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).

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.

 

Heroes honored for ‘Acts of Courage’ in Akron

By Sue Wilson, American Red Cross volunteer

March 6, 2020- I’ve had the privilege of serving on the board for  the Summit, Portage and Medina County Red Cross for nine years. As part of that, I’ve been honored to emcee the annual Acts of Courage and H. Peter Burg Community Leadership Award event with my co-host and husband, radio personality Tim Daugherty.

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Sue Wilson and Tim Daugherty

Acts of Courage honors individuals who have shown extraordinary courage, compassion, character, and humanity. These stories never cease to have a profound effect on me and every single person in the room.

The 24th annual Acts of Courage honored the following individuals:

Matt Martincin and Chris Deeks

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Matt Martincin and Chris Deeks with Summit, Portage and Medina Counties Chapter Executive Director Rachel Telegdy

As smoke billowed from a second-floor apartment building, early in the morning of June 12, 2019, Medina police officers Matt Martincin and Chris Deeks arrived to see two women trapped in an apartment. Despite having a smoke alarm in the apartment, there were no batteries in the alarm.

After attempts to have the women jump failed, Matt and Chris found a ladder on the back of a contractor’s vehicle and used the ladder to rescue the two women and all seven of their pets.

Here is Chris and Matt’s story:

Gregg Whiteman

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Gregg Whiteman with Rachel Telegdy

What began as an ordinary day at GOJO headquarters in Akron, quickly turned to anything but ordinary.

While in a meeting, Gregg Whiteman received a call from a colleague. Realizing how unusual it was to receive a call from someone who knew he was in a meeting, Gregg answered his phone. He quickly realized that something was wrong and that the co-worker needed his assistance.

Remaining on the phone, Gregg was able to gather the proper information to realize exactly where his colleague was, despite his inability to speak coherently.

Thanks to his persistence, Gregg was not only able to find his co-worker lying on the floor of an office, behind a closed door, but his quick response and immediate call to 911 ensured that the co-worker in need was able to be taken to the hospital, where he was given medication to prevent permanent damage from the stroke he was suffering.

Here is Gregg’s story:

Brian Linder

At the end of a workday in downtown Akron, Brian Linder was walking across the skywalk to the garage to go home. As he was hurrying along to avoid the frigid February cold, Brian spotted an individual unconscious and not breathing.

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Rachel Telegdy with Brian Linder

Having just completed a CPR refresher course a few months prior, Brian began to administer CPR until paramedics arrived on the scene.

Here is Brian’s Story:

Jacob Thompson

On February 24, 2019, there was a high wind advisory for drivers. That day, Jacob Thompson was returning to the Kent State University campus following United States Coast Guard drill training in Port Clinton, Ohio.

As he was driving, the high wind took hold of a trailer and threw a semi-truck that was driving in front of Jacob into the center guardrail.

Jacob immediately pulled his vehicle to the side of the road. Upon approaching the vehicle, he was able to see the driver alive, but confused and unable to get out. Jacob then began to remove the top and debris from the truck in order to access the cab so he could pull the driver to safety from the overturned vehicle.

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Jacob is currently deployed on active duty and was unable to attend the event. However, prior to deploying, Jacob was able to receive his award and taped an acceptance video, which was shown during the evening’s activities.

Paul Diven

In October, Stan Hywet maintenance worker Paul Diven saw a crowd gathering during the annual Ohio Mart arts fair. When he made his way to the commotion, he noticed volunteer Bruce DeBarr, who requires oxygen, not breathing.

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Rachel Telegdy with Paul Diven

Understanding time was of the essence, Paul began to troubleshoot to find the issue with Bruce’s oxygen tank. Once Paul spotted that a part was installed incorrectly, he properly installed the part and began to hear the oxygen flowing, helping Bruce regain consciousness. Once Bruce made a full recovery, Paul returned to work at Ohio Mart.

Doug Price, Marcus Council and Barb Fisher

On May 9, 2019, the Akron Fire Department responded to a home fire, with reports of a child trapped in a basement.

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Marcus Council and Doug Price with Rachel Telegdy

With the home engulfed in flames and the basement full of smoke, Akron firefighters Lt. Doug Price and Marcus Council entered the home in search of the young girl. Despite low visibility, Doug was able to find the child unconscious and lying on the ground and covered. Doug and Marcus removed the child from the burning home. She was transported to the hospital, where she was able to regain consciousness and make a full recovery.

