A mental health counselor from Spokane will join the Red Cross disaster response team in American Samoa as it assesses the damage from Wednesday’s tsunami.
As mental health manager, Lyle O’Neel, of the Inland Northwest Chapter of the American Red Cross, will provide emotional support for disaster victims as well as Red Cross responders.
“One of our primary responsibilities will be working with the families of the deceased and hospitalized,” O’Neel said.
As part of the national emergency management team, he also will evaluate what additional mental health resources will be needed.
O’Neel said he got the call early Wednesday morning from the Red Cross headquarters. However, he later learned he will not be able to leave Spokane until Sunday because there are only two flights daily from Honolulu to American Samoa.
A retired mental health professional, O’Neel has served in 26 national disasters, including the 9/11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina.