Happy Anniversary, American Red Cross

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

May 21, 2020- William Lawrence, former Republican US Representative from Ohio, was asked to attend a meeting held by Clara Barton on May 12, 1881. She had recently returned from working with the International Red Cross during the Franco-Prussian War, and was determined to start a similar organization in the United States

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James Garfield, 20th President – Photo by Doug Bardwell, Red Cross volunteer

Thanks to her persuasiveness, Lawrence went to fellow Ohioan, President James Garfield, to argue for the creation of an American Red Cross. In a mere nine days from the date of the original meeting, the president signed the declaration creating what was then known as the American National Red Cross on May 21st.

The following year, Barton and Lawrence convinced the U.S. to ratify the Geneva Conventions, guaranteeing humanitarian treatment during wartime.

139 Years of “Being There” for us

Since the beginning in 1881, the Red Cross has grown in response to our humanitarian needs and has five lines of service.

Disaster Services was one of the first responses by the new Red Cross. On May 31, 1889, a dam broke flooding Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Clara Barton and the Red Cross were credited with providing housing and relief to hundreds of the survivors.

Service to the Armed Forces was one of Barton’s initial goals, and she’d be proud to know of how it’s expanded over the years. One look at the Hero App and it’s evident how much the Red Cross provides for our military.

Blood Services provides 40% of the nation’s blood needs and now is beginning to collect convalescent plasma in the fight against COVID-19.

Training Services continues to save lives through first aid, CPR training, swimming instruction, baby sitting and more.

International Services is ready when global disasters happen, deploying local members to assist wherever needed.

How you can help

In these strange times, no matter what your situation, you can be a part of the Red Cross mission.  Donations are always needed, and even if unable to donate financially, maybe you could donate some time to help in our mission. Volunteers are needed now for both Disaster Services and Blood Services here in Northern Ohio.  Virtual positions even exist for those who can’t leave home. Find out more here and complete an online application.

SAF volunteer sews face masks to assist VA hospital

By Eilene E. Guy, American Red Cross

April 10, 2020- Jennifer Blatnik is delighted to be using her quilt-making skills to fill a vital need in the face of COVID-19.

Working through the Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) program of the American Red Cross, Jennifer is turning out dozens of face masks for use at the Louis Stokes VA Medical Center in Cleveland.

In her professional life, Jennifer actually works at the VA center: She talks with geriatric patients who are admitted through the emergency room and their families to find out what other services – beyond immediate medical care – they need to live successfully at home.

Jennifer

Jennifer Blatnik

“I love it,” she says of her job, so the veteran of 20 years in the Navy decided to get her degree in social work. That led her to the SAF, where she can fulfill her course requirement for hands-on social work experience.

“When I saw something about making masks, I thought, ‘I could totally whip out a whole bunch of those’.”

Jennifer turns out close-fitting “bird beak” style masks, which have space for an extra filter layer made of furnace vent material.

So far, the full-time worker, full-time student and full-time mom has churned out more than four dozen of the colorful – but vital – face coverings.

Meanwhile, Jeanette Petrick is adding homemade face masks to her Red Cross volunteer portfolio. Normally, she mans the SAF coffee and cookies cart every Friday at the VA center.

“I’m in the process of making 200 masks for whoever can use them at the VA,” she said. “As part of the SAF, we wanted to help, as so many are, during this health crisis.”

Facemasks

Just this week Jennifer recognized one of her creations on a co-worker. “That’s one of my masks!” she thought. “It was really cool,” to know she could put her hobby to serious purpose.

Meanwhile, her experience with the Red Cross has given her a new perspective.

“It makes me appreciate everyone who has ever volunteered,” she said. “It’s all for the greater good.”

For more information about Red Cross volunteer activities to support our men and women in uniform and our veterans, contact Jessica Tischler, Regional Director, Service to Armed Forces & International Services at Jessica.tischler@redcross.org or 216-496-2998, or Regional SAF Volunteer Lead Sharon Nicastro at Sharon.nicastro@redcross.org or 216-469-0805.

The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors

Red Cross CPR training keeps love between friends alive

Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to consider learning CPR 

By Eilene E. Guy, American Red Cross volunteer

February 12, 2020- Todd Parish was thinking about those near and dear to him – his wife and five children – when he took American Red Cross first aid and CPR training. It turned out to be one of his grownup buddies who needed his lifesaving help.

When Joe Dye tripped and fell down the basement stairs, landing on the front of his skull, the impact shut down his breathing and profuse bleeding filled his nose and mouth. Quickly, Joe started turning blue.

CPR Stock Photography 2018

Todd was just leaving the Dye house when he heard Joe’s wife screaming. Fortunately, he knew what to do: Check, call and care.

He checked to be sure Joe was alive, told Joe’s wife to call 9-1-1 and then cared for Joe right there by giving him literally “the breath of life.”

