Moffat County Emergency Manager Clyde Anderson responded Friday to the Red Cross' call for volunteers to assist at fires across Colorado. And, he did it with his employer's blessing.
Anderson will remain on the Moffat County Sheriff's Department payroll for the week he is volunteering at the Hayman fire. That, he said, is the only way he could go and he encourages other Moffat County employers to do the same.
"It's hard for people to volunteer because they all have jobs," he said. "I think we need to challenge other employers to do what the sheriff's office is doing because the need is there. This is a crisis."
Anderson terms himself "loaned out" to help with the emergency.
Many volunteers use their vacation time to take unpaid leave to help in a crisis, and that, Anderson said, is the reason there are so few volunteers anymore.
"We need employers to work with people to enable them to volunteer," he said.
Anderson chose to go because he has completed Red Cross training. He will be stationed at Loveland Park where he will work in the family services unit writing vouchers for shoes, clothes and other basic necessities needed by those who have been evacuated.
"They need more volunteers," he said.
Twenty-three people from the Northwest Colorado Chapter of the Red Cross have been sent to lend aid at various fires around the state.
The Red Cross in Craig is holding training courses to help fill the need for more volunteers. The first class held Friday and Saturday was filled to capacity with 13 students.
The goal, said Deb Lowe, branch manager for the Northwest Colorado Red Cross, is to have at least 35 trained Red Cross volunteers in each of the three counties the branch covers Moffat, Routt and Rio Blanco.
That number, Lowe said, would give the Red Cross a good base of volunteers to draw from.
"It's looking like this summer is going to be ongoing for a long time," Lowe said. "We need people trained so we have people to respond."
Lowe is planning to hold another class in the next few weeks, but doesn't have the details at this point.
There were nine people on the waiting list for the first class, she said. That bodes well for filling the need for volunteers in Northwest Colorado, she said.