By Eric Alves, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio
January 20, 2021- Have you ever wanted to get CPR and AED training, but you thought you would never have an opportunity to use your training to save a life? Well, hopefully today’s post will change your mind.
On January 11, 2020, while working during an indoor track meet at the Stile Athletic Field House, a spectator in the stands began to experience chest pains.
John and Kalie quickly responded to the aid of the gentleman. Instantly their Red Cross training kicked in as they delivered breath and chest compressions and administered an AED, until first responders were able to arrive to assist.
Thanks to the quick thinking and responsiveness of John and Kalie, the spectator survived and made a full recovery.
During a virtual ceremony last week, the American Red Cross of Greater Akron and the Mahoning Valley presented John and Kalie with the Lifesaving Award for Professional Responders, the highest award given to an individual, or team of individuals, who saves or sustains a life, outside of a medical setting, as part of their employment or while on duty.
“I am always amazed when someone takes the wherewithal to act. That is the hardest step,” stated Phil Ormandy, American Red Cross Training Services, during the presentation. “I am very proud of you [John and Kalie] and thankful that you put your training in action to save a life.”
“Thankfully John and Kalie were at the right place at the right time. I am proud of them and the University of Akron for holding these trainings,” said Max Elder, John and Kalie’s coworker, who nominated them for the award.
The American Red Cross offers training programs in various areas from first aid, CPR, AED administration, water safety, babysitting and more. Learn more about Red Cross lifesaving courses here.
By Eric Alves, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio
October 26, 2020- For many of us, the current coronavirus global pandemic has consumed our day-to-day lives, and often leaves us not able to focus on ourselves. Now add simultaneous disasters going on across the country, as well as local disasters, and this has been the existence of the staff of the American Red Cross of Northern Ohio.
While the Northern Ohio Red Cross staff members do not expect thanks and praise, the region’s leadership took the opportunity to hold a virtual staff meeting to reflect on the staff’s many successes this year. Dressed up as television and movie characters, the staff shared laughs and reveled in seeing one another, even if it was virtual.
The meeting was also an opportunity to award some of the staff and praise their work of going above and beyond during these difficult, unprecedented times.
The CEO Award is given to an employee who has made an outstanding contribution within their position.
This year, the award was presented to John Gareis.
With over 40 years of experience, John has been a central force in ensuring the safety and preparation of the residents of Northern Ohio. This year, with individuals unable to meet in person, John’s commitment led him to be innovative and transform his disaster preparation classes into virtual classes.
“John has an unbridled passion for ensuring every home in Northern Ohio is well prepared in the event a disaster occurs,” stated Mike Parks, Regional CEO. “Even with almost 45 years of Red Cross experience, John tackles every assignment with the same energy as if it was his first day on the job. When the global pandemic shut everything down, John knew it was more important than ever to ensure people were well prepared so he found creative ways to do so, including teaching virtual disaster preparedness classes. John not only embraces the Red Cross mission, but also truly embodies the Red Cross values.
The Spirit of Excellence Award
This award is presented of an employee who not only completes his or her normal tasks at an above average level, but has exceeded expectations in one or more areas.
This year, the Red Cross of Northern Ohio presented the award to two employees: Rich Barrett and Kristen Gallagher.
Rich has the very important task of overseeing every facility in the region. During the pandemic, like with many of his tasks, without looking for praise, Rich worked diligently to ensure our facilities were safe for staff and visitors.
“When walking through our Red Cross facilities, many people don’t realize what it takes to keep them running. Behind the scenes, with a smile on his face, Rich works to ensure the guests to our facilities have a positive experience and to ensure that our staff has everything they need to fulfill our mission,” said Jorge Martinez, Regional COO. “While Rich comes to work every day without looking for praise, I know I speak for everyone in the Northern Ohio Region when I say he is very deserving of this award and exemplifies the selflessness of our Red Cross staff.”
Kristen Gallagher is the disaster program specialist for the Greater Akron and the Mahoning Valley Chapter. Kristen oversees the region’s local disaster response in the Mahoning Valley. Kristen is also the first to lend a helping hand to assist a colleague in another part of the region.
