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"Red Cross was a godsend"


Central Queensland man David Dunkinson says he hates to think where he would have ended up if it wasn't for the support of Red Cross after Tropical Cyclone Marcia smashed across his town.

With no power or communications and widespread damage in his neighbourhood David and his family found their way to a community hall at Emu Park.

He suddenly began to feel unwell, and his son alerted a nearby Red Cross worker. Team member Eva Ruggiero noticed he was going blue and she stayed by his side while she called an ambulance.

"I was looking for somewhere to charge the mobiles and the Red Cross lady saw I couldn't breathe. I'm a heart patient and she was straight onto me. She was a godsend," David says.

"She rang the ambulance, they got me some oxygen. She was a lovely lady.

"It was great. [Without Red Cross] we'd still be in a hole. I'd have ended up in hospital."

His son Jacob Vines adds that if it wasn't for Red Cross you'd feel there was no one out there who cares.

"They are the heart of the community," he says.

Eva was working in an outreach team visiting outlying coastal communities as part of Red Cross recovery efforts after the category five cyclone crashed across the Capricorn coast.

Red Cross has long been active in central Queensland, with services based around the region.

Our staff and volunteers work with families, young people, those living with mental health issues, isolated elderly people, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and in emergency services.

As Cyclone Marcia passed through the region, Red Cross volunteers were on the ground supporting people seeking refuge in cyclone shelters.

Trained staff and volunteers have been providing psychological first aid to those most affected, helping to reconnect families separated by the disaster and door knocking to check on people and give out recovery information.

Red Cross teams are at work in many outlying isolated towns, as well as in recovery centres. In the first week alone, Red Cross had 75 staff and volunteers support the region's recovery centres which were visited by more than 18,000 people

The Queensland Government has also asked Red Cross to help distribute food vouchers to those most in need. The food vouchers are helping those who have been struggling without power to buy food, water, nappies and other basic essentials.

David says it meant so much that Eva stayed with him, and following up with agencies to ensure he was able to get the medical help he needed - particularly an emergency power supply to ensure his oxygen machine could function.

"Red Cross was wonderful," he says with a big smile, and behind him, his son and family echo his thoughts.

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