Happy Thanksgiving from the Northern Ohio Region!

By Mike Parks, Regional CEO, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

November 26, 2020- Friends and family of the American Red Cross of Northern Ohio!! 

As challenging as this year has been, and is, for all of us, I feel strongly we still have so much for which to be grateful—not the least of which is your American Red Cross—and YOU ARE the American Red Cross!!

Thank you for everything you do to support our lifesaving mission. Please take less than a minute and watch the video below because if a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video must be priceless!! 

Cynthia, Tiffany and Halle join me in wishing you and yours a blessed and wonderfully Happy Thanksgiving!! 

Best wishes- Mike Parks

Festival of Trees takes on new light this year

By Samantha Pudelski, American Red Cross volunteer

November 23, 2020- Each year, the American Red Cross of Heartland, Stark and Muskingum Lakes holds its Festival of Trees event to raise funds for the Red Cross. This year’s event, typically held in Wooster, is being reinvented to allow not only the Wooster community to safely participate, but the greater Northern Ohio Region to join in the fun as well.

The event’s auction will be held online, running from Thursday, Nov. 26 at noon (Thanksgiving day) through Dec.1 at 8 p.m. Participants will have the opportunity to bid on over 60 different items, including a variety of decorated trees, wreaths, a Cricut® Maker, gift baskets and even a cruise!

The event will culminate in a Facebook Live event on facebook.com/NOHRedCross on Dec.1 at 7:30 p.m., just before bidding ends, to celebrate the great work the Red Cross does to help those in need. The Facebook Live event will feature Red Cross volunteers who have deployed to disaster areas and will provide viewers an opportunity to ask questions about the Red Cross and the work being done by volunteers.

“The financial gifts we receive from Festival of Trees will allow us to continue serving our community in times of need,” said Kimberly Kroh, Executive Director for the Red Cross of Heartland, Stark and Muskingum Lakes. “The Red Cross is there if someone in our community experiences a devastating home fire or a life-threatening event that prompts a deployed military service member’s return. Thank you for supporting Festival of Trees!”

Funds raised from the event help the Red Cross continue to provide critical services to people in the community who are affected by a disaster such as a fire or flood.

A tree made of Ohio lottery scratch tickets is one of the many items you can bid on during the Festival of Trees auction!

If you can’t wait until Nov. 26, we’re with you! You can register for the auction today by clicking here. We look forward to virtually seeing you at this year’s event.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

‘I didn’t realize the variety, the national scope of what the Red Cross does’

By Eilene E. Guy, American Red Cross volunteer

November 2, 2020 – Is it time to add a breath of fresh air to your life? Are you ready to try something new? Do you feel like doing good for others, but you’re not sure how?

Gail Robinson of Wickliffe, Ohio, felt the same way. The retired health and physical education teacher was laid off from a part-time gig with the Cleveland Browns and Cleveland Cavaliers and was feeling restless.

“I needed something to do,” she said. “I saw that the American Red Cross was looking for people to volunteer and I decided to check it out.”

Gail Robinson

Gail checked out an online volunteer information session that opened her eyes.

“I was a Red Cross swim instructor for many years and taught first aid and CPR,” she said, “and I gave blood.

“But I didn’t realize the variety, the national scope of what the Red Cross does; how the Red Cross needs people to go to help with disasters in California and Florida and Louisiana. I guess I just thought the Red Cross there handled all those disasters.”

“Actually, more than 90 percent of our workforce are volunteers,” said Melanie Collins, volunteer recruitment specialist for the Northern Ohio Region of the Red Cross. “Due to COVID, many of our volunteers are not able to deploy right now, which is completely understandable.

“At the same time, the need for volunteers to help with blood drives and local disasters such as home fires – as well as disasters across the country – hasn’t dropped off.”

The Red Cross has adapted in many ways to keep its workforce and the people it serves safe. Many of its activities are now done online; volunteer recruitment is one.

Melanie will host an online information session from noon to 1 p.m. Friday, Nov. 6, to explore volunteer opportunities in Cuyahoga, Lake and Geauga counties.

“We’re looking for people who are willing and able to volunteer to help fill the gaps we’re currently experiencing,” Melanie said. The “gaps” include serving on Disaster Action Teams to comfort those affected by home fires and other local emergencies, serving as “ambassadors” at blood drives and driving blood products to area hospitals.

Charles Bluhm of Williamsfield, in far eastern Ashtabula County, works for a commercial construction company. He joined one of Melanie’s virtual information sessions and is now checking out the many aspects of Red Cross service through online videos.

“I’m interested in the hands-on things that the Red Cross does,” he said. “Emily (Probst, a regional disaster workforce manager) reached out to me and I think she’s going to get me involved with a local disaster response team. I appreciate that personal contact.”

Meanwhile, Gail Robinson is taking online Red Cross courses so she can go help house, feed and comfort those hit by this year’s relentless hurricanes or merciless wildfires.

Gail is looking forward to a new activity, a new sense of purpose at a time when so much seems to be on pause.

To join Melanie’s online volunteer information session, RSVP to melanie.collins4@redcross.org or call 330-204-6615. You can always find out more about what the Red Cross does and how you can get involved by going to redcross.org/volunteertoday. Be a Hero in your community

Being prepared is the first step to endure and recover from disaster

By Tim Poe, American Red Cross volunteer

September 1, 2020- September is National Preparedness Month, and this year’s events have underscored the importance of being prepared for a disaster in Northern Ohio as everywhere. The American Red Cross is also focusing on the needs of seniors in disaster preparation, as new research from the Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council and the American Academy of Nursing  finds that, “Older adults are more vulnerable and experience more casualties after a natural disaster compared to other age groups experiencing similar events.”

While Northern Ohio rarely faces large-scale disasters, we do face home fires, flooding, and tornadoes, among other events. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that all of us need to be ready.

To discuss preparedness for Northern Ohioans and the needs of seniors, I spoke with John Gareis, the Red Cross’s Regional Manager for Individual Community and Disaster Preparedness for Northern Ohio. John has a wealth of experience in preparing for and recovering from disasters of all types.

Preparation and lessons from COVID-19

John emphasized that in any disaster, including a pandemic, the needs remain the same: food, shelter, clothing, information, and emotional support. “Taking steps to prepare, before any emergency event would happen, is key,” he said. This is especially important for seniors.

John said the COVID-19 pandemic taught us to better prepare for emergencies. He pointed out that many were caught off guard, causing shortages of everyday staples. “People began to hoard and stock up on items taken for granted in everyday life,” he said.

We can learn from this, however. John recommended that every household prepare an emergency kit or supplies based on what is used every day. While having enough for at least three days is good, he said, supplies for one to two weeks is better.

August 30, 2020. Cameron, Louisiana Pamela Harris of the American Red Cross looks out on a home destroyed by Hurricane Laura in Cameron Parish, LA, one of the hardest hit areas, on Sunday, August 30, 2020. Photo by Scott Dalton/American Red Cross

Especially consider necessities for seniors, children, and those with special needs. John pointed out that emergency supply kits don’t have to be expensive and can be gathered from items already owned. In addition to daily supplies, have copies of important documents and contact information for doctors, family, and close friends. He also said to think about your home and, if you had to evacuate in under two minutes, could you?

John also said, “Information is key in any disaster. Knowing what could happen and how to keep informed are the main things people need and want.”

Ensuring seniors are prepared

As older adults are more vulnerable during a disaster, the Red Cross especially encourages seniors to prepare, and that everyone ask older adults in their lives if they need help, whether relatives, neighbors, or fellow seniors.

August 24, 2020. Vacaville, California. LNU Complex Fire burn zone on Pleasants Valley Road in Vacaville, California. Red Cross volunteer Jillian Robertson explores the burned area, stepping over discarded fire hoses that had been left behind. Photos by Dennis Drenner/American Red Cross

In addition to preparing supplies, seniors should maintain and grow communications and social networks. “In any emergency,” John said, “having someone to check on you or that you can check on is key. It’s the buddy system.”

For help preparing, please visit Emergency Preparedness for Older Adults, How to Prepare for Emergencies, and COVID-19 Safety Tips. Red Cross apps are available here.

Power up for disaster preparedness

Free on-line Red Cross presentations share safety tips

By Eilene Guy, American Red Cross volunteer

August 3, 2020- As we move into the “dog days” of August, it’s easy to feel a bit bogged down, a bit lethargic.  The American Red Cross is ready to wake up your brain and pump up your ability to care for yourself and others in an emergency.

“Be Red Cross Ready” is a collection of free safety presentations, delivered on-line. They cover disasters that happen every day – and explain what you can do to prevent and react to them.

People young and old all over Northern Ohio have been sitting in on these hour-long sessions to learn how to strengthen their own safety and the safety of those they love.

Hurricane Hanna 2020

“I wanted to thank you for the wonderful presentation,” Bill Riter said after taking a recent home fire safety class. “I’m trying to learn as much as I can {about preparedness) and your presentation had an immediate impact. I spoke with my girlfriend about a fire extinguisher and she doesn’t have one. She will in two days: I ordered one on Amazon.  We’ll check smoke detectors Saturday.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t stopping the Red Cross from offering vital information about being prepared for disasters,” said John Gareis, Northern Ohio regional manager for individual community and disaster preparedness.

