By Kayla Ihrig, AmeriCorps member serving the American Red Cross NW Region
A former emergency medical technician (EMT) is using their training to educate the Bellingham community on first aid and disaster preparedness.
A new addition to the team, AmeriCorps member Prentiss Andrews, has taken the role of disaster preparedness coordinator for the Bellingham Red Cross office. He’s also a disaster action team (DAT) volunteer, who respond to disasters like home fires 24/7, and is working toward his certification to be a Red Cross volunteer CPR instructor.
Andrews received his undergraduate degree in geology from Western Washington University in Bellingham, and said the Red Cross is a good fit.
“Between the disaster preparedness curriculum and first aid for youth, it’s a good match for my interests,” Andrews said. “A lot of the issues we talk about are tied to geological issues, like landslides and earthquakes, so I’m fortunate to have studied that. They’re important things for kids and adults to learn about, and it’s also interesting for me on a personal level.”
In addition to being an EMT, Andrews was previously a Washington river guide and worked in energy development.
“Between working on the river and working in energy development, I’ve used my medical training on the job,” Andrews said. “Long-term, I’m looking to stay in the medical field.”
Andrews may pursue a career as a physicians assistant after the Red Cross. He hasn’t decided on a school or specialty, but his medical career may stay related to disaster response.
“Eventually, I think it would be fun to match a specialty with response/recovery work, so I’m excited to continue working with the Red Cross even after my term has ended, if possible.”
In addition to the personal interest in disaster education, Andrews enjoys working for the Red Cross. “Being able to work at a nonprofit helps me in a number of ways,” Andrews said.
To date, he has taught approximately 850 children and adults. The classes cover a range of topics, from children learning how to tie a sling to adults learning how to live without plumbing and electricity. He is also building relationships with the university and school district to educate as many students as possible.
Andrews is serving with the Red Cross until mid-July, but he doesn’t expect his work with the Red Cross of his community to end there.
“I want to maintain a volunteer status after my AmeriCorps term,” he said. “The large-scale relief is really cool and important but I think the community level engagement might be even more valuable.”