Even with full-time employment with a local developmental college for mentally ill and challenged adults and part-time work as a paramedic, Jerry Dickens spends countless hours serving the American Red Cross mission. As a leadership volunteer he has utilized his professional skills to help the Disaster Services department develop a logistical and accountability system for the Medical Assistance Team (MAT) and a disaster plan for a facility for the mentally and physically challenged. He also served as the Co-Chair for the Disaster Health Services (DHS) Committee.
Dickens' commitment to the mission of the Red Cross is apparent in his extensive community service. In support of the Disaster Health Services program, Dickens reaches out to the community to form agreements with pharmacies and community service agencies to continually improve the level of services the Red Cross provides to its clients. From its inception, Dickens was a member of the First Aid Safety Team (FAST), which served as the primary first aid station at community events. He also instructs First Aid/CPR through a local hospital and serves in any capacity of disaster preparation and education where a need is identified.
In the trials of immediate field decisions, Dickens effectively uses his knowledge, resources and insight to make the best choices. This has been apparent from his first national assignment in response to Hurricane Andrew. He was reported to be an excellent trainer, organizer and innovator. In South Dakota in 1993 he was able to control an insect infestation at a shelter by using his diplomacy skills to coordinate the shelter and local logistics crews. During the Greater Houston Floods of 1994, an incident involving a communicable disease threatened the health of shelter clients. Dickens orchestrated the relocation of the shelter, the complete disinfection of the original facility and addressed the emotional and physical needs of the affected family.
Last year during the response to Typhoon Paka in Guam, his service was rated "highly efficient" with empathy and cultural sensitivity. In fact, Dickens was so welcomed by the community that he was invited to many community events, including a local wedding. In Nevada, 1996, he acted as a Human Relations Liaison and was commended for his application of Red Cross policy and genuine compassion as he identified and addressed health issues. Dickens also worked at the Coast Guard Recovery Site for TWA Flight 800. When morale was ravaged by the extreme conditions and the overpowering sense of tragedy, Dickens worked far beyond his expected workload.
These activities are indicative of the invaluable contributions he has made to his local Red Cross chapter. But, they do not even begin to illustrate the contribution that Dickens makes to the community, the chapter, and the American Red Cross. The greatest commodities he offers are his time and his personality, which make his work so unique – an indefinable spark that has been observed and lauded in every one of his almost twenty national disaster assignment reviews. He has been recommended to serve as a mentor and a leader for the next generation of Red Cross volunteers.