Learn how to save a life during National CPR + AED Week

The basketball referee crumbled to the floor of the court, lifeless. The game between the Glass City Wranglers of Toledo and the Jamestown Jackals of New York came to an abrupt halt, as players and spectators wondered what was wrong.

Myles Copeland did not wait.

Myles Copeland – Toledo Firefighter

Myles is a Toledo firefighter – and was playing with the Wranglers during his off hours when referee John Scully suffered cardiac arrest – something Myles was trained to treat. He immediately began CPR, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, performing chest compressions while awaiting the arrival of emergency medical personnel, and that likely saved John’s life.

Myles Copeland won an Acts of Courage award from the American Red Cross of Western Lake Erie for his swift intervention, as did Lt. Jim Schulty, also with the Toledo Fire Department. Jim performed CPR on a fellow hockey player after his heart stopped beating and is also credited with saving a life.

These are just two examples of the value of knowing how to perform CPR, and there’s no better time to highlight these stores, as National CPR + AED Awareness week begins today. And while Myles and Jim are professional firefighters and have had on-the-job training, anyone can be trained to help save lives with CPR and an AED.

More than 350,000 people suffer a cardiac arrest annually, but only 9% survive.

Every second counts when responding to a cardiac arrest. If you see someone suddenly collapse, call 911, send someone for the AED and begin CPR. 

Nicole and Lindsey Bechter

That’s what Lindsey and Nicole Bechter did while they were serving as referees at a volleyball court in Cuyahoga Falls last summer. A player collapsed, and the sisters took turns performing CPR until the ambulance arrived.

Even if you aren’t trained, doing chest compressions (pushing hard and fast in the center of the chest) is better than doing nothing. It’s what Jim Kuhn did. The bus driver for the city of Wadsworth helped keep a passenger alive by pushing down on the man’s chest after he collapsed when trying to board the bus last November. For their lifesaving actions, Jim, Lindsey and Nicole received Acts of Courage awards from the Red Cross of Greater Akron and the Mahoning Valley.

Acts of Courage award winner Jim Kuhn, center, with board member Ryan Lang, left, and committee chair Tara Silva, right.

You can get trained by visiting redcross.org/take-a-class. At the very least, learn how to perform hands- only CPR.

Every second counts in cardiac arrest. If you see someone collapse without warning, know your  “Cardiac Arrest 1‐2‐3.”

  1. Call 9‐1‐1 and get the AED 
  2. Start CPR 
  3. Use an AED


Edited and posted by Ryan Lang, Red Cross board member and volunteer

Stay safe this summer: Readying yourself for a road trip

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

With summer approaching, our family’s favorite activity is taking road trips. We are so blessed to be in Northern Ohio since we can find awesome destinations no matter which direction we head.

However, despite all the choices, the one thing I’ve learned is that you need to be prepared for emergencies. The “it won’t happen to me” syndrome is a risky one, and who needs the guilt of knowing better but not taking precautions?

Getting ready

I’m a nut for lists. For years, I’ve been using spreadsheets (either Excel or Google Sheets). I’ll make a master list, and at the end of each trip, I’ll add whatever items that we should have taken. Then when the next road trip comes up, we won’t forget that item a second time. I’ve been keeping them for years, and my lists cover just about anything we could need. We don’t take every item on every trip by any means but at least we forget very, very little.

One item we always pack, and fortunately have only needed a few times, is a First Aid kit. I’ve actually got multiple ones that vary in size for my bike bag, my backpack and the car. While I’ve been a pretty safe person, there have been numerous times we’ve been able to come to the rescue of others, who weren’t quite so prepared.

Another lesson I learned in an American Red Cross Safe Driving course is to adjust your rearview mirrors out farther than most people do. Basically, while sitting behind the steering wheel, lean as far left as comfortable, and then set your left rearview mirror so you can just barely see the left fender of your car. Then lean right as far as comfortable and set your right mirror the same way. That radically improves your chances of not hitting someone in your blind spot. I know it’s saved me at least four times.

