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Red Cross ZIP code response policy spills into Glendale

Posted at 9:53 PM, Jan 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-03 13:10:42-05

The new Red Cross policy keeping onsite volunteers away from certain ZIP codes Milwaukee spilled into Glendale, as more than half the community is in an impacted area.  

The 53209 ZIP code is one of the 10 the Red Cross will no longer provide an onsite response to after a fire.  

The Red Cross of Wisconsin Regional CEO Patty Flowers told Glendale leaders the move is temporary during a meeting Tuesday night.

"It's not meant to be a permanent change. It is to get us through while we are looking to build up our resources to have more people and more ability to get out there," said Patty Flowers, Red Cross Regional CEO.

Right now if the Red Cross gets a call from those areas they'll still dispatch, but volunteers will meet victims at a police station instead of the scene.  

Glendale Alderwoman Tomika Vukovic asked Flowers some tough questions about the choice of ZIP codes affected since they're predominantly African American.

"I call a spade a spade. It seems to me like institutional racism, but let's see what they do, let's see how they prove themselves," Vukovic said.

Flowers called it a misunderstanding.

"That was never our intent to take any ZIP codes and target certain people," Flowers said.

The Red Cross said the reason for the change isthe need for more volunteers.  Flowers told Glendale leaders they need 50 trained volunteers willing to consistently fill shifts to make things go back to normal.  

Vukovic would have liked to know this before the organization abruptly pulled on-site response teams. 

"I think they're backtracking a little bit, which I'm OK with them backtracking cause it's doing the right thing," Vukovic said.

The North Shore Fire Chief said it's helpful when the Red Cross comes to scenes, but they don't use the organization as much as Milwaukee since they have a chaplain program of their own in place.  

To learn about volunteering with the Red Cross go to its website.