor in Danville.
His other fire related activities include bringing firefighters hot drinks on cold days, cold drinks on hot days and sometimes cheeseburgers if the department is on scene for an extended period.
Holley said most of the time he deals with people left homeless by a fire, but on rare occasions he has coped with a situation where the fire resulted in a fatality. He has had a couple of disaster situations, also.
Shortly after moving to Edgar County, he was summoned to Terre Haute to assist with flood relief. He helped with an evacuation when a 2006 CSX derailment north of Paris resulted in a chemical spill and people had to leave their homes.
“We set up a shelter and fed lunch to people at Crestwood,” he said.
An unusual situation was helping 11 families secure shelter after being displaced when officials declared the apartments in the former school at Redman were unsafe for habitation.
His association with the Red Cross started in the late 1990s when he lived in Parke County, Indiana, and Red Cross officials approached a HAM Radio group doing weather spotting about training for tornado assessment. That experience evolved into also training as a disaster team member.
“I’ve enjoyed it, and it needs to be done,” said Holley.
Community members wanting to take over after Holley should immediately contact Red Cross Recruiter Jared Kaylor at 217-610-8004 or firstname.lastname@example.org. All training is done online, and Holley is willing to go with his replacements to the first couple of incidents to help them navigate the experience and paperwork.
He emphasized replacements are needed immediately because of his moving. He acknowledged this volunteer work requires dedication and a belief that doing something good is its own worthwhile endeavor.
“I’m just trying to do something to make my community a better place,” said Holley.