American Red Cross-NMI Chapter got a lot of kudos from the Chinese Consulate General in Los Angeles, California, for helping survivors of the Oct. 7 Star Marianas on Tinian.
ARC-NMI Chapter executive director John Hirsh said they welcome the gratitude of consul Yu Xiong and vice consul Hongming Wang but they were actually just doing there job.
“We’re flattered that they said such nice things about us. But this is always what we do. This is not something that is out of the ordinary. This was par for the course. Whenever there is a disaster here in the Commonwealth, the Red Cross is there. It’s that simple. We were there and we worked with the families and we worked with the professional first responders,” he said following last week’s Rotary Club of Saipan meeting at the Hyatt Regency Saipan where he served as guest speaker.
Hirsh said one of gestures the Chinese consul and vice consul probably appreciated the most from the ARC-NMI Chapter was when their mental health volunteers went out and bought four blankets for families of the survivors as well as the victims at the hospital.
“He bought them those blankets because it was cold at the hospital. It really meant a lot to the family members of the survivors and the victims. It’s such a small thing but it meant a lot to them.”
Hirsh’s staff also bought new clothes and shoes for the youngest survivor of the Star Marianas crash.
“For the 3-year-old girl we went out and bought all new clothes and shoes because she lost everything from the crash. She was ambulatory right away as she only needed to stay at the hospital for only a couple of days. We also got her teddy bears.”
Aside from looking after the needs of survivors and their families at the Commonwealth Health Center, Hirsh said they were also active in assessing and treating not only the mental health of survivors and their family, but those of first responders as well.
“So we work for about seven to eight hours everyday at CHC with our colleagues at the hospital to try and ensure all the needs of the family members are met. This was collaboration among CHC, the Red Cross, the Chinese Consulate from California, and the local Chinese association to see if there’s anything we can do.
“This week we’re going to Tinian to meet with the people who actually came upon the crash site because it was a very traumatic scene. They need to process it. They [mental health volunteers] use the right words and get people to talk about their feelings. We do case work and make those determinations.”
Hirsh said the ARC-NMI Chapter has been very active in this particular disaster with their mental health volunteers.
“We have certified social workers that work for the Red Cross and volunteer for the Red Cross. So in addition to their regular working hours as mental health counselors they also go through intensive Red Cross training. So when an aviation disaster happens or any major calamity, we activate those people so they meet with the families, victims, and even first responders.”