Lastly, get enough sleep before you set out on a long road trip. When I haven’t done that, the instant I feel myself getting drowsy, I’ll find a place to pull over and try to take a quick nap. I set my alarm on my watch for 15 minutes, and that’s a perfect time to be refreshed enough to drive another couple of hours. Any longer than 15 minutes is too long (strange sleep science).

For more information

The American Red Cross just issued a 20 Steps to Help You Stay Safe this Summer article for road trips, swimming, backyard grilling and camping. Item number 18 is definitely one that could save your life. Then enroll in a Red Cross first aid and CPR/AED course, either online or in person.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, Red Cross volunteer

Posted by Ryan Lang, Red Cross Board Member and volunteer

On behalf of a grateful nation – Mike’s Memorial Day message

By Mike Parks, Rear Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard (Ret.), Regional CEO, American Red Cross Northern Ohio Region

Next Monday, as we celebrate Memorial Day, we will honor those men and women of our Armed Forces who paid the ultimate sacrifice so that we may enjoy our everyday freedoms.  As I was reflecting on this special day, I recalled my recent attendance earlier this month at the funeral of a dear Coast Guard friend of over 40 years.  The funeral, replete with military honors, included a gun salute, the playing of “Taps”, the ceremonial folding of the American flag, and the presentation of “the colors” to the family. 

I don’t know about you, but every time I hear those 24 somber notes of “Taps” played, I feel my emotions well up inside me.  “Taps” is not a song but a bugle call.  Although there are no official associated lyrics, Horace Lorenzo Trim is often credited with a set of words intended to accompany the music.  Here are just the first of his five stanzas:

“Day is done, gone the sun,
From the lake, from the hills, from the sky;
All is well, safely rest, God is nigh.”

Yes, I found myself wiping away tears as the last note was played.  After “Taps” was finished, two members of the Coast Guard Honor Guard approached the casket to begin the ceremonial folding of the American flag, which had been carefully draped over the casket so the union blue field was at the head and over the left shoulder of my friend.  With exacting precision, these two young servicemembers carefully folded the flag into the symbolic tri-cornered shape, representing the three-sided hats worn by our troops during the Revolutionary War.  Our nation’s “colors” were folded 13 times on the triangles, representing the 13 original colonies. 

Annual Memorial Day Ceremony, Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery

Having personally performed this important ritual in my career, I can attest to the solemnity of the event.  It struck me as I stood at attention, that this ceremony is conducted by every service of the Armed Forces numerous times throughout our country every single day in tribute to the fallen and in support of their loved ones.  The words “…On behalf of a grateful nation…” must never be taken for granted as we take a few moments out of our busy lives to remember and thank those who have given their all so that we may live in freedom—it’s the least we can do.  This Memorial Day, let us all take time to remember those who have gone before us and those who have received the American flag “…On behalf of a grateful nation.”    

Once the flag was perfectly folded, it was given by the Honor Guard to the senior Coast Guard officer to present to the next-of-kin, in this case my friend’s lovely wife of 44 years.  She was surrounded by her six grown children as the officer knelt to present her with the folded American flag as a keepsake.  He then said to her, “On behalf of the President of the United States, the United States Coast Guard, and a grateful Nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one’s honorable and faithful service.”

Having personally performed this important ritual in my career, I can attest to the solemnity of the event.  It struck me as I stood at attention, that this ceremony is conducted by every service of the Armed Forces numerous times throughout our country every single day in tribute to the fallen and in support of their loved ones.  The words “…On behalf of a grateful nation…” must never be taken for granted as we take a few moments out of our busy lives to remember and thank those who have given their all so that we may live in freedom—it’s the least we can do.  This Memorial Day, let us all take time to remember those who have gone before us and those who have received the American flag “…On behalf of a grateful nation.”    Best regards…Mike 

Sound the Alarm campaign installs more than 1,500 free smoke alarms in Northern Ohio

When people think of the American Red Cross responding to disasters, they often imagine the aftermath of a massive hurricane or deadly tornado. Trees uprooted and tossed aside, homes with missing roofs or destroyed by floodwaters. But it’s not the large-scale disasters that keep Red Cross volunteers busy day in and day out. Home fires are the most frequent disaster in the country, claiming seven lives every day in the U.S. In Northern Ohio, the Red Cross responds to more than three home fires, on average, every 24 hours.

