Another Northern Ohio life saved thanks to volunteers

Arlington, Ohio woman credits fire safety information for helping her escape in April

By Jim McIntyre, American Red Cross

Ramona Martin of Arlington in North Central Ohio safely escaped her home after fire broke out in the early morning hours of April 14, 2021. She was awakened after smoke alarms installed in 2018 by Red Cross volunteers Steve and Valerie Mahler of Findlay sounded.

Ramona Martin, left, with Red Cross volunteers Stephan and Valerie Mahler, standing in front of Ms. Martin’s fire-damaged home in Arlington, Ohio

The installation was part of the American Red Cross Home Fire Campaign, which was launched in October 2014.  Since then, more than 1,000 lives have been saved following the efforts of volunteers and partners.

“I never thought it would happen to me,” said Ms. Martin.  She credits the fire safety information she received from Steve and Valerie when they installed her smoke alarms for giving her the knowledge she needed to safely escape.  “You have to have an escape plan.” She said she had only about two minutes to get out.

“When we started installing smoke alarms, I contacted my neighbors, family members, people from church, everyone I know,” said Steve.

See additional photos here. Watch Steve interview Ramona here.

Residents can visit SoundtheAlarm.org/noh to request a virtual education session on home fire safety and to request smoke alarm installations.  While the Red Cross has postponed in-home visits due to COVID-19 concerns, we will contact residents to schedule an appointment when we resume our in-home visits or if we are able to offer in-home installations with local fire departments.

National Volunteer Week spotlight: Roger Barton of North Central Ohio

By Eilene E. Guy, American Red Cross volunteer

To celebrate National Volunteer Week, we are featuring profiles of some of the dedicated volunteers who help the American Red Cross fulfill its mission in Northern Ohio.

Roger Barton fills a pivotal volunteer role with the Red Cross: Leadership.

In his second year as chair of the North Central Ohio Chapter of the Red Cross, Roger is enthusiastic about the nonprofit organization and its many services: blood collection, disaster response, support for the armed forces and emergency preparedness.

But as an executive in private enterprise—he’s general manager of Reineke Ford Lincoln in Findlay—Roger understands that none of those activities would be possible without the financial support of the American people.

“I’ve been active in fundraising,” he said, explaining how he feels he’s making a difference. “It takes money to run an organization.”

“Roger is well known in the community and he knows how to inspire people, to get them enthusiastic about helping others,” said Todd James, executive director of the Red Cross’ North Central Ohio Chapter, who has worked closely with Roger since he joined the chapter board six years ago.

“Not many people appreciate the importance of raising the dollars it takes to pay the people who draw blood or buy the gasoline for disaster vans or provide AED and CPR training equipment.”

Roger had personal experience with the Red Cross long before he stepped into his current role. “I’ve always given blood,” he said, and when he was in the U.S. Navy, he learned that if he or a family member needed emergency messaging, it would go through the Red Cross.

In 2007, the Blanchard River overflowed, flooding Roger’s basement along with scores of other homes in Findlay. “The Red Cross had a pickup truck going through the neighborhood and they were handing out cleanup supplies.

“That really hit home,” he recalled.

Roger is looking forward to the easing of pandemic restrictions, when “normal” activities can resume, including fundraising events that he knows are important to meeting needs that never end.

“The more you get involved, the more you understand how vital the Red Cross is,” he said.

If you’d like to get involved in a vital organization—as a leader, donor, trainer or responder (on-the-ground or virtual)—contact your local Red Cross chapter or visit https://www.redcross.org/volunteer.