As the Westgate Shopping Mall crisis entered its third day, teams of Kenya Red Cross Society staff and volunteers have been working round the clock to support the emergency services and members of the public caught up in the traumatic events.
Kenya Red Cross Society paramedics remain on standby at the scene with a fleet of 12 advanced life support ambulances ready to evacuate the remaining survivors to hospital as soon as they can be rescued. Currently, the death toll stands at 62, with 175 people injured and another 65 missing.
Three teams of 110 counsellors have also been on hand outside the Westgate Mall and at the Aga Khan and MP Shah hospitals to provide psychosocial support to those evacuated from the shopping mall and to the family and friends of those injured or killed in the attack.
The Kenya Red Cross Society has also been providing first aid and triage, and helping to locate missing family members through its 24-hour operation at the Visa Oshwal Centre, close to the Westgate Shopping Mall.
In response to the acute blood shortages faced by hospitals treating those injured in the attack, the Kenya Red Cross Society was quick to launch a number of donation drives across the country. Thousands turned out to help and nearly 3,000 units of blood were collected on the first day alone. Due to the overwhelming response, the blood donation drive will continue for the coming days in government hospitals and at public locations in major towns.
“The feeling of Kenyans coming out to support other Kenyans is phenomenal. People from all walks of life, as well as corporate and humanitarian organizations, have turned up to offer services and material support,” said Dr Abbas Gullet, Secretary General of the Kenya Red Cross Society. “People have also been incredibly generous and funds raised will go towards supporting survivors and their families beyond the emergency period,” he added.
The Kenya Red Cross Society has set up tracing desks at the Visa Oshwal Centre, and at Aga Khan and MP Shah Hospitals and has been helping families to locate missing relatives. In addition, an online platform for registering missing persons was set up, and a hotline number +254 714 820219+254 714 820219 was also activated. The Kenya Red Cross twitter handle @kenyaredcross has started a #RedCrossTrace tag for information sharing.
Photo: Staff from the Kenya Red Cross Society were first on the scene. An ambulance was on standby at the Mall's car park when the siege broke out.Susan Onyango, IFRC