“Kristen is a key member of our DCS (disaster cycle services) team. Her connectivity to the community as well as the volunteers is one of the keys to her success,” exclaimed Renee Palagyi, Disaster Program Manager. “Her compassion for the clients and her team is evident in all of her actions. Perhaps her best quality is her positive attitude and always friendly demeanor. She is critical to our successes in the Mahoning Valley.”
The Teamwork Award is designed to recognize a group of people who may work in the same department or may have worked across departmental lines to achieve a goal or complete a special project.
This award was fittingly presented to the Recognition Committee.
During the pandemic, the Recognition Committee knew the importance of taking time out of our day to take a breather to help with our mental health. The region’s virtual staff meetings were always filled with anticipation to see what new activity or video the Recognition Committee came up with that week, that brought a smile to everyone’s face.
“The Recognition Committee has been vital to ensuring the mental and physical well-being of our staff remains positive during COVID-19,” said Mike Parks. “Although we cannot be together physically, this group has found new and creative ways to put smiles on our faces and let our staff know just how appreciated they truly are. I know for a fact everyone’s favorite time during our virtual staff meetings is when the Recognition Committee is presenting.”
July 24, 2020- Imagine seeing a high school student fall to the ground while watching a football team practice. Would your first inclination be to assume he was horsing around? Fortunately, Shamara Golden, a student at Youngstown State University, was watching and had a sense there was more to it than that.
Shamara and athletic trainer Alex McCaskey rushed to his aid. Finding that he was still breathing and still had a pulse, but was unresponsive and unconscious, Alex stayed by his side and called 911. Shamara ran for the AED machine and medical kit.
Shamara Golden with her Red Cross Certificate of Merit
While she was gone, the student stopped breathing. Alex immediately began CPR. As she returned, Alex cut open his shirt as Shamara attached the AED pads for assessment. Following the instructions on the AED, they delivered a shock, which caused him to start breathing again.
Once the victim began to breathe again, Alex stabilized the victim’s spine while Shamara rolled the victim into recovery position. While waiting for the ambulance to arrive, the victim stopped breathing again and the AED advised to continue CPR. Alex began to again administer five rounds of CPR until the ambulance arrived.
“I received a call from the boy’s mother when he was taken off the ventilator in the hospital,” recalled Alex. “That was an amazing feeling, getting that call. After that, a number of the Warren G. Harding High School administration members came down to congratulate Shamara and me at future football games.”
Virtual award presentation featuring Greater Akron and the Mahoning Valley Chapter Executive Director Rachel Telegdy, Northern Ohio Region CEO Mike Parks, Dr. Morgan Bagley, Shamara Golden and Alex McCaskey
“The day after it happened,” explained Shamara, “I didn’t mention it to my class, because I still hadn’t heard how the boy was doing. After we heard that he was fine, my classmates found out and there were cheers all around.”
Alex and Shamara were nominated for American Red Cross lifesaving awards by Dr. Morgan Bagley, associate professor at Youngstown State University where Shamara was studying to become an athletic trainer.
Alex received the Certificate of Extraordinary Personal Action for those who step up in an emergency to save or sustain a life. Shamara received the Certificate of Merit, the highest award given by the Red Cross to a person who saves a life using the skills and knowledge learned in an American Red Cross Training Services course.
“I’m so proud of both of them,” said Dr. Bagley. “Shamara told me, ‘It’s just like you said, we have to constantly practice to be prepared for anything and everything.’”
Without a doubt, the skills learned in the American Red Cross CPR and AED Training class helped to save the life of this student.
You, too, can sign up and receive training in CPR, AED and First Aid with the Red Cross. Online classes are available. Click here to get started.
Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer
September 13, 2019- For Canton South High School, the new school year began with a celebration of heroism and life. At the school’s first staff meeting, the American Red Cross presented Kristen Smith, one of the school’s teachers, with its Certificate of Merit. It is the highest award given by the Red Cross to an individual or team of individuals who saves or sustains a life by using skills and knowledge learned in a Red Cross Training Services course.
The award was given to Kristen for her efforts that helped save a fellow teacher’s life. Last January, Kristen—who is trained in Red Cross First Aid/CPR/AED—recognized the signs when a colleague began to choke during lunch. She quickly reacted, confirmed that the teacher was indeed choking, and performed abdominal thrusts until food was dislodged from her colleague’s airway.
Kristen’s colleagues nominated her for the Certificate of Merit over summer break, worked with Red Cross representatives to verify her remarkable actions, and helped plan for the award’s presentation. At the school’s first staff meeting, Kristen was surprised with the award.
Kimberly Kroh, executive director of the American Red Cross’ Stark & Muskingum Lakes Chapter, presented the award. “It was such an honor to present Kristen Smith with the Certificate of Merit, one of the highest awards given by the American Red Cross,” she said. “It amazes me how one second can change someone’s life, and Kristen did just that when she saved the life of a fellow teacher.”
Jeff Moore, principal of Canton South High School, said, “Kristen exemplifies what we want all of our staff and students to be, someone who takes their education/training and uses those for the betterment of others, someone who is caring and is not afraid to be involved. We could not be more proud of Kristen and all she represents in Wildcat Nation.”
The Northeast Ohio Region of the American Red Cross is proud to have been part of the presentation and to have prepared Kristen for her heroic actions. The skills she learned certainly helped her save a life.
June 21, 2019- The annual Acts of Courage & the Spirit of the Red Cross awards was held at the Metroplex in Liberty, Ohio on Thursday, June 13th. It is regarded as the greatest evening of celebrated acts of courage, compassion, character & humility in which the Red Cross Lake to River Chapter proudly honors its deserving recipients each year.
Following a guest reception and social period, Debbi Grinstein, Lake to River board chair, welcomed all to an evening of regional recognition. Opening remarks followed the presentation of colors by Troop 40 of Girard and the chapter’s Disaster Action Teams (DAT) that took part in the hero’s processional. The program master of ceremonies was Greg Greenwood, representing the Greenwood Foundation and a Red Cross Hope Partner.
After a delicious dinner buffet was enjoyed by nearly 300 in attendance, the focal point of this night was now center stage. The spirit of giving and courage was squarely in the spotlight with patriotism for our country, community and individuals exemplifying acts of selflessness. Ten individuals for their heroic efforts and a respected business that captured the spirit of proactive giving were honored. Recipients were:
Nathen White – (Mahoning County) The Mill Creek Metro Park police officer didn’t plan on saving the life of Malayla Jackson. However, recognizing her allergic reaction, struggling to breathe and time restraints, he hurried her to the hospital in his squad car for the help needed for her survival. “She felt like she was dying”, time was critical and officer White’s quick actions saved her life.
Candice Desanzo – (East Palestine) didn’t know Ruth Kennedy; that is until their paths crossed in an emergency at a local restaurant. While enjoying dinner, Candice witnessed Ruth collapse from an apparent chocking episode. She immediately cared for her with both abdominal thrusts & CPR until EMS arrived. Candice made a difference in positive outcome through her training in live saving techniques.
Fab Four (Mosquito Lake) – Scot Oehlstrom, Rod Schaaf, MikeSoots & Zachery Westrich all had one thing in common on this cold January afternoon – ice fishing. Their second commonality became sharply apparent when they collaborated together to help a family of seven when their tent broke through the ice and heard their calls for help. Nearly 30 yards from shore with a ten-year-old untested rope and the determination of these four enthusiasts knew they had to act fast due to hypothermia. These men, with the screams for help ranging in ages from 7 to 34 were answered in affirmative actions rescuing each one from the frigid water. All survived the frightening ordeal because of the bravery of this fab four who now have more in common; they are heroes.
Mat Jamison (Girard) – Officer Jamison was on routine patrol when he noticed fire at the back of a duplex apartment in the city. After calling the fire department, he felt he had to act now to avoid a possible tragic outcome and entered the burning building with disregard for his own safety to rescue the adults & children inside. Girard Police Chief, John Norman interjected that Jamison had no reservations on going into the house, knocking on doors and getting the people to safety. The department, the city and the community are proud to recognize and honor his efforts that go above and beyond his call of duty.