As part of the national Sound the Alarm campaign, Red Cross staff, volunteers and community partners set aside specific weeks throughout the year to focus on educating residents about home fire safety and installing free smoke alarms where they are needed. From April 22 to May 12 staff and volunteers in northern Ohio, in partnership with local fire departments, held Sound the Alarm events in 11 communities across the region. They included:

  • Sandusky
  • Uhrichsville
  • Cleveland
  • Medina
  • Hubbard
  • Warrensville
  • Toledo
  • Findlay
  • Henry County
  • Newcomerstown
  • Willoughby Hills

During these events, volunteers met with local families to install free smoke alarms, helped them create a two-minute fire escape plan and shared safety information on home fires and other local disaster risks. In Northern Ohio, more than 600 homes were made safer, with over 1,500 smoke alarms installed.

For those who do have smoke alarms, the Red Cross recommends testing smoke alarms each month and practicing your escape plan until everyone can get out in less than two minutes. It’s also important to teach children what smoke alarms sound like and what to do in an emergency.

While certain weeks of the year are designated as Sound the Alarm events, the Red Cross is working every day to help prepare communities for disasters like home fires.  If you or someone you know needs smoke alarms, visit the Sound the Alarm page to find out how to request an appointment with one of our teams. You can partner with the Red Cross and donate to this lifesaving work. Without the financial support of generous donors, the Sound the Alarm campaign would not be possible.

Check out more photos from our Sound the Alarm events on Flickr. Thank you to everyone who joined us this year and we look forward to seeing you all again soon at a Sound the Alarm event near you!

Water safety depends on swimming, lifesaving skills

May 15 is International Water Safety Day

By Eilene E. Guy, American Red Cross Volunteer

Those of us who live in northern Ohio are never very far from water: Lake Erie, swimming pools, ponds, reservoirs and rivers. Even water parks, hot tubs and spas.

All that water offers lots of opportunities for fun, but it also poses a very real – sometimes tragic – hazard.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some 4,000 people die of drowning every year in the United States. To put a finer point on it, drowning is the #1 cause of accidental death of children age 1 to 4.

The Bennett family of University Heights came harrowingly close to those statistics earlier this year. While on vacation, their four-year-old found her way into a backyard pool and was discovered unconscious at the bottom.

Fortunately, her 15-year-old sister, Ayala, had completed an American Red Cross lifeguarding, first aid and CPR course just two weeks earlier. She was able to perform CPR until medical help arrived and the little girl recovered.

Ayala Bennett, flanked by her father Josh and mother Raizel

For her lifesaving action, Ayala received the Red Cross Certificate of Merit, the highest award given by the Red Cross to people who save or sustain a life using skills learned in a Red Cross course. The Red Cross also recognized Shira Goldsmith of Goldsmith Swim School, who taught Ayala’s lifesaving class. “It made me feel so good, that she was able to save her sister,” Shira said. “It made me think, this is why I do what I do.”

Shira was just a teenager herself when she realized there weren’t enough lifeguards to safely supervise children in backyard pools in her neighborhood, so she got trained. “I did my first rescue at 15,” she recalled. She’ll never forget the rush of adrenaline and the overwhelming relief of success.

Shira Goldsmith, Goldsmith Swim School

Passionate about water safety, Shira teaches swimming as well as lifeguarding, first aid and CPR as a high school elective. She also has many students with special needs, African Americans and members of her Jewish faith.

“Even if you don’t know how to swim, learn CPR,” she emphasized. “You never know.”

The Red Cross certifies trainers like Shira as part of its mission to prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies.

