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On Oct. 16 in Washington, D.C., the American Red Cross received a $6.5 million competitive training grant from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) during a check presentation at their national headquarters Disaster Operations Center from Sue Mencer, Director of the Department of Homeland Security?s Office for Domestic Preparedness (ODP).
Part of the unique Competitive Training Grants Program from the ODP, the grant will provide funding for training initiatives that assist in preparing the nation to prevent, deter, respond to and recover from incidents of terrorism involving weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
More than 200 applications were received by DHS, and of the fourteen awardees, the Red Cross received the largest financial grant of any organization.
?Should another terrorist incident, or one involving weapons of mass destruction, occur?and we all must operate on the assumption that this will happen?the humanitarian needs of people affected can only be met if the Red Cross and its partners are ready,? said Marsha J. Evans, President and CEO of the Red Cross, during the ceremony.
This is the first such grant program that was open to nonprofit organizations like the Red Cross, and its preparedness emphasis was parallel to the organization?s proven areas of expertise and leadership.
The goal of Red Cross grant activities is to help ensure people receive the care they need, including food, shelter and counseling, in the event of a terrorist attack or WMD incident. This commitment to providing essential human needs also includes the needs of first responders and emergency personnel on the scene. To do this, the Red Cross has proposed a training initiative to enhance the response capacity of non-governmental and volunteer organizations.
?With this grant, we look forward to empowering our partner NGOs to help respond to the needs of the people in our communities following an incident involving weapons of mass destruction or terrorism,? said Evans.
As part of the two-year pilot project, the Red Cross will conduct a community-based training program, in which local and national staff and volunteers will work with a number of nonprofit partners and emergency management professionals to enhance a coordinated, comprehensive and locally sustainable response plan that effectively supports current and developing response structures. Key components of this plan will include web-based training, a train-the-trainer curriculum and essential leave-behind resources.
?We know that voluntary organizations and other NGOs truly are the nation?s front line in addressing human needs should that day we all dread arrive,? said Evans. ?We are pleased that the Department of Homeland Security, through the Office for Domestic Preparedness, is recognizing the critical role we collectively play and is partnering with us to improve our ability to be there with the help that people need, at the time when people need us the most.?
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