Volunteers who step up in emergency situations meet in Butte

Posted at 7:54 PM, Jun 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-05 14:42:20-04

BUTTE – In the event of an emergency, first responders are ready to move. But volunteer organizations are also ready to roll.

So, let’s say you need a therapy dog to help during a crisis situation. Just give them a call.

“We do not self-deploy, our service is free and we’re on-call 24/7,” said Harry Schlitz of the Hope K-9 Team.

This canine service is just one of more than 50 volunteer groups that are part of Montana branch of Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster or VOAD, which met in Butte Tuesday for its annual meeting to learn about how they can help during a natural disaster or crisis situation.

“A train accident, or a plane accident or a flooding situation or a wildfire. We had a lot of wildfires last year in this state,” said VOAD Director Dick Deschamps.

“Some of the dogs that I work with have this intuition that seemed to work a room where everyone’s waiting for responses and they’ll want to sit right by the person that seems to be giving off the most stress,” Schlitz said.

Organizers want volunteers to be just as prepared as professional emergency responders because they are often times there from the beginning to the end when something bad happens.

“Often times when that fire gets started it’s a local person that puts that first shovel of dirt on that fire and when all things are left over it’s probably a local person that satisfies that last need of a survivor of a wildfire,” Schlitz said.

Reporting by John Emeigh for MTN News