As we mark International Water Safety Day, the Red Cross offers these reminders:
 Learn to swim competently and be sure your children do too! Go to RedCross.org/TakeAClass
 Swim as a pair near a lifeguard’s chair. Never swim alone.
 Reach or throw, don’t go. Don’t enter the water to rescue someone unless you’re trained.
 Look before you leap. Be sure it’s a safe place and time to swim.
 Follow the rules. Listen to the lifeguards.
 Don’t just pack it. Wear that life jacket.
 Think so you don’t sink. Floating or treading water can help you make good decisions.
 Don’t fool with a pool or spa: Fence it with self-latching gates.
 Download the American Red Cross Swim app for more tips and tools for water safety for the whole family.

The American Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to deliver its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or CruzRojaAmericana.org, or follow us on Twitter at @RedCross.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Posted by Ryan Lang, Red Cross board member and volunteer

Committed to helping those who serve

May is Military Appreciation Month

By Tim Poe, American Red Cross volunteer

As American Red Cross volunteers and staff members, we have been honored to work alongside several veterans, some of whom we have had the honor of featuring on this blog. In addition to the values of service, commitment, and being part of an effective team, they speak of the importance of Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces (SAF). SAF has been vital during their military careers and as veterans, often leading them to join the Red Cross themselves.

Contributing authors and those profiled include Cynthia Skidmore, Brinton Lincoln, Chiane Martin, Dave Riegler, Brook Harless, Sally Falasca, Paul Svasta and of course the CEO of the American Red Cross Northern Ohio Region and Rear Admiral, US Coast Guard (Retired), Mike Parks.

May is Military Appreciation Month and May 20th is Armed Forces Day. The Red Cross has been committed to assisting military members, veterans, and their families since its inception in 1881. Services include emergency financial assistance, counseling, and support for veterans.

One of the most important roles is providing emergency communication services. Whether a natural disaster, family illness, or other crises, members of the Red Cross help connect military families. Speaking personally as a member of an extended military family, I have often seen the effectiveness of these services in bringing relatives home when needed.

Pre-deployment event at Youngstown Air Reserve Station

Military families receive support to help cope with the challenges of military life, such as frequent moves, deployments, and separations. One very popular program is animal visitation.

Additional Red Cross services help improve the well-being of service members, veterans, and military families. These include reconnection workshops to help adjust to post-deployment life, and military hospital programs to provide comfort and support to wounded service members and their families.

For Military Appreciation Month, please join us in thanking military members, veterans, and military families for their service. Please also consider helping support them through volunteering with the Red Cross or providing a donation.

SAF volunteer roles include:

  • Delivering critical emergency messages through the Red Cross Hero Care Network.
  • For both medical and non-medical volunteers, providing patient comfort and care for injured service members and their families.
  • For mental health professionals, leading free resiliency workshops for military families in need.

You can get more information about how you can volunteer to help members of the military, veterans and their families here.

Posted by Ryan Lang, Red Cross board member and volunteer

Bringing help and hope: Volunteer nurses find sharing their skills rewarding

Honoring professional healthcare volunteers during National Nurses Week

By: Kelly C. McClure, MLS, BSN, RN, American Red Cross volunteer

What does a disaster look like? There’s no rough blueprint or an all-encompassing definition for the word, but for those who have lost everything in a fire, flood, earthquake, or hurricane, it can look like complete despair. In the United States alone, a disaster occurs approximately every eight minutes. Stretched out, that’s more than 60,000 disasters each year that the American Red Cross will deploy volunteers to help victims by supplying clean water, food and shelter. But what happens when there are physical injuries, wounds or medical conditions that need immediate attention? The Red Cross’ team of volunteer nurses are there to help.

Beth Kartman-Orgel, RN, Red Cross volunteer

The volunteer nurse corps for the Red Cross include an amazing team of registered nurses (RNs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs), licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) and nurse practitioners (NPs) who undergo many hours of training to become Service Associates (SAs) with the Red Cross’ Disaster Health Services. In addition to learning first aid, providing care at a shelter, psychological first aid, mass casualty education and deployment training, they also learn how to reunify families that have been separated. Once deployed, they not only provide physical assessments of injured victims who may need to be transported to a hospital for a higher level of care but also provide valuable health care education to victims.

