Red Cross urges Northeast Ohio residents to practice and prepare for future disasters

COVID-19 social distancing measures provide opportunity to be prepared

 By Eric Alves, Regional Communications Specialist, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio

March 23, 2020 — As individuals and families remain at home at a higher rate due to the COVID-19 outbreak and social distancing measures, the American Red Cross is urging all Northeast Ohio residents to take the time to prepare for future disasters.

Sound the Alarm Event in Capitol Heights, Maryland 2019

Here are some safety tips to practice and follow while everyone is home together:

Home Fire Safety

Home Fire Save Story Birmingham, Alabama 2019

  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas.
  • Test smoke alarms every month. If they’re not working, change the batteries.
  • Talk with all family members about a home fire escape plan, make sure everyone has two exits out of every room.
  • Practice your fire escape plan and have everyone meet at the designated safe location. Make sure everyone escapes in two minutes or less.

Flood Safety

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Tornado Safety

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  • Talk about tornadoes with your family so that everyone knows where to go if a tornado warning is issued.
  • Ensure you have access to NOAA Radio broadcasts.
  • Prepare a pet emergency kit for your furry friends.

Thunderstorm Safety

  • Discuss thunderstorm safety and lightning safety with all members of your household.
  • Pick a safe place in your home for household members to gather during a thunderstorm. This should be away from windows, skylights and glass doors.
  • Make a list of items to bring inside in the event of a severe thunderstorm.

Sound the Alarm Event in Capitol Heights, Maryland 2019

Visit redcross.org to learn more emergency preparedness tips to ensure you and your family are Red Cross ready. Be sure to download the free Red Cross mobile apps, available in the Apple App Store or Google Play, for tools and preparedness information you need every day.

Volunteers continue to provide Red Cross disaster health services during coronavirus outbreak

By Renee Palagyi, Senior Disaster Program Manager

It seems that all we hear of late is “COVID-19,” and many wonder if it has taken the place of our normal American Red Cross activities. It has NOT! Residents experiencing fires continue to be assisted both on scene and in follow-up casework.

I am taking a moment today to emphasize the work being done by our incredible Disaster Health Services team. This group of volunteer nurses—most of whom are still employed full-time in roles ranging from pediatrics to geriatric nurse practitioner—continue to help our disaster clients who have lost medications, durable medical equipment, glasses, etc. We have new graduates, retirees and everyone in between, each bringing his or her personal gift of nursing knowledge and caring to bear through remote client contact.

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Renee Palagyi

Beginning March 14, several members of the team took on an additional task of “Disaster Action Team (DAT) Responder Screening.” Each responder in the Northeast Ohio region was called and asked a series of questions, provided guidelines on increased virus risk based on certain medical conditions and asked if they were still willing to continue to respond to clients in need. The professional approach of our nurses helped allay fears while providing solid information based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

Not surprising, but certainly incredibly gratifying, was the response we received from those volunteers screened. Overwhelmingly, in fact, approximately 90% stated their willingness to continue as DAT responders in the face of this pandemic. The majority of those not able to respond during this crisis were screened out by our nurses for medical reasons, not by their fears of becoming ill. They noted they felt reassured by the client screening process we have in place and the knowledge that Red Cross has at heart the well-being of our strongest asset, our volunteers.

We are all in this for the long haul, and I am pleased to lead this team of dedicated nurses who continue to give their time despite their own increased work and personal demands.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

My first attempt to donate blood

By Samantha Pudelski, American Red Cross volunteer

Editors note: The American Red Cross now faces a severe blood shortage due to an unprecedented number of blood drive cancellations during this coronavirus outbreak.  Through March 17, nearly 4,000 Red Cross blood drives have been canceled across the country due to coronavirus concerns, resulting in more than 100,000 fewer blood donations. Healthy individuals are needed to donate now to help patients counting on lifesaving blood.

March 18, 2020- You’ve seen the advertisements and signs before—the ones that list upcoming American Red Cross blood drives in your area. You may drive past the sign on your way home or see something about a local drive on your social media feed. Like many people, I am not fond of needles. This is why for many years I went without donating blood.

This year, I was determined to put my nerves aside to take part in my first blood drive. I found a local site and signed up for a time slot, hoping that scheduling an appointment would help avoid any lines. When I arrived, there were several people donating and several more getting their screenings completed.

Blood bank Campaign ceremony 2017

Laurie Brungeau giving blood during the launch of the Haitian Red Cross blood collection center in Port-au-Prince. The Haitian Red Cross suffered serious damage during the earthquake, but thanks to their hard work–and capacity-building investments from partners like the American Red Cross — they have stregthened and become more sustainable over the years. Photo: Garry Calixte/American Red Cross

After registering and completing my pre-screening, it was time to donate. The nurse asked me which arm I prefer, to which I answered, “Whichever arm that you can find a vein.” The nurse asked me if I have had trouble with nurses finding my veins in the past. They have but I didn’t think that would be an issue for donating. These volunteers do this regularly and are pros, right?

While the nurses at the donation site were, in fact, seasoned experts, the two nurses who checked still had trouble finding a viable vein to use in my arm. Out of caution for my well-being, they told me I wasn’t able to donate. I was incredibly disappointed that of all reasons to be turned away as a donor, it was my lack of a viable vein!

Blood Drive New York 2018

This experience showed me just how important it is for those who can donate blood to do so. After sharing my experience with a few friends, I learned that many of them had similar experiences. From my friends and the nurses at the blood drive, I learned a few best practices I wanted to share for those looking to donate:

  • Drink lots of water before you donate – the day before and the day of your donation.
  • Avoid caffeine to avoid detracting from #1.
  • The magic number for your iron level is 12.5. They test this before you actually start your donation to make sure you have the minimum level.
  • Complete the RapidPass online before you donate to save time at the blood donation location. This contains the pre-donation packet reading and health history questions donors need to complete.
  • Bring some music or reading when you donate. It only takes 8-10 minutes to do the actual blood donation but having something to do can help pass the time, especially if you are nervous.

Knowing these things, I plan to go back again soon to see if I can donate. I hope my story encourages you to donate as well.

Blood Drive, Fairfax, Virginia 2018

Currently, there is an urgent need for blood due to the Coronavirus outbreak. Right now, eligible and healthy donors are strongly urged to make an appointment to give soon. To schedule an appointment and for information on enhanced blood donation safety related to Coronavirus, visit: https://www.redcrossblood.org.

For those who can’t donate, the Red Cross offers volunteer opportunities to support  blood drives. You can learn more about these at: https://www.redcross.org/local/ohio/northeast/volunteer.html.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Northeast Ohio Region weekend disaster report: March 13-15, 2020

By Eric Alves, Regional Communications Specialist, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio

March 16, 2020- While residents in Northeast Ohio were taking precautions to remain safe from the coronavirus, members of the American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio Disaster Action Team were assisting residents facing the worst day of their lives, as disasters do not adhere to social distancing measures.

During the weekend of March 13-15, the DAT team responded to disasters in four of the five chapters of the Northeast Ohio Region, with disasters occurring in Columbiana, Cuyahoga, Erie, Lake, Richland, Stark and Trumbull counties.

The Red Cross assisted 32 adults, 29 children and provided $12,460 in immediate financial assistance.

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While we all take extraordinary steps to contain the coronavirus, the Red Cross is asking all healthy individuals to donate blood, to help maintain the nation’s blood supply as blood drives across the country continue to be cancelled.

Over the last few days, we have seen blood drive cancellations grow at an alarming rate. Through March 13, about 1,500 Red Cross blood drives have been canceled across the country due to coronavirus concerns, resulting in some 46,000 fewer blood donations. We expect that number to rise.

We understand why people may be hesitant to come out for a blood drive, but want to reassure the public that we are taking additional precautions to ensure the safety of our donors and staff.

Monroe Carell Jr Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, Nashville, Tennessee 2019

We are checking the temperature of staff and donors before entering a drive to make sure they are healthy. Hand sanitizers are available for use before entering the drive, as well as throughout the donation process. We are also spacing beds, where possible, to follow social distancing practices between blood donors.

Red Cross employees follow strict safety procedures, including wearing gloves and changing them often, wiping down all donor-touched surfaces and equipment and preparing the arm for donation with an aseptic scrub.

A blood shortage could impact patients who need surgery, victims of car accidents and other emergencies, or patients suffering from cancer. One of the most important things you can do to ensure we don’t have another health care crisis on top of the coronavirus is to give blood.

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If you are healthy, feeling well and eligible to give blood or platelets, please make an appointment to donate as soon as possible by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Greater Cleveland Heroes – 2020

Breakfast ceremony held at the Global Center for Health Innovation

By Jim McIntyre, American Red Cross

March 13, 2020- Nine people and one Labradoodle were honored at the 2020 Greater Cleveland Hero Awards breakfast on Thursday, March 12, at the Global Center for Health Innovation in Cleveland. And Ronn Richard, the President and CEO of the Cleveland Foundation was recognized at the Community Leader Award winner.

Read more about the Hero honorees, and the events that led to the recognition below:

  • Sixteen-year-old Elise Kilmer of Burton was in her room with her Labradoodle Saige last November, when suddenly, Saige began to bark continuously. When Elise opened her door, Saige bounded down the stairs to the kitchen. Elise followed, and found her grandmother lying on the floor unresponsive. Elise recalled her American Red Cross training, and applied it during this critical situation. First, she called 9-1-1. Then, she checked for a pulse and began performing CPR, continuing until medical personnel arrived. Her grandmother credits Elise with saving her life. Elise is also a Red Cross-trained lifeguard.  She was also presented with a Certificate of Merit, the highest award the American Red Cross offers to someone who used their Red Cross training to save a life. Watch Elise’s story here.
Elise Kilmer

Elise Kilmer

  • Cleveland Heights Police Officer Josh Robertson, the first to arrive at the scene of a home fire in July, was told by a distressed mother that her 6-year-old son was trapped inside. Disregarding the heavy smoke inside the home, and without the benefit of any protective clothing or equipment, Robertson pushed his way into the home and crawled on the floor in an effort to find the boy. He couldn’t see the child, but he heard the sound of moaning and followed it until he felt the boy, grabbing him by his clothes and dragging the child to safety, despite being overcome by smoke. He and the child survived. Watch Josh’s story here.
Josh Robertson

Josh Robertson with Regional CEO Mike Parks and Greater Cleveland Chapter Board of Directors Chairman Chris Mapes

  • Sandra Patrick of KeyBank has played a crucial role in helping meet the demand for blood, which is vital to the survival of hospital patients undergoing surgery, cancer treatment and other medical conditions. Patrick has organized blood drives at two KeyBank office locations for more than 10 years, and she has been instrumental in increasing sponsorship and participation. She is currently the point of contact with the Red Cross for 12 different blood drives, and recently expanded the drives to include other building tenants. Beyond her management of blood drives, Patrick has also recruited other KeyBank employees to help with Sound the Alarm, the Red Cross initiative to save lives by installing free smoke alarms. Watch Sandra’s story here.
Sandra Patrick

Sandra Patrick

  • On the morning of Thursday, Sept. 19, a Jack Casino surveillance team member was working when he went into full cardiac arrest. Within a minute, coworker Charles Fuller called for assistance and began administering CPR. Less than a minute later, security training instructor Jacqueline Duthie arrived to assist, and within a minute of that, security manager Hassan Ali arrived with an AED. It was the first time he had been called to use the lifesaving device since receiving CPR/AED training four years earlier. Fuller, Duthie and Ali continued to provide medical attention until paramedics arrived. The stricken coworker survived, and doctors confirmed that without the immediate lifesaving response, the outcome most likely would have been much different. Watch Charles, Jacqueline and Hassan’s story here.
JACK Casino Heroes

Charles Fuller, Jacqueline Duthie and Hassan Ali

  • Amanda Berry endured one of the most horrific experiences imaginable, being held captive for 10 years after being kidnapped at age 16. But she never lost hope, and 10 years later, she and her toddler daughter escaped their prison, and helped lead two other female captives to freedom as well. Since that time, Berry has dedicated her life to raising her daughter, and to help find missing persons who may be experiencing the same horrors she did. She appears on Fox 8 News, looking into a camera, describing those who have gone missing, and asking viewers for help finding them. Berry is not a trained broadcaster or news reporter, but she fearlessly puts herself out there to help others, because she genuinely cares about them, even though they are strangers. She knows they all have family members who are awaiting their return—just as her family members did. Despite her traumatic past, Berry is making the most of her present, and is looking forward to a bright future for herself, her daughter and others she may have a role in helping return home. Watch Amanda’s story here.
Amanda Barry

Amanda Berry

  • Nine-year-old Troy Cavadas of Columbia Station was watching his dad try to burn a tree stump with kerosene outside their home in early November when fuel splashed on them both, setting their clothes on fire. Troy had just learned how to stop, drop and roll at school less than a month earlier. He didn’t panic and was able to put the flames out on his clothing. He then yelled, “Roll, Daddy, roll, roll!” But the fire kept growing. Troy then grabbed a garden hose and soaked his dad with water until the flames went out. Firefighters call Troy a hero.
  • Part two of this hero story involves the firefighter who taught Troy the fire safety skills that helped save him and his dad. Columbia Township volunteer firefighter Brett Wilson visited Troy’s school just one week before the 23-year-old firefighter lost his life trying to help two people involved in a car crash. Wilson was electrocuted after coming into contact with a downed power line. Troy’s father, Jed, credits Wilson with saving his life. Brett’s parents, Barb and Gary Wilson, accepted the award on behalf of their hero son. Watch Troy and Brett’s story here.
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Troy Cavadas and Brett Wilson’s parents Barb and Gary accepting the award from Regional CEO Mike Parks and Greater Cleveland Chapter Board of Directors Chairman Chris Mapes

 

Ronn Richard’s Community Leader Award was presented by Regional Red Cross CEO Mike Parks, and Chris Mapes, President and CEO of Lincoln Electric and Chairman of the Red Cross of Greater Cleveland.

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Ronn Richard accepting the Community Leader Award from Mike Parks and Chris Mapes

The event was hosted by long-time Cleveland television journalist Denise Dufala.

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Denise Dufala with Chris Mapes

To nominate a hero for the next Hero Awards, complete the online form.

Visit our Flickr page to view more photos from the 2020 Greater Cleveland Chapter Heroes and Community Leader Award.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Healthy blood donors needed amid coronavirus concerns

March 11, 2020- With confirmed coronavirus disease cases in Northeast Ohio and the state of Ohio declaring a state of emergency, and with schools across the region closed and events postponed due to precautions, the American Red Cross strongly urges healthy, eligible individuals who are feeling well to give blood or platelets to help maintain a sufficient blood supply and prevent shortages as concerns about the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19, rise in the U.S.

Cold and flu season has already impacted the nation’s ability to maintain its blood supply. As the number of coronavirus cases grows in the U.S., the number of people eligible to give blood for patients in need could decrease further.

“We’re asking the American people to help keep the blood supply stable during this challenging time. As communities across the country prepare for this public health emergency, it’s critical that plans include a readily available blood supply for hospital patients,” said Chris Hrouda, president, Red Cross Blood Services. “As fears of coronavirus rise, low donor participation could harm blood availability at hospitals, and the last thing a patient should worry about is whether lifesaving blood will be on the shelf when they need it most.”

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Donating blood is a safe process and people should not hesitate to give or receive blood. There are no data or evidence that this coronavirus can be transmissible by blood transfusion, and there have been no reported cases worldwide of transmissions for any respiratory virus, including this coronavirus, from a transfusion.

The Red Cross only collects blood from individuals who are healthy and feeling well at the time of donation – and who meet other eligibility requirements, available at RedCrossBlood.org. At each blood drive and donation center, Red Cross employees follow thorough safety protocols including wearing gloves, routinely wiping down donor-touched areas, using sterile collection sets for every donation, and preparing the arm for donation with an aseptic scrub. These mitigation measures will help ensure blood recipient safety, as well as staff and donor safety in reducing contact with those who may potentially have this respiratory infection.

Blood drive hosts play important role
Blood drive hosts also play a critical role in maintaining a sufficient blood supply and are asked to keep hosting blood drives for patients who rely on lifesaving blood. The need for blood is constant, and volunteer donors are the only source of blood for those in need of transfusions.

The Red Cross, with the help of its blood drive hosts and blood donors, can help ensure the safety and availability of the U.S. blood supply for patients including accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and those receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease.

“Keep giving, keep hosting blood drives,” said Hrouda. “Patients across the country need our help.”

To learn more about hosting a blood drive for patients in need, please visit RedCrossBlood.org.

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Red Cross committed to blood supply safety

The top priority of the Red Cross is the safety of our valued staff, blood donors and blood recipients, and we are committed to transparency with the American public during this evolving public health emergency. There are no data or evidence that this coronavirus can be transmissible by blood transfusion, and there have been no reported cases worldwide of transmissions for any respiratory virus including this coronavirus, from a transfusion.

Nonetheless, the Red Cross has implemented new blood donation deferrals out of an abundance of caution. Individuals are asked to postpone their donation for 28 days following:

  • Travel to China and its special administrative regions, Hong Kong and Macau, as well as Iran, Italy and South Korea;
  • Diagnosis of COVID-19, contact with a person who has or is suspected to have the virus.

As the situation evolves, the Red Cross will continue to evaluate all emerging risks in collaboration with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and industry partners to determine if additional intervention strategies are needed. Together, we stand ready to keep the American public informed and prepared.

Blood donation process

A blood donation takes about an hour from start to finish, but the actual donation itself only takes about 8-10 minutes. Donors can also save up to 15 minutes at the blood drive by completing a RapidPass®. With RapidPass®, donors complete the pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of donation, from a mobile device or computer. To complete a RapidPass®, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Red Cross Blood Donor App.

To donate blood, individuals need to bring a blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification that are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also must meet certain height and weight requirements.

 

Blood donations save newborn baby’s life

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A mother’s perspective and plea

By Lauren Hancharick, guest blogger

Camden was 3 weeks old when he received his blood transfusion Aug. 22, 2019. He spent 20 of his first 23 days of life in and out of the hospital three different times. Once he was discharged and readmitted into the same hospital two times, not including his birth, we were finally sent to University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital. He had many blood tests every day and by the time he reached 3 weeks old, his blood had reached dangerously low levels. I will never forget the wave of emotions that came over me when they came into the room and told me that.

Camden

My first question as his mother was “Can I donate?” That was when I was informed that I was not able to donate because of the cleaning process that the blood must go through, as well as the virus CMV that 90% of the population carries. I was completely at the mercy of some kind stranger to save my newborn son’s life.

Today Camden is 6 months old and living at home, instead of a hospital! He is the happiest baby I have ever met and loves to smile and laugh. He loves his milk, to roll, and to chew on anything and everything you will allow! Camden is doing very well. He is just being monitored. Receiving the blood transfusion seems to be the turning point in his illness.

I am unsure how you measure units of blood but at 3 weeks old, he received two full syringes of blood. (The very large ones put into the transfusion machine).

Camden’s illness completely rocked his family. He is the first grandchild on both sides of the family and the first great grandson on his father’s side. I stayed in the hospital with him the whole time he was there, and his dad stayed until he had to return to work. My husband had run out of time off, unfortunately. The rest of his family visited often.

Since then his mom will tell anyone who will listen about the importance of donating blood, for the babies! His mom and dad also have donated twice since things calmed down and plan to donate regularly for the rest of their lives.

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I always say “thank you,” with tears in my eyes to people who donate regularly. I hugged a total stranger at a blood drive the other day because I found out she was CMV negative and donates as much as possible. I also always tell people that it really makes a difference and that I wouldn’t have my son today if it wasn’t for a complete stranger’s kindness.

I have posted many times on social media to motivate people to donate. I always inform them that babies do not make blood for the first two to three weeks of their lives so any baby with illnesses at birth are at risk of needing a transfusion. I also include information about the CMV virus so they know only a very select few people who donate can actually have their blood given to a baby.

I believe most people think, “If someone I know needs it, I’ll donate” but it does NOT work that way. A completely anonymous donor has to have given at least a week before it is received so it can go through the very important process of cleaning and testing the blood so it is safe for you or your loved one to receive. My son had been inside me three weeks prior and they would not take my blood to give to him. I especially want to motivate people for the babies. But as mothers it never really matters how old our children are, they are always our babies.

When you donate, you save someone else’s baby. It’s as simple as if you or a loved one were in need, you would want someone else to think it was worth their time to spend 20 minutes one day to donate. I know a lot of people have fear of needles, but I just ask them to imagine the fear a mother experiences when she finds out her child, especially a newborn, needs a blood transfusion. When you donate blood, you save someone else’s baby, someone else’s spouse, someone else’s parent, or just someone else. IT IS WORTH IT! IT IS FREE! IT IS IMPORTANT!

Edited by Glenda Bogar/American Red Cross volunteer