Black Hills Red Cross prepares for the worst - KOTA Territory News

Black Hills Red Cross prepares for the worst

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Each year, the Sturgis motorcycle rally brings in hundreds of thousands of people to the Black Hills.

In the event of a major disaster, the American Red Cross and Meade County emergency managers are ready to handle a "worst case scenario."      

Friday, 25 volunteers brushed up on their disaster response skills at a functional exercise based on a scenario about a Sturgis rally mass incident, leading to many casualties.  

"The specific scenario is a terrible storm tornado comes through the area," said American Red Cross Emergency Services Director, Dan Kuecker. "And displaces both residents and also visitors to Sturgis during the rally time frame." 

In an event like the one described above, the Red Cross specializes in setting up shelters. 

"We arrived at this shelter 30 minutes ago and we're able to receive residents now," said Kuecker. "We're still getting set up but we're ready to receive folks." 

Kuecker says locations should meet certain standards in order for the Red Cross to use them as  shelters, including having showers, bathrooms, and kitchens.

He says the 120 volunteers throughout Western South Dakota do a great job preparing, but it wouldn't hurt to have extra hands in the case of a disaster.

"Also we can draw on the community," said Kuecker. "People who want to come out and help, we can incorporate them into our work force as well." 

Sturgis' First United Methodist Church is only one of the 100 to 130 designated Red Cross shelters throughout Western South Dakota.

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