“Our presentations are designed to help people prepare for thunderstorms, floods, home fires and other potential disasters.  We even offer a safety course for pets,” John added.

So, let’s start with pets. Pet First Aid covers hazards that can affect cats and dogs, and the first aid actions owners can take until they get their animal to a veterinarian. Owners also learn the signs of a healthy pet, so they recognize signs of distress.

California Wildfires 2018

How about General Preparedness and Fire Safety, the presentation Bill Riter took? It includes suggestions on how you and your family can be prepared for all kinds of emergencies, especially home fires. Learn how home fires start, how to prevent them and what to do if one flares up.

Sound the Alarm Event in Capitol Heights, Maryland 2019

Speaking of general preparedness, how about General Preparedness and Tornado Safety? This one also covers preparedness for all kinds of disasters, particularly tornadoes. (No, we’re definitely not out of tornado season yet in Northern Ohio!)

Texas Tornadoes 2020

One of the most effective disaster programs of the Red Cross is our Pillowcase Project. Volunteers present this program to children in grades 3-5, teaching them about personal and family preparedness – including safety skills, local hazards and basic coping skills. You can learn to lead students through a “Learn, Practice, Share” framework – a resource that will be vital as schools reopen for in-person learning.

IMG_7205

To join any of these presentations, register by clicking on the date and time of the topic you’re interested in; use the password Prepare20.

For more disaster safety tips, visit redcross.org. Be sure to also download the free Red Cross mobile apps, available in the Apple App Store or Google Play, for tools and preparedness information you can use every day.

 

Red Cross CPR training helps individuals save co-worker in Austintown

By Eilene Guy, American Red Cross volunteer

July 10, 2020- If a loved one or colleague – or even a stranger – suddenly collapsed in front of you, what would you do?

Fortunately for 61-year-old Mark Eitner, his coworkers at Nordson Xaloy Inc., in Austintown, Ohio, knew exactly what to do. They saved his life.

“Thank you doesn’t seem like enough to say,” Mark said, “but on behalf of my wife and my children, thank you!”

CPR Stock Photography 2018

Mark was on hand last week for an American Red Cross ceremony to honor the men who saved his life: Jim Shepard and Richard Santucci.

When Mark went down next to a machine he was working on, Jim immediately recognized the situation was serious and alerted others on the maintenance team to call 9-1-1. Richard – a safety team member who just weeks earlier had taken a refresher for his Red Cross first aid, CPR and AED course – stepped in to take action.

Based on his training, Richard could tell Mark needed CPR, to keep blood flowing, taking oxygen to his brain. He also recognized Mark’s heart needed stimulation from an AED. Richard was able to administer both.

austintown

Virtual award presentation for the Nordson Xaloy Inc. employees

Studies show CPR can double a person’s chance of surviving a heart attack, but only about a third of those who suffer cardiac arrest outside of a hospital receive bystander CPR, according to the American Heart Association. Mark got a fighting chance at survival, thanks to Richard and Jim.

Rachel Telegdy, executive director of the American Red Cross of Greater Akron and the Mahoning Valley, presented Jim with a Certificate for Extraordinary Personal Action.  This certificate recognizes people who step up in an emergency to help save or sustain a life, exemplifying the mission of the Red Cross to prevent and alleviate human suffering in emergencies.

For his part, Richard received the Red Cross Certificate of Merit, the organization’s highest award, given to people who save or sustain a life using skills and knowledge learned in Red Cross training. The certificate is signed by the president of the United States, who is the honorary chair of the American Red Cross, and the chairman of the Red Cross.

“It’s my honor (to receive the award),” Richard said. “Without your support and training, I wouldn’t have been able to do what I did.”

CPR Stock Photography 2018

Richard has gone on to get certified to teach Red Cross first aid, CPR and AED, paying it forward to enable others to respond in an emergency. He noted that there was an overwhelming response from the Nordson workforce to get Red Cross training in the wake of Mark’s emergency.

“Heroes are all around us. But they’re not common.  To act quickly and decisively during a crisis takes a level of courage reserved only for a few,” Rachel said.

“It’s our hope your heroic actions inspire others to get trained in skills that save lives.”

To find a Red Cross first aid, CPR and AED course – and be ready to save a life – go to redcross.org/take-a-class.