One of the many dedicated nurses in the volunteer nurse corps is registered
nurse, Beth Kartman-Orgel, who has been a nurse for 46 years and a volunteer nurse with the Red Cross for six. During this time, she has deployed to many disaster sites including several in Florida after hurricanes and some in California during wildfires.

“Being deployed is a whole lot different than being a regular nurse,” Beth said. “You need to be able to think on your feet, make do with little to no equipment or support and, at times, without electricity, running water or supervisors because there is no internet or phone service.”

Any nurse will tell you that each day brings with it a whole new set of challenges. However, as a volunteer nurse in the Red Cross, those challenges look somewhat different.

“I love the challenges we face on deployments — the different ethnicities,
languages, and belief systems among staff and clients,” she explained. “I always loved camping, so showering in a truck, washing at a sink with bottled water, if need be, using flashlights to make rounds or give meds or change dressings is all in a day’s work.” Undoubtedly, Beth loves what she does for the Red Cross and has also completed Disaster Health Services supervisor training, which she hopes to utilize on her next deployment.

Deploying to a disaster area after a hurricane or wildfire isn’t the only way nurses can be involved with the Red Cross. Registered nurse, Cindy Russo, has been a volunteer with the Red Cross for 30 years and began her journey in Blood Donor Services at blood drives. Here, she completed donor registrations and medical histories and obtained blood pressure and hemoglobin tests before blood donation. In more recent years, Cindy has predominantly worked in Disaster Health Services, assisting victims after home fires to obtain new prescriptions for their medications and necessary medical equipment like wheelchairs, walkers and oxygen machines. In the past, Cindy has also deployed to regions affected by hurricanes and has even helped install smoke alarms in local homes. After 30 years of volunteering, she has found the work to be extremely rewarding.

“Helping those in a time of need is the most rewarding part,” she said. “It is a great extension of what many nurses do every day and is a way to use their skills and talents to help others.”

If you’re a nurse and want to volunteer with the Red Cross, browse through the listings of volunteer opportunities and complete an online volunteer application.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, Red Cross volunteer
Posted by Ryan Lang, Red Cross board member and volunteer

Severe weather safety tips to help you stay safe

By Samantha Pudelski, American Red Cross volunteer

Warmer weather will be arriving in Northern Ohio…eventually! We’ll be swapping snowstorms for thunderstorms and rain. While our region doesn’t experience hurricanes (this is the beginning of hurricane preparedness week), our area does experience severe storms that can bring tornadoes or flash flooding. Before severe weather strikes, refresh your severe safety knowledge with these tips from the American Red Cross.

April 5, 2023. Wynne, Arkansas. The tornado that struck Wynne, caused extensive damage to scores of homes in the town. Photo by Kevin Suttlehan/American Red Cross

Before Storms Strike:

  • Identify a sturdy building that you can take shelter in. A sturdy building has walls and a foundation.
  • Ideally, the building should have a basement, or a small, interior room without windows on the lowest level of the building.
  • Mobile, manufactured, trailer homes and recreational vehicles (RVs) are not safe in high winds.
  • If you reside in one of these structures, make sure to identify a building nearby that you can take shelter in quickly.
  • Hold practice drills with everyone in your household to make sure everyone knows what to do and where to go before a storm hits.
  • Sign up for free emergency weather alerts from your local government or weather service.
  • In case there is a power outage, make sure to have a backup battery to charge your cell phone and a battery-powered radio.
  • Know the different types of weather alerts:
    Severe thunderstorm watch: Means severe weather is possible in the area. Be prepared to act fast.
    Severe thunderstorm warning: Means a severe thunderstorm is in the area and to take action to get to safety.
    Tornado watch: Means tornadoes are possible in the area. Be prepared to act fast.
    Tornado warning: Means a tornado is near, and you must take immediate action to get to a safe location.
    Flood watch: Means that flooding is possible in the area.
    Flood warning: Means flooding is forthcoming or currently happening in the warning area.
    Flash floods warning: Means that a flash flood is imminent or currently happening. It is even possible that a flash flood can occur in an area not immediately receiving rain.

