“Right now what I’m seeing and smelling and if you look over my shoulder it’s just hot air, filled with soot and smoke. I usually have a mask on, but it would be hard to communicate with you wearing the facemask. It’s aggressive air. What we are seeing people are typically wiping off shoot, ash from their windowsills, from their car windshield, from their bodies,” Joe Apicelli explained.
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Joe lives in Groton and volunteers for the Red Cross. He landed in California Saturday afternoon and hit the ground running. The crew is doing anything they can to help.
“They don’t really know what to do. They are upset, they are kind of numb, and they are doing the best they can to cope with going from one minute to the next. The only thing we can really do for them is to tell them that we are here, we are supporting them, we care for them, and we will do whatever it takes to help them on their way back to recovery,” Apicelli said.
And that includes emotional and mental health first aid as well.
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Wayne Daily is a clinical psychologist and volunteers for the Red Cross. He was at the brutal fires last year and said people who lose everything and run for their lives are under incredible stress.
“When we meet with people who have experienced that kind of thing, who felt a direct threat to their life, we have to start in a very fundamental place and help to calm them down,” he stated.
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, you can click here for more information.