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Barb Fisher with Rachel Telegdy

It was later determined that the child remembered the fire safety instructions she was taught a week earlier by her teacher Barb Fisher, ultimately helping to save her life.

Here is Doug, Marcus and Barb’s story:

Jason Strunk, Leslie Snyder and Seth Bond

While waiting at a red light on his way to helping an elderly family friend grocery shop in Akron’s Middlebury neighborhood, Jason Strunk heard gunfire ring out in the street. That is when Jason saw a mother being shot by her boyfriend, while trying to protect her three children, including an infant.

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Jason Strunk with Rachel Teledgy

Without hesitation, Jason jumped out of his car and began to wrestle with the armed individual. At this time, Leslie Snyder and Seth Bond arrived and witnessed what was happening. Seth began to assist Jason in trying to apprehend the shooter, while Leslie attended to the injured mother and her children.

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Seth Bond and Leslie Snyder with Rachel Telegdy

During the exchange, the shooter’s gun jammed. As the shooter returned to his vehicle to find and return with a knife, Jason grabbed the two older children and placed them in his car, while Leslie placed the mother and baby in her car, while applying pressure to the mother’s wounds. Jason and Leslie were able to drive the family to safety until first responders and paramedics arrived.

Here is Jason, Leslie and Seth’s story:

Each of these  stories share one common theme: that the people involved don’t consider themselves “heroes.” And THEY are the ones who are grateful for being able to help someone.  Wow.

Another highlight of this event is  the H. Peter Burg Community Leadership Award, presented to those who best exemplify Pete Burg’s leadership qualities, his compassion for people and his dedication to the lifesaving mission of the Red Cross. This year’s award recipient is Steve Hendricks.

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Steve Hendricks receiving the award from Rachel Telegdy and H. Peter Burg’s daughter Amy Burg Cole

Steve is market president of the Northeast Ohio region for S&T Bank. He served on the Red Cross of Summit, Portage and Medina Counties board of directors for 9 years and held many leadership positions including board president. After terming off the board, he remains active with the chapter, serving on multiple committees and engaging his team at S&T Bank in Sound the Alarm events throughout the Summit, Portage and Medina Counties. In addition to his Red Cross work, Hendricks serves on multiple boards throughout the area, including the Akron Area YMCA board of trustees. He is also a graduate of Leadership Akron, Class 25

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Akron Area YMCA performing “What a Wonderful World”

Among the tributes honoring Steve, children from the Akron Area YMCA youth program surprised Steve with a performance where they used American Sign Language to sing “What a Wonderful World.”

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The festivities came to an end with a visit by the Akron Fire Department’s fire pup mascot and Northeast Ohio Region Program Disaster Program Officer Tim O’Toole sharing with all those in attendance the importance of smoke alarms and home fire escape plans.

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Tim O’Toole

You too can be a local hero. If you are interested in taking a Red Cross training, such as CPR, life guarding and babysitting, please visit redcross.org/take-a-class to see upcoming classes and to register.

You can also be a hero to someone in need by donating life saving blood. Visit RedCrossBlood.org to find a blood drive near you and to schedule an appointment to give now.

To view more photos from the Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties Chapter Acts of Courage event, visit the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio’s Flickr page.

Nursing professor and students take lifesaving skills beyond the classroom

By Eilene E. Guy, American Red Cross volunteer

March 4, 2020- Let’s say you’re enjoying a quiet evening at home with family or friends and one of you suffers a cardiac emergency. Dr. Mariann Harding wants to increase the odds that someone there can give the victim—possibly you—a fighting chance to live.

CPR Stock Photography 2018

Dr. Harding is a professor of nursing technology at the Kent State University (KSU) Tuscarawas campus. So all her students are learning the critical skills to handle such an emergency. Now she’s discovered a way to expand that number of responders many times over.

This year, through the American Red Cross, 18 members of her nursing honor society are presenting Hands-Only CPR. They are teaching non-medical members of their communities how to maintain vital circulation in a stricken person until trained responders arrive.

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“Our goal is 200 people touched with this training this year,” said the professor, who likes to be called Mariann. “It’s going very smoothly. I think we’re going to make it.”

Mariann became acquainted with the Red Cross two and a half years ago by way of a local leadership workshop. She decided she could bring something worthwhile to the organization with her medical and educator background.

