April 26, 2018 at 10:02 am

Alumni News | Geyer Looks to Future in Disaster Recovery, Community Resiliency Field

a smiling Kelsie Geyer behind the wheel of F150 with American Red Cross logo on truck door

Kelsie Geyer in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in October 2017.

Kelsie Geyer ’12 went to New Orleans for several months in 2017 to volunteer with local Red Cross chapter, New Orleans-Southeastern Louisiana.

Her dream job has always incorporated the idea of helping communities overcome or prepare for whatever environmental challenges they may face. It wasn’t until after her first Red Cross experience that she decided to focus on moving toward a career in this field.

She took as many classes as she could towards becoming a Disaster Action Team member, as well as becoming involved in the Mass Care unit. Geyer earned her bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from the College of Arts & Sciences at Ohio University.

Deploying to Baton Rouge

Later on in October 2017, Geyer was deployed to Baton Rouge, where she helped respond to Hurricane Nate (later downgraded to a tropical storm). There she trained as a mass care shelter lead, where she helped dispatch incoming volunteers to shelters across different parishes of Louisiana. Together with the Mass Care lead and assistant Mass Care lead, her group staffed and opened five shelters across three different parishes.

As a Disaster Action Team member, Geyer was put on an “on-call” list or DAT member call down list. Essentially, this is an emergency phone tree for members who want to volunteer for emergencies during all hours of the night and day. One evening, she was called up to respond to a house fire.

There she was, around 7 p.m., riding with a senior Red Cross member in the car on the way to her first house fire. Luckily, the fire wasn’t that damaging, and no one was seriously injured, but it was still a life-changing experience.

While the Red Cross volunteers are not the first responders on the scene, they are the first people on scene to offer assistance and advice on what steps to take moving forward.

Adding Community Emergency Response Training

Fast forward to a couple months later in, after Geyer had moved to Denver.

Having volunteered with the Red Cross only further reaffirmed her interest in the community resiliency and disaster recovery field, so she signed up for CERT (Community Emergency Response Training) training to add to her experience. The two-day class went by quickly and was filled with many hands-on exercises and mini-trainings, including a small search and rescue and a simulation of a multiple casualty event.

“Being involved with these organizations makes me feel like I’m actively making a difference in the world and my community,” Geyer says. “Knowing that I helped provide real-time, hands-on assistance to folks in need is immensely gratifying and is what I enjoy about being a part of these organizations.”

She got involved in these organizations because she sees them as great places to gain experience for a job in the disaster recovery/community resiliency field. She wanted to utilize the skills she gained from her Anthropology degree and Environmental Studies certificate and apply them towards a field that she could see herself in and disaster recovery fills that niche.

Geyer works retail in a small independent boutique in Denver. While retail is not the field she wants to be in, it still gives her the small satisfaction of helping out others find something they may or may not have been looking for. And it enables her to be able to participate in these skill-developing activities to prepare for her next job – in disaster recovery.

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