Click here to view the virtual awared presentation.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Don’t put yourself and others at risk: avoid or be cautious around backyard fireworks

By Tim Poe, American Red Cross volunteer

July 3, 2020- Fireworks have been part of Fourth of July celebrations since 1777; unfortunately, so have injuries. This year may pose increased risks, as many have responded to the cancelation of professional community displays by purchasing consumer fireworks.

Cleveland.com reports that fireworks complaints in our area have surged, with Cleveland alone seeing a 461% increase. Many regions in the U.S. are seeing similar increases, according to CNN, while the American Pyrotechnics Association anticipates this year will set an all-time high for backyard consumer fireworks sales.

Fireworks-safety-tw

The number of injuries caused by fireworks in a typical year, however, is sobering. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission states that, in 2019, about 10,000 injuries and 12 fireworks-related deaths were reported, 73% of which occurred from June 21 to July 21. During that period, sparklers alone caused 900 injuries, many of them to children. (The full report is here).

Andrew Neading, burn program coordinator at Cleveland’s MetroHealth System, said that MetroHealth anticipates an increased number of burn injuries this year.

“MetroHealth treats approximately six burn and blast injuries related to firework use every year,” he said. “Although most of these injuries can be treated as an outpatient, some do require an inpatient stay. Inpatients may require skin grafting and reconstructive work given the extent of injury.”

purple red white and orange fireworks display

Photo by Public Domain Pictures on Pexels.com

Andrew also mentioned the risk posed by sparklers as their high burning temperature can cause deep burns. He advised close parental supervision, as well as keeping fireworks in a secure location away from children. Andrew also noted that alcohol is often a contributing factor in both traumatic and burn injury and to please consume it responsibly. He added, “Be safe and enjoy the holiday!”

Given the risks of injury and fire, particularly during a time when medical professionals and facilities are stressed, and that most fireworks are illegal in Ohio, the Northern Ohio Region of the American Red Cross recommends avoiding backyard fireworks to help ensure a safe and happy Fourth holiday.

couple holding sparklers

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

If you decide to light fireworks anyway, the Red Cross recommends that you:

  • Check first if it is legal in your area. (Only “trick and novelty” fireworks that smoke, pop, and/or sparkle are currently legal in Ohio).
  • Never give fireworks to small children, and never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials.
  • Always follow the instructions on the packaging.
  • Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution.
  • Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.
  • Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight a “dud.”
  • Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from children and pets.

These and other July Fourth safety tips are available here.

Fireworks are especially stressful for pets. The American Veterinary Medical Association offers suggestions here.

However you celebrate this Independence Day, we hope you have a safe and enjoyable experience.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Training keeps swimmers safe: Local lifeguards honored for their skills that saved child

By Jim McIntyre, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

June 17, 2020- Water Works Aquatic Center in Cuyahoga Falls reopened last week, and if past performance is any indicator of future results, swimmers there will be safe, thanks to the training received by lifeguards at the facility.

Six lifeguards who responded when a child failed to surface from the pool there last summer have been given the American Red Cross Lifesaver Award for Professional Responders. The incident, which led to their recognition, took place July 20, 2019. The six lifeguards, Cameron Bennett, Nick Little, Michael Petrecca, Vincent Petrecca, Dakota Shroyer and Alexandra Staubs, each played a role in the rescue.

Centennial Campaign 2015

The child suffered a heat-related event, sank below the surface of the water, vomited and went passive. The child was unconscious when pulled from the water, but was breathing and had a pulse. He was conscious but confused when EMS arrived. The child was admitted to the hospital for treatment and released the following day.

All six lifeguards received Red Cross lifeguard training, as well as First Aid/CPR/AED.

IMG_0201

Virtual presentation of the Lifesaver Award for Cameron, Nick, Michael, Vincent, Dakota and Alexandra

Kathleen Burt, aquatics manager at the City of Cuyahoga Falls nominated the lifeguards for the award. “I think the world of every single member of our team,” Burt said. “We truly are a family and a team, and I’m thankful for the effort they put forward.”

“You always hope you don’t have to use what you learned,” said senior guard Michael Petrecca. In describing the rescue, he said, “It was instinct. The facility has great leadership, and the training we have in place is pretty rigorous.”

Lifeguarding Manual 2012

The Lifesaving Award for Professional Responders is bestowed upon Red Cross-trained individuals who have an obligation to respond to an emergency, including police, firefighters, EMS, EMT, healthcare professionals and lifeguards. Since 2018, nearly 800 individuals have been honored worldwide for helping to save almost 350 lives.

Cuyahoga Falls Mayor Don Walters said, “You make us extremely proud. Thank you very much for being heroes.”