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She joined the board of her local Stark and Muskingum Lakes Chapter and learned about the many preparedness and prevention programs of the Red Cross, including Hands-Only CPR. She realized her students would be ideal volunteer teachers to spread the word about this lifesaving technique.

Hands-Only CPR done by a bystander is recognized as being as effective as CPR with rescue breaths for the first crucial minutes after a cardiac event. “It’s better to use a stopgap that’s 90 percent effective than to do nothing,” Mariann said of the hands-only technique.

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KSU provided a grant to buy compression training “torsos” for her project. Last year she and 16 honor nursing students taught nearly 230 people—from teenagers to elderly churchgoers. She’s convinced, “Everybody can do something.”

The project has given her nursing students a shot of confidence in their own abilities to build healthier communities, and it’s introduced them to other Red Cross programs. “One of my students signed up to help with the smoke alarm installations and another one is interested in becoming a presenter for the safe sitter program.”

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As for Mariann, “I’m so enjoying my involvement with the Red Cross. I look forward to doing more.”

To learn about the many Red Cross programs that empower Americans to prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies, or to become a volunteer, visit redcross.org or contact your local Red Cross chapter.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Northeast Ohio Region weekend disaster report: February 28-March 1, 2020

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

March 2, 2020-  To kickoff March is Red Cross Month, the American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio responded to 11 separate local disasters, including several home fires across the region.

California Wildfires 2019

As the calendar changed from February to March, Disaster Action Team members assisted 45 individuals in Cuyahoga, Lorain, Summit, Tuscarawas and Wayne counties. The Red Cross also provided more than $9,000 in immediate financial assistance.

In 2014, the Red Cross launched the Home Fire Campaign, a nationwide initiative to reduce the number of fire-related deaths by 25 percent. As of the current date, 715 lives have been saved across the country through the Home Fire Campaign, including 15 in Northeast Ohio.

DAT home fire responses Atlanta, Georgia video screenshots 2019

As part of the Home Fire Campaign, the Red Cross will be installing smoke alarms in communities across the country from April 18 to May 3 during an initiative called Sound the Alarm, Save a Life. In just six years, our home visits have accomplished so much, including the installation of more than 2 million smoke alarms.

Watch below to hear Doreen and Lial McCullough story to learn how a smoked alarm saved their lives during a home fire:

For more information on Sound the Alarm and to sign up to volunteer at a smoke alarm installation event near you, visit SoundTheAlarm.org.

March is Red Cross Month

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

February 28, 2020- You’ve probably seen the American Red Cross blood drive signs across town, and you’ve probably passed a Red Cross vehicle or two recently. But did you know that March is Red Cross Month?

The first nationally proclaimed Red Cross Month was the idea of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1943. He said, “I request that during that month (March) our people rededicate themselves to the splendid aims and activities of the Red Cross.” It’s been remembered each year since.

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Every day the Red Cross answers the calls from those in need in many ways. Our blood collection unit supplies about 40% of the blood requirements of the United States. Each unit of blood can save as many as three lives.

Our Service to the Armed Forces unit helps military members, veterans and their families in many ways, including making contact military members when there is a family emergency.

Our disaster services team responds to local, national and international emergencies. Regionally, we respond to an average of three home fires every 24 hours.

What most people don’t realize is that the Red Cross is a charitable organization, not a government agency. It depends on volunteers and the generosity of people like you to perform our mission. Another interesting fact is that the Red Cross is part of the world’s largest volunteer network, found in 187 counties.

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WWFDRS?  (What would FDR say?)

His idea was for everyone to adopt the aim and activities of the Red Cross. For some, that might mean a donation if they don’t have time to serve. You can always make a donation here.

But if you really want to make a difference, consider volunteering. It will make a difference in someone else’s life as well as your own. There’s no better feeling than being able to assist someone when they are at their lowest hour.

Volunteer opportunities exist now for many talents. But we are especially in need of people to:

1) Join the Disaster Action Team, which goes out in pairs after a local fire or flood to provide financial and emotional support.

2) Become a Home Fire Campaign volunteer to spend an afternoon assisting with the installation of free smoke alarms in local neighborhoods.

3) Serve as drivers to Transport Blood products from blood drives to our main office and then to hospitals. Clean driving record needed. Vehicles provided.

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There’s no experience needed for any of these positions, and they can be done by the young as well as the young-at-heart. Hours are flexible and all training is provided. Make FDR proud, and consider joining our mission to alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer