Dave Lindo, Gleaner Writer
MANDEVILLE, Manchester:THE MANCHESTER Red Cross is held in high esteem by residents of the parish due to the unrelenting service it has been providing over the years.
Their dedication in serving others has elevated them to being one of the most active Red Cross branch in Jamaica.
Led by director Lustan Letts, the organisation is making grounds in providing first-class service to its beneficiaries within the parish in instances of natural disasters, accidents and other emergencies.
The Manchester Red Cross has a 160-strong membership which includes a youth arm in high schools.
Letts, the proprietor of Letts Printing Service in Mandeville, has been a member of the Manchester Red Cross, a branch of the Jamaica Red Cross for just over 10 years.
"A friend of mine who was director (of Manchester Red Cross) then, Michael Walker, first invited me to a meeting," Letts said. "I just developed an urge to help others which is the primary role of Red Cross."
Letts has been the director of the Manchester branch for five years and under his leadership it has become the number-one branch in Jamaica.
"We have dedicated members of the Red Cross who are volunteers, our members are willing to serve," Letts said. "We have the best youth group with deCarteret College voted as the best in the island."
He added: "We also have very good first aid CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) first responders, seven in total certified by the American Orthopaedic Association, (they) work on the ambulance."
Letts disclosed that this was the highest number of trained first responders working in one parish outside the Corporate Area.
The group also has an ambulance that was part sponsored by the Mandeville Rotary Club which, according to Letts, is well-equipped.
"We are well prepared and ready for any emergency, storm/hurricane, earthquake, including trained personnel as shelter managers," Letts said.
"Our staff is very experienced and efficient, including Lloyd Myrie, the Manchester Red Cross disaster chairman, who is doing a great job here. Melissa Mathie is in charge of the youth group and Jeletta Lewis is the chairman of the (Manchester) branch; we work together as a team."
The Manchester Red Cross also supervises the training of persons in first aid. One of the most recent training clinics was organised by Windalco, which trained personnel from schools across the parish
Speaking on the gratification Red Cross members get through their work being a voluntary organisation, Letts said, "We are not paid, what we get can't be taken to the banks here in Jamaica, it won't be accepted in supermarkets, what we get out of this is the satisfaction that we have helped somebody and in providing humanitarian service."
As to some of his most memorable moments working with the Red Cross, Letts said, "There are several, like in a storm we have to go in areas and build houses for people and to see people sleeping in somewhere dry again, that is very satisfying."
"During the Haiti earthquake, the Manchester youth arm of Red Cross collected $720,000 to send to the victims of the earthquake. It gives us the satisfaction that we are not just people locally, but also internationally."
Letts said the Red Cross team has to be on alert right round the clock. "I am a Seventh-day Adventist, whether I am in church preaching or teaching, if the hospital or police call me to move a patient day or night, I am gone."