A disaster response simulation, the first of its kind in the state of Kansas, will test out the concept of Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC) on Sunday, Oct. 6, in Stewart Field House on the campus of Southwestern College from 2-4 p.m. An estimated 300 Southwestern College students will gather to package comfort kits for the regional Red Cross.
The purpose of the M.A.R.C. is to bring together under one roof all local and national agencies that would provide relief and assistance after a disaster; this would make it easier for victims to quickly and efficiently get the help they need.
The first time the M.A.R.C. strategy was officially used was after the May 2011 tornado in Joplin, Mo., and then again after the May 2013 tornado in Moore, Okla. This will be the first time the concept will be tested in Kansas. The purpose of the project is two-fold. Southwestern students participating in the simulation will gain heightened awareness about the massive community effort needed after a disaster and potential volunteer opportunities in their local community. Additionally, the Red Cross and United Way agencies are hoping to draft an official M.A.R.C. response plan that can be used in the event of an actual disaster.
“We hope that we will never actually have to put this plan into place in Cowley County,” says Mark Stump, director of direct services from United Way of the Plains. “However, the more we can sit together and talk about things like this on calm, sunny days, the more prepared we will be to act quickly and efficiently in the event of an actual disaster.”
The local branch of disaster response, Cowley County Emergency Management, under the direction of Brian Stone, will be evaluating the M.A.R.C. trial run.
Approximately 20 community partners have agreed to participate in this event and will have booths located inside the gymnasium: The American Red Cross, Cowley County Disaster Management, Southwestern College, United Methodist Committee on Relief, KSOK Radio, insurance agents from American Family Insurance, Salvation Army, Cowley County Animal Response Team, Cowley County Mental Health, Winfield City Commission (represented by Beth Wilke), Cowley County Health Department, United Way of the Plains, Children’s Miracle Network, Catholic Charities, Winfield Food Bank, Winfield First United Methodist Church, Lions Club, Creative Community Living, and Winfield Community Helping Hands.
Additionally, Southwestern students will package approximately 700 Red Cross Comfort Kits to be distributed regionally to disaster victims. The kits include basic toiletry items, and funding for the kits was provided by Southwestern College Student Government Association, Student Foundation, the SC athletic department, the SC service learning teams and the SC performing arts department. Delta Dental is donating approximately 720 toothbrushes to the effort.
“This is the third annual campus-wide Homecoming service project, says Lindsay Wilke, director of the SC service learning council. “It is inspiring to see Southwestern students dedicate their time and efforts to kick off their Homecoming week with an emphasis on service. And this year it is exciting that we will be part of a brand new initiative for the state. We hope that students will recognize the importance of this effort that extends beyond the day and learn something about themselves and their community during this process.”