When Storms Are Predicted in Your Area or Currently Happening

  • Look for storm signs such as darkening skies, lightning flashes and windy conditions. If you hear thunder, head indoors. Once you can hear thunder, the storm is close enough to be in danger of lightning strikes.
  • If a severe thunderstorm warning is issued in the area, take shelter in a substantial building.
  • Mobile homes can blow over in high winds.
  • Keep away from windows.
  • Don’t take a bath, shower or use plumbing.
  • Avoid using electrical equipment and telephones.
  • If you are driving, try to find a way to safely pull off the road and park. Stay in your vehicle until the heavy rain ends. Turn on your emergency flashers so other vehicles can see you.
  • If you are outside and are not able to seek shelter in a building or car, avoid high ground, water, tall or isolated trees and metal objects. Sheds, picnic shelters, dugouts and metal objects, like bleachers, are not safe places to seek shelter.
  • If someone is struck by lightning, call 911 immediately. If someone sustains a lightning strike they need professional medical care. Check the individual for burns and other injuries. If they stop breathing, begin CPR immediately. It’s safe to touch them, as individuals struck by lightning do not retain an electrical charge.
April 5, 2023. Wynne, Arkansas. Red Cross volunteer Don Baker surveys tornado damage to homes in Wynne, AR. Photo by Kevin Suttlehan/American Red Cross

Tornado Safety

If a tornado warning is announced for the area you are in:

  • Move to the lowest level of your home or a sturdy building, ideally a basement. If you aren’t able to move to a lower level, find a small interior room with no windows.
  • Mobile, manufacturer, trailer homes and RVs are not safe in the event of a tornado or high winds.
  • Monitor local weather and news on your phone or radio.

    When Flooding is Predicted or Seen
  • Turn around, don’t drown! Stay off the roads and do not attempt to drive through a flooded portion of the road. Just six inches of fast-moving water can knock you over, and most vehicles can be swept away by less than two feet of water.
  • If you are caught on a flooded road and the waters are rising around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground.
  • Tune in to your local radio or news for the latest weather updates.
  • If your area is a risk flood area, prepare to evacuate quickly in the case it becomes necessary.
  • Follow your local officials direction if you are asked to evacuate.
  • Stay away from flooded areas, as they may contain snakes, insects and other animals. Keep children and pets away from these areas.

    For more information on weather safety and about volunteer opportunities to help those affected by severe weather, visit https://www.redcross.org/local/ohio/northern-ohio.html.

    Edited by Glenda Bogar, Red Cross volunteer
    Posted by Ryan Lang, Red Cross board member and volunteer

Saluting lab techs – vital in blood supply chain

By Eilene E. Guy, American Red Cross volunteer

Patient safety is the number one priority for the blood services arm (no pun intended) of the American Red Cross.

The Red Cross collects about 40% of our nation’s blood supply from donors like me – and you, I hope. We give this lifesaving liquid freely, so it’s available as soon as someone – usually someone we don’t even know – needs it to treat an illness or traumatic injury, or for replacement during surgery.

Blood that’s meant for transfusion must be free from anything that could harm a patient. That includes a host of foreign substances like viruses, bacteria or parasites.

Celeste Dean-El, who heads the Red Cross Immunohematology Reference Lab (IRL) in Cleveland, said blood also has inherited characteristics that could trigger a bad reaction, or enhance its benefit, in a recipient.

That’s where laboratory technicians come in, she said. Lab techs test every unit of donated blood, to be sure it’s wholesome and robust, and to identify unique components that will make a given unit a match for a transfusion recipient.

Most of us know our inherited blood group: A, B or O, positive or negative. Getting the wrong ABO match could kill a patient, Celeste said. But our blood also has what’s called an Rh protein; getting that match wrong could make a patient very, very sick.

