The American Red Cross, through the San Benito County Office of Emergency Services, deployed volunteer teams to San Juan Bautista homes on Saturday, May 20 to install free fire alarm systems, check batteries for replacement, if necessary, and assist with a family escape plan.
When team No. 4 approached Teri Teshima in her neighborhood, she asked for two alarm installations.
“You are awesome,” she declared of the team, adding more praise of the Red Cross. “If you need anything, they’re there. Some people don’t have anyone to help in such an event as a fire.”
Teshima related that her brother’s house was involved in a fire and the Red Cross offered to help with anything he needed, including clothing, food or a place to stay until he could move back into his home. He declined the offer, but expressed his appreciation for it.
While in Teshima’s home, and after the alarms were installed and a disaster plan made, the team, at her request, walked to her late parents’ home and installed free alarms. It was an opportune time, as the house was empty and being renovated.
Team 4 was composed of Dennis Alexander, who is a longtime American Red Cross volunteer as well as a Seaside City Councilman and law enforcement officer. He is also a Seaside High School teacher and Honor Society advisor.
His student and honor society member, sophomore Xilonen Perez, accompanied him, as did Sandy Williamson, a three-and-a-half year American Red Cross volunteer.
All three members of this team had previous experience with the efforts to plan and assist during disasters, such as the recent floods in the Lovers Lane area north of Hollister.
Before departing on the route Saturday, Red Cross Disaster Program Specialist Helen Consentino gave the directions to the team, and each member had a designated duty: Alexander installed the alarms in the houses, while Williamson took care of the alarms to be installed and served as the teams’ navigator to the houses in question.
Perez assisted the homeowner or renter to make an escape plan, and served as a translator when necessary.
Several homes were approached during the three-hour walk through the neighborhood, with some saying they regularly check their alarms, while other folks were happy to be reminded about making certain the batteries were working.
Four homes received free alarms, and volunteers created a disaster plan for the family to practice.
Colleen Giusiana already had four alarms in her home, but Alexander checked them to be certain they were in working order. She created an escape plan with assistance from Perez.
Four alarms at Gabriella Lopez’s home were installed, as they were in her neighbors’ home adjourning the property.
Everywhere the team went, people were accepting of and knowledgeable about the Red Cross.
Williamson left information in each home regarding the disaster preparedness component of the Red Cross and how to get a free fire alarm.
The American Red Cross’ goal is to make certain every home in California has a working fire alarm to save lives.