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Annual BASH event goes virtual, opening online auction to wider audience

By Olivia Wyles, American Red Cross volunteer

May 15, 2020- Each spring, the American Red Cross of Heartland, Stark and Muskingum Lakes holds a military-themed live and silent auction called BASH—loosely themed after the 1970s show “M*A*S*H*.” While the event is normally held at the MAPS Air Museum on the campus of the Akron-Canton Airport, in an effort to adapt to the current global health situation, this year’s BASH auction will take place virtually. The annual event raises tens of thousands of dollars to advance the mission of the Red Cross in Northern Ohio.

This year, BASH will be held online using a mobile auctioning platform called OneCause. In light of the current pandemic, the event has been rechristened, “BASH: Mission ImPossible. Not only will BASH continue amidst the recent challenges, but it will be available to more attendees than ever before with free and unlimited admission.

All of Northern Ohio’s past donors and volunteers will receive an email in the coming weeks. But everyone is invited to participate in this year’s event and can register by following the instructions at: redcross.org/bash20.

276701-02-Digital-Images-FINAL-1920x720

More than 50 amazing items will be featured this year along with the chance to win a ride in the Goodyear blimp. You will have the ability to place and track your bids from wherever you may be; as long as you have an internet connection and a device with a browser, you can participate!

“We appreciate all the support we get from our partners and donors, who make BASH such a smash every year,” said Kim Kroh, executive director of the Red Cross of Heartland, Stark and Muskingum Lakes. “The money raised through the auction every year helps us provide essential services to people who experience disasters like home fires.”

The auction will open on May 30 at 4 p.m. with a Facebook live kickoff at Facebook.com/NOHRedCross , hosted by Emmy award-winning journalist and current children’s book author Denise Dufala, and will continue until June 3 at 4 p.m. On opening day, those who are registered will receive a text message with a link that will allow you to start bidding. The home screen will allow you to browse different categories of items and you can search for specific items. The platform makes it easy to select the highest price you’d like to bid. Then you will receive alerts letting you know where you are in the bidding process. You’ll even receive a text message when you are no longer the highest bidder. At the end of the auction, you can view what you have won and pay directly through the site. Another way to participate, without bidding, is the ability to simply donate to the organization through the platform.

Some may have experience with similar online platforms while others may not. The important thing to remember is that we are all learning and experimenting together during this unprecedented time, but these adaptations are done with one goal in mind: “to raise money to help prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies during this pandemic.”

Mark your calendars for May 30 and invite all of your friends and family to participate in our BASH: Mission ImPossible event! We are looking forward to embracing this challenge while social distancing to continue helping those around us amidst the pandemic.

If you have any questions regarding the event, do not hesitate to contact Sarah Leonhard at sarah.leonhard@redcross.org.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

 

 

National Volunteer Week – opportunity to recognize the selflessness of Red Cross volunteers

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

April 17, 2020- National Volunteer Week is April 19 to 25, and it gives the American Red Cross of Northern Ohio an opportunity to honor the volunteers who are helping people in need, even during the uncertain times of the COVID-19 pandemic.

49623441071_038e69e43a_z

Emergencies don’t stop, and neither do local Red Cross volunteers, who are still providing care and comfort after disasters of all sizes, including home fires.

Next week, we will be featuring profiles of volunteers from the Northern Ohio Region, written by volunteers, right here on our regional blog. Be sure to subscribe to our blog; that way you will receive an email notification and will not miss any of these incredible volunteer-inspired articles.

49239538837_007f517a28_c

Due to this coronavirus outbreak, volunteers are providing relief services after home fires virtually, in coordination with local fire departments. Connecting with families by phone or video calls, we’re helping to provide support like lodging, health and mental health services, and emergency financial assistance, as well as link people to available recovery resources.

Here in Northern Ohio, there are 2,176 volunteers, who help support blood collections, provide emergency assistance to military families, respond to home fires in the middle of the night and so much more. These individuals are also among the more than 300,000 volunteers who comprise more than 90 percent of the national Red Cross workforce.

49415558883_2ccc9c489d_c

Red Cross volunteers keep our communities strong,” said Mike Parks, regional CEO for the Northern Ohio Region. “We honor these true heroes who give their time to help people in need.”

BECOME A VOLUNTEER Our need for volunteers is constant and continues to evolve as we navigate this coronavirus health crisis. Volunteer opportunities include supporting blood donations and delivering much-needed disaster services to your community. We even have a wide variety of volunteer-from-home opportunities available. Find out more.

Interested in serving? Everyone’s safety is our top priority. Please review Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance for people who are at higher risk for severe illness, consult your healthcare provider and follow local guidance.