PLATTSBURGH - The North Country chapter of the American Red Cross has appointed a new emergency services coordinator.
Morrisonville native and resident George J. Christon II took on the position on a part-time basis July 14. His primary duty is to coordinate the administration of volunteers who provide support for the chapte's Disaster Services, Service to Armed Forces and Utility Assistance programs.
Christon is no stranger to the Red Cross. He has served as a volunteer for four years with the local chapter and as a member of the chapter's Disaster Assistance Team.
Christon said he sought the job when he heard the position was open because he wanted to become more involved with the Red Cross.
"I found volunteering was a great way to get involved with the community," said Christon. "It's a good feeling."
The good feeling he got from his involvement with the Red Cross is what ultimately led him to pursue the position of emergency services coordinator, he said.
Jeanie C. Roberts, executive director of the local chapter, said Christon has an important role overseeing approximately 500 volunteers in the nearly 3,500 square miles that encompass the chapter.
"George will be responsible for supporting the volunteers and keeping them involved," said Roberts. "When people contact the office asking how they can get involved in disaster assistance, George will see that they receive the necessary training to become member of the D.A.T. team."
In his new position, Christon is also responsible for making sure volunteers being deployed to national disaster relief efforts meet the necessary requirements, including background checks and security clearance. Christon also meets with families who experience some sort of fire and is currently reviewing the chapter's disaster plan and its individual component, which are considered very important to have up-to-date in the event of an emergency.
Most recently, Christon has been keeping updated on the H1N1 virus that has dominated headlines since earlier this year. That has included keeping current with information from the Centers for Disease Control.
"That means keeping up-to-date on the latest outbreaks, which is also critical in the health care field and is important in my job as an EMT also," he said.
Overall, the position of emergency services coordinator is one Christon finds rewarding.
"It's been challenging," said Christon. "There's always a lot to learn and always something that needs to be done. But, it's been good."
Christon served four years with the Army National Guard and the Army's 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ky., before returning home to the North Country in 2002. Though he was in an infantry unit instead of a medical detachment, Christon credits his military service for increasing his desire to serve with the Red Cross.
"It's fulfilling to me," Christon said of his work for the Red Cross and as an EMT. "If I come to work and help someone on the ambulance or assist a family burned out by a fire, personally, when I go home at the end of the day, I'm fulfilled knowing that I helped someone."
Though his position is currently part-time, Christon said he would like to see it go full-time in the future. Roberts said she hopes so, too.
"This position is very important to the chapter's goals and the health and safety of the residents in our chapter we serve," said Roberts. "Financially, I hope we will be able to move in that direction soon."
When not working weekday mornings at the chapter's office on Guy Way, Christon may also be found taking advanced emergency medical technician courses at Clinton Community College or in an ambulance as an EMT for one of the rescue squad units in Dannemora, Lyon Mountain, Morrisonville or Saranac.