Judy Sheve (Ashtabula) – Is another of our heroes that knew what to do in a choking emergency, such is the case of a fortunate 91-year-old Simone Campbell. While attending a senior center bridge club night, waitress Judy, recognized the chocking patron and with quick action of abdominal thrusts saved a golden life. In a twist, she left the tip that night; training is paramount in an emergency.
Madison Withrow (Ashtabula) – Is only 10 years old, which is why sharing her story of courage is so important. Madison was home with her mom and her 5 younger siblings when a fire broke out in their home. Against all odds and the will of passion, she was able to carry two 4-month-old twins and return for a 2-year-old brother to safety before first responders arrived. Sadly, Maddie nor the fire fighters could rescue her mother or two younger brothers. We honor and celebrate her selfless courage.
If handling emergencies like the preceding honorees are called acts of courage. Then planning to avoid a life-threatening emergency also falls into the same category, but over a longer period of time as with our next hero.
David Crawford (Canfield) – The local High School is the epicenter of a friendship of Coach Crawford and his boss, Athletic Director, Greg Cooper. Greg was diagnosed with non-alcoholic end stage liver disease-cirrhosis and was waiting for a match. When the coach found out that he was an exact match, “I knew I had the chance to save my friend” he said. That he did, donating 65% of his liver to save Greg’s life that would have ended all too soon.Greg’s daughter delivered a public heartfelt message of affection for the Crawford family and David’s gift of life for her father in a compassionate moment.
Hill Barth & King (HBK) – Was awarded the Spirit of the Red Cross. Founded in Youngstown in 1949 with seventeen offices in five states, they exemplify leadership in the community; compassion for its people and dedication to the life saving mission of the Red Cross.
The closing remarks by chapter director, Karen Conklin, expressed the compassion for family, a friend or a stranger develops extraordinary character, courage and humility that is the spirit of the Red Cross.
Thank you to the Acts of Courage Committee, chair Grinstein, the chapter board, committee judges and the awesome staff for their planning. It was a proud night for our chapter to honor these recipients. Congratulations and thank you for your selfless acts of courage & spirit!
J.M. Smucker Company recognized for humanitarian efforts
By Eric Alves, Regional Communications Specialist, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio
May 3, 2019- Celebration will be in the air on Saturday, May 11 at The Global Center for Health Innovation. The American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio will be hosting the Wrapped in Red Gala.
The Wrapped in Red Gala is a special “thank you” celebration recognizing the generosity of local organizations that have been instrumental in helping with the cost of a new bloodmobile for the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio.
The Red Cross relies on bloodmobiles to fulfill its mission to collect and deliver lifesaving blood. To make giving blood as convenient as possible, bloodmobiles—specially fitted buses containing equipment, beds and supplies—are vital to reaching today’s busy donors near their homes, workplaces, schools and other community-based locations.
Unfortunately, the current fleet of bloodmobiles is aging. The newest of the three regional bloodmobiles is 8-years-old, just two years from its recommended replacement at 10 years.
A new state-of-the-art bloodmobile measures 40-feet long and 8.5 feet wide and includes three health history booths where donors’ eligibility screenings are conducted, as well as up to five beds where blood is drawn.
Along with celebrating of the local community in helping the Red Cross collect much need blood to help save lives, the Wrapped in Red Gala will honor one of the region’s premier philanthropic companies.
The J.M. Smucker Company will be presented with the Steve D. Bullock Humanitarian of the Year Award.
Executive Chairman Richard Smucker will be accepting the award on behalf of the company. The award will be presented by Beth Mooney, the chairman and CEO of KeyCorp, and a previous recipient of the Humanitarian Award.
KeyBank is the presenting sponsor of the Wrapped in Red Gala.
Beth Mooney accepting the Steve D. Bullock Humanitarian of the Year Award
A leading Northeast Ohio business for more than 120 years, Smucker has always operated with the philosophy that being a successful business and a responsible one is not mutually exclusive. The company believes that success is only possible by ensuring those who support and are impacted by its business thrive along with it. In that spirit, Smucker supports a wide range of organizations nationally, including the American Red Cross, Feeding America, Rescue Bank, and the United Way, among others.
The company also has several local partners, including the American Red Cross Greater Cleveland Chapter, Boys and Girls Club of Cleveland, the Akron Canton Foodbank, Akron Children’s Hospital, and the LeBron James Family Foundation.
Following the award presentation, the Red Cross of Greater Cleveland Young Professionals Council will sponsor an after-party, which will include entertainment and dancing.
To schedule a blood donation appointment and to find a blood drive near you, visit RedCrossBlood.org.
By Christy Peters, External Communications Manager, Northern Ohio Blood Region
March 25, 2019- Recently, the American Red Cross presented Kalahari Resorts & Conventions with its Premier Blood Drive Partner award. The Premier Partner program recognizes blood drive sponsors who have collected at least 50 pints in a year. Last year, Kalahari collected 115 pints of lifesaving blood for local patients.
Kalahari Resorts & Conventions recently received the Premier Blood Drive Partner Award earlier this year. L to R: Angie Reyes, HR Director, Iryna Pylypenko, Employment Manager, Mary Ann Benton, Brian Shanle, General Manager
More than 80 percent of blood donations are made at blood drives organized by volunteer sponsor groups and coordinators. Right now, blood drive hosts are needed for spring and throughout the year. A blood drive is a commitment to help meet the needs of seriously ill or injured patients. Blood products are essential for the treatment of accident victims, surgical and sickle cell disease patients, those receiving cancer treatments, premature babies and others.
James Lassiter III of Garfield Heights donated blood at a recent Kalahari hosted blood drive in February
February 15, 2019- Bill Conley was taking part in an amphibious landing exercise on the island of Vieques off Puerto Rico’s eastern coast when he received the bad news: his grandmother had passed away. Word came to his commanding officer, after his mother had contacted the American Red Cross.
He was sent home to attend the funeral. He was 19 years old.
“I remember very distinctly, I vowed to myself that if I could, someday I would pay them back for helping me get home,” Bill said. More than 55 years later, Bill continues to offer that pay back, by volunteering with the Red Cross at the headquarters of the Northeast Ohio Region.
“I believe in the mission. I won’t leave as long as my health holds out.”
Bill is the Regional Mass Care Manager and a logistics supervisor, and helps plan for and execute sheltering, feeding and other services the Red Cross provides. He has been a Red Cross volunteer since the year 2000.
Bill’s continuing work with the Red Cross and his experience in the U. S. Navy are now intersecting. He has been named the 2019 Outstanding Veteran of the Year by the Joint Veterans Council of Cuyahoga County.
He said the recognition is truly gratifying.
“I treasure this honor, because now I have this real connection with people in the armed forces, because of my experience in the Navy and what the Red Cross was able to do for me when I was there.”
When he joined the Navy at age 17, Bill said he didn’t have focus. “The military provided the structure and the discipline I needed.”
Now, all these years later, Bill said the Red Cross provides him with the opportunity he needs to help others.
“Providing immediate assistance after people go through a house fire or some other disaster, that is my most rewarding experience.”
If you have an interest in helping others, like Bill does, visit redcross.org/neo and click “Volunteer” to start an application.
If you’d like to cheer Bill on as he receives his Outstanding Veteran of the Year award, attend the 94th anniversary luncheon of the Joint Veterans Council of Cuyahoga County on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. Visit here for tickets or call 216-373-7799.
By Sue Wilson, Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties Chapter board of directors. Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer.
Four lifeguards trained by the American Red Cross have been honored for saving a man’s life. Ryan Grimesey, Andrew Bachie, Nathaniel French and John Porch jumped into action after finding a man lying unresponsive on the floor of the Middleburg Heights Recreation Center last July. They called for EMS and performed CPR with an AED until medics arrived.
L to R: Tim O’Toole, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio regional disaster officer, Middleburg Heights Mayor Gary Starr, Ryan Grimesey, Nathaniel French, Andrew Bachie, Jeff Minch, Middleburg Heights recreation director, and Jessica Rockhill, aquatics/facilities director
The lifeguards were honored with the American Red Cross Lifesaving Award at a Middleburg Heights City Council meeting on Tuesday, December 11, 2018. This is one of the highest awards given by the Red Cross to an individual or team for saving or sustaining a life by using skills and knowledge learned in a Red Cross course.
The team of young men were on duty at the Middleburg Heights Community Center on July 5 when a call came across the radio that a man was lying on the floor in the locker room. All four moved in, each handling a specific aspect of the lifesaving techniques they had been trained for with precision.
Ryan Grimesey said they all knew what they needed to do. “I have been training with Andrew, John and Nathaniel for a few years now, and our chemistry is extraordinary, as are each of them. Everyone knew their part like it was the back of their hand. It was a team effort, and they were the best team I could have asked for.”
We often hear stories of “heroes” who step in and handle a situation in a way many of us fear we would not have the confidence to do, and these young men were no exception, expressing humility about their efforts; each crediting the other.
“It’s easy to have confidence in your actions when you are surrounded by great people,” said Ryan.
Nate French concurred: “This whole situation was held together by my coworkers. The people I worked with are not only well qualified and prepared, but level-headed and team players as well. Ryan, John and Andrew all kept their composure and acted efficiently. I wouldn’t have asked for anyone else to be on a team with.”
Left to Right: Ryan Grimesey, Nathaniel French, Andrew Bachie and Tim O’Toole during the presentation of the Lifesaving Award during the Middleburg Heights City Council meeting.
It is preparedness that is key. All four were trained in the extensive programs available through the Red Cross, like the Water Safety and Lifeguarding courses that gave them the knowledge and skill to deliver critical care services like CPR, first aid and AED administration for situations such as this. Once in the training room, the lifeguards saw what was happening and did what needed to be done.
“We communicated with each other on what we were doing and instructed one another on what should happen next,” said Nate.
“It’s gratifying to know that Red Cross training played a part in helping save a life,” said Tim O’Toole, American Red Cross Regional Disaster Officer, who presented the awards during the ceremony on behalf of the American Red Cross Board of Governors. “The swift and decisive actions of these four lifeguards exemplify the Red Cross mission to help people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies.”
The American Red Cross offers training programs in various areas from first aid, CPR, AED administration, water safety, babysitting and more. The programs use methods designed by a team of nationally recognized experts with the latest evidence-based data to create training programs to help save lives. Learn more about Red Cross lifesaving courses here.
Visit our Flickr page to view photos from the Lifesaving Award presentation.
“WELD’s Cleveland Chapter is thrilled to announce the names of the diverse group of talented leaders who will be featured as its 2019 calendar honorees,” said WELD President and CEO Barb Smoot. “In countless ways, these women are indeed WELDing the Way® by making an impact in their communities. They inspire others by living WELD’s mission to develop and advance women’s leadership to strengthen the economic prosperity of the communities we serve.”
As the SAF Program Manager, Jessica coordinates the delivery of Red Cross services, including emergency communications, pre-deployment preparedness and resiliency workshops for members of the military, veterans and their families. Much of the work is done with the help of volunteers.
Jessica Tischler and Koby Langley, Senior Vice President, SAF and International Services
Jessica Tischler, Jim Strause, Division SAF Manager, and Sue Fuehrer, Director, VA Northeast Ohio Healthcare System
Jessica Tischler, center, with Red Cross team members
At the Youngstown Air Reserve Station
“If you have the opportunity to work with young women or volunteers, you want them to be successful, to far exceed anything you’ve ever done,” Jessica said.
“The (WELD) recognition is important, because it gives me a way to promote our mission and to recognize the work done by our volunteers,” she said. “It also allows me to reflect on all the ways the Red Cross assists service men and women, veterans and their families,” she said.
Anyone interested in helping the Red Cross provide services to military men and women, veterans and their families can visit redcross.org/neo to apply.
Jessica and the other WELD honorees were recognized during a ceremony at the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association on Nov. 8, 2018. Each honoree will be featured in the 2019 Women WELDing the Way calendar.