More than two dozen University of Northern Iowa ROTC cadets are now certified as American Red Cross disaster volunteers. They were trained on the Cedar Falls campus by the agency’s disaster team members.
UNI Professor Michele Devlin was among the trainers and says the student-soldiers already know how to handle combat situations, so it makes sense they should also know what to do if they’re called to help with a fire or natural disaster.
“These are really high-speed cadets and young adults, some of them are veterans who are back now and working towards commissioning as officers,” Devlin says. “They’re really a terrific group of young people who want to give back to their communities.” Devlin says there’s often a need for volunteers to assist with fires, floods or tornadoes and it does not call for federal involvement, so that’s where the cadets can fill the gap.
Devlin says, “The Red Cross is often there doing sheltering and feeding and mass care and damage assessment, so these ROTC cadets are a perfect fit in this civil, military emergency response.” She says similar training is planned for ROTC cadets at the University of Dubuque. Some of UNI’s global studies students have also expressed an interest.