Lab technician Paul Kopin and Celeste Dean-El, Director of the Immunohematology Reference Lab for the Red Cross of Northern Ohio

Lab technicians also perform specialized tests to unearth even more unique inherited characteristics that – if properly matched – will enhance the benefit and safety of a transfusion.

Celeste offered an example: A man from Ohio’s Amish community needed treatment recently after a serious injury. Lab techs isolated an antibody in his blood that made his type so rare that compatible units would only be found in others of his community. Based on that information, the Red Cross recruited donors from that group to find “matches” that would boost his recovery.

“Transfusions are the most important and most common treatments in hospitals,” Celeste said, listing things like leukemia and lymphoma – diseases that can cause very low blood counts in patients.

Or take sickle cell disease, an inherited blood disorder. A patient – typically someone of African descent – will need regular transfusions of the blood component hemoglobin to supplement her blood’s ability to carry oxygen. Lab techs can test for antigens in each patient’s blood to make the transfusion impact as strong as possible or, in some cases, avoid life-threatening transfusion reactions.

Lab technicians are positioned at a critical point in the blood supply chain, so their training and certification is demanding: two to four years of specialized education and internship. “Experience in the lab is vital,” Celeste said. To work in her IRL takes another one to two years of highly complex training.

The Red Cross salutes Medical Laboratory Professionals Week, April 23 through 29, to recognize the vital work lab techs perform for our blood supply.

“Everything we do is for the safety of the recipients,” Celeste said.

To be part of this lifesaving service, sign up to donate blood at redcrossblood.org. Because “help can’t wait.”

Corporate leader sees results, lends his time and experience

By Eilene E. Guy, American Red Cross Volunteer

Jim Wilkins has responsibilities 24/7 as senior vice president for health, environment, safety and security at Marathon Petroleum headquarters in Findlay.

So how can he — why does he — carve out time to volunteer for the American Red Cross?

“When (Marathon has) an incident or experiences a natural disaster, my team provides critical assets, expertise and personnel during our response, which can include supporting our employees and their families with food, housing, supplies and fuel,” Jim said. “Some of my most rewarding experiences with the company have been on scene, supporting recovery after (hurricanes) Katrina and Ian.”

He’s seen first-hand what Red Cross does in the wake of disasters, whether natural or human-related. Volunteers rally to provide shelter, food, financial assistance for immediate needs, and health and mental health support.

“Our company has had a close relationship with the Red Cross,” Jim said. “We donate money to the Red Cross. . . . We see the results of what they do.”

Jim volunteers as co-chair of Marathon’s veterans’ network, where he learned how Red Crossers can serve the U.S. military, active and retired, and their families. And, of course, “I always thought of Red Cross as blood.”

During the upswing of the COVID pandemic, he agreed to join the volunteer ranks of the North Central Ohio chapter.

“Jim is a vital member of our board of directors, offering his leadership, guidance and experience to help our team deliver the Red Cross mission,” said the chapter’s executive director Todd James.

“Along with his personal passion for our work, Jim has also helped build on our strong partnership with Marathon Petroleum Corporation, creating even more opportunities for our teams to work together to serve those who need Red Cross services.”

Jim takes any opportunity he can to “tout all the great services offered by Red Cross” But he often finds it’s not necessary “since Red Cross is like Coke: Everybody recognizes the brand. It sells itself.”

The rewards of volunteering have certainly sold themselves to Jim. He’s currently the board vice president and head of the philanthropy committee.

“Our chapter is fortunate to have Jim on our leadership team and we truly appreciate his service,” Todd said.

During National Volunteer Week, the Red Cross salutes its more than 275,000 volunteers who respond to disasters, support our armed forces, teach health, safety and disaster preparedness classes, augment the blood collection staff, and educate youth and adults about International Humanitarian Law.

To explore the many flexible volunteer opportunities Red Cross has to offer, visit redcross.org/volunteer.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, Red Cross volunteer

Posted by Ryan Lang, Red Cross board member and volunteer