Volunteer nurses contribute mightily to Red Cross disaster response

They help people affected by disaster in numerous ways

Laverne Nerlich got the call Saturday morning, July 27.

Recently retired, and an empty nester, Laverne decided to offer her skills and experience as a disaster nurse to the American Red Cross as a volunteer.  She received training and was assigned to be on-call.

Fire in an apartment building in Parma Heights had forced dozens of residents to flee their homes the night before.  Her services as a disaster health worker were needed to help the people who had been displaced.

It was her first day on the job.


Laverne Nerlich and Rosanne Radziewicz console residents of the Camelot Aparrtments

Laverne and her fellow disaster health worker, Rosanne Radziewicz, approached dozens of people who were filing into the nearby Greenbrier Middle School building,  where the Red Cross had set-up shop.  Disaster workers were offering financial assistance to folks who were suddenly homeless.  Laverne and Rosanne were offering to help refill prescription medications that were left behind when the fire alarms sounded.  They were also helping residents replace eyeglasses, oxygen concentrators, and other durable medical equipment.  But perhaps most importantly, they were offering a sympathetic ear and, in some cases, a shoulder to cry on.


Camelot Apartments resident Paula Krych was one of many people assisted by the Red Cross the day after fire chased her from her home

“Being forced to leave your home because the building is on fire is a very traumatic experience,” said Tim O’Toole, Regional Disaster Officer for the Red Cross.  “People need help with some very basic necessities that we often take for granted.  That’s why our disaster health workers are so vital to a response of this magnitude.”

It’s wonderful to be part of a hands-on organization that does so much for people when they need it,” said Rosanne.  “I wanted to be able to give help to people after I retired.”

The Red Cross can only provide help to people when they need it when volunteers like Rosanne and Laverne offer their time and talent.  To learn more about the many ways you can be a part of the world’s largest humanitarian organization, visit RedCross.org/volunteer, or call 216-431-3328.

As of Thursday, August 1, 90 residents of the Camelot Apartments on Huffman Road had received Red Cross assistance.



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