Disaster training

Michael Smith
Salvation Army divisional emergency disaster services director Laurie Fried leads a class on proper food handling. Volunteer training before a disaster makes it possible for workers to be immediately dispatched to areas in need.

In the hours after a disaster, food and shelter are some of the most important necessities for a survivor to obtain. But would you stay in an emergency shelter if it wasn’t constructed properly? Would you eat emergency food if it wasn’t prepared properly?

For local Salvation Army volunteers on Saturday morning, a training class prepared them for safely feeding a community after a disaster.

“One of our core missions is actually food service,” said Salvation Army divisional emergency disaster services director Laurie Fried. She said food preparation and service at Salvation Army canteens is similar to food prep and service from restaurants. “If we’re out serving the public, we need to make sure that we’re using proper food handling,” she said.

The ServSafe class, often taken by restaurant and cafeteria workers, consists of curriculum approved by the National Restaurant Association. Fried told volunteers from the start that this is one of the few training classes not solely provided by the Salvation Army. According to information from ServSafe, Saturday’s course on food handling explained how food becomes unsafe through time-temperature abuse, cross-contamination, and improper cleaning and sanitizing methods.

Local Salvation Army administrator Capt. Kim Grimes said the Saturday course is only one aspect of volunteer training. “We also work with the local health department and we do the food handler’s class with them,” she said. Other training opportunities for volunteers throughout the year teach how to operate an emergency canteen, disaster management and finding financial assistance for victims.

About six volunteers were on hand for the training class, and Grimes expected more to arrive after a Saturday morning basketball tournament was finished. Fried said volunteer training is important all throughout the year to make sure knowledgeable volunteers can be put to work immediately after a disaster.

“It’s really difficult for us at the time of a disaster to put a volunteer to work immediately. We do need them to have this kind of training,” Fried said.

The Salvation Army of Ardmore holds other volunteer training events throughout the year. Grimes said people interested in future training sessions can follow the organization online at www.facebook.com/salarmyardmore.