CPR Stock Photography 2018

Rescue squadsmen credited Todd with saving Joe’s life. “When someone’s turning blue, that’s what’s happening – oxygen starvation,” paramedic Don Henry said. “And when you’re without air for six minutes, the brain begins to die.”

Every year, millions of people like Todd learn lifesaving first aid and CPR/AED skills from the Red Cross, which means that millions more are within the “circle of care” those trained responders can offer.

CPR Classroom Stock Video and Photography Shoot 2018

Do you really know how to respond if a loved one is having a heart attack, an asthma attack or a diabetic emergency? Could you confidently help someone choking, bleeding severely or having a seizure?

The Red Cross offers first aid and CPR/AED training suited to all types of learners: traditional in-person classes, self-paced online courses and blended presentations that include interactive instruction and in-person skills sessions.

CPR Stock Photography 2018

Treat your loved ones, friends and even strangers to a valentine that never gathers dust: Sign up today for first aid and CPR/AED training (and urge them to do the same for you)!

Go to redcross.org and click the “Training and Certification” tab or call 1-800-RED CROSS to find the most convenient training opportunity for you. Don’t put it off: Like Todd, you never know when you’ll be in the position to save a life.

“Must have” ingredients for Thanksgiving

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

November 20, 2019- Thanksgiving is one of the oldest traditions in our country, begun in the 16th century. While the Pilgrims usually get credit for the holiday, it wasn’t until 1941 that President Roosevelt signed into law a resolution that it always be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November.

Turkey

To fully appreciate Thanksgiving, there are many essentials that have become synonymous with this holiday:

  • Foods of the season – Turkey is traditional; but I know many who cheat and enjoy ham instead. Just don’t forget the sweet potatoes and cranberry.
  • Charity – Food collections for those in need and/or delivered dinners ensure that everyone shares in the bounties we enjoy here in Northeast Ohio.
  • Giving thanks – No matter what religion your family shares, it’s a perfect time to give thanks to the Almighty for our freedom to worship and live however we like.
  • Parades – Perfect to keep the kids busy while the cook starts prepping the dinner. (Unfortunately, the closest one is in Detroit. How about watching the Macy’s parade on TV?)
  • Football – Every year (since 1978) we get to watch the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys – whether we want to or not.
  • Visiting relatives – This four-day weekend is usually one of the busiest travel periods of the year.

And to safely enjoy the holiday, the American Red Cross has come up with 20 tips to make sure your travel and your culinary exploits are enjoyed safely. This 40-second video hits the essentials for cooks.

Veggie Turkey

As a disaster responder, I know firsthand there is nothing worse than to go out and visit someone who’s lost their home during the holidays. Take a moment, review the tips and set your family up for a joyous holiday.

Every eight minutes, donations to the Red Cross help someone affected by a disaster—most often, home fires. You can help save lives by making a financial donation to support our mission, signing up to become a volunteer or taking steps to protect your own family from home fires. Visit redcross.org to learn more.

 

All photos by Doug Bardwell

Edited By Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Red Cross internship offers unique perspective and community-building skills for local social work students

By Jason Copsey, American Red Cross volunteer

November 8, 2019 – When Jessi Graber, a senior in Cleveland State University’s School of Social Work was considering internship opportunities, she was surprised to see ‘American Red Cross Disaster Relief’ as an option.

“I thought it was interesting because I knew about the Red Cross blood blood drives, but I never considered the Red Cross for case work,” said Jessi. “I got excited when I learned how much the Red Cross helps families and supports the community.”Jessi

Jessi applied to become a Red Cross Disaster Relief intern through her program at CSU. The American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio partners with Cleveland State University to place students in internship programs, a requirement for graduates of its School of Social Work.

                    Jessi Graber

“The internship program is a great opportunity for students to experience a unique side of social work,” said Ben Bellucci, Disaster Program Manager, American Red Cross of Greater Cleveland.

Out of more than a dozen applicants each year, five CSU students become interns in the Red Cross Disaster Services office. Interns work at the Red Cross between 13 and 18 hours per week supporting the recovery side of the Red Cross Disaster Program. They assist individuals and families displaced by man-made or natural disasters. A number of CSU students have also taken on support of the complete cycle of disaster services, including preparedness, response and recovery.

“We start each internship by building a plan for continual development,” said Ben. “Each week students provide their own assessment of themselves, how they did for the week and how they feel they are progressing in the internship. I add input as a supervisor on their progress toward achieving goals.”

Red Cross interns work for two semesters, beginning in August and ending in May. The program is structured to establish a baseline through the first semester and develop leadership and management skills during the second. Case work often adds context to class work for Red Cross interns.

“The social work competencies can be very academic in a classroom setting,” said Jessi. “But they come to life in the internship. I get to refer back to the things I’m learning, and it is a completely different perspective.”

Jessi2

One of the strongest benefits of the Red Cross Disaster Relief internship is the unique pace. At the state and county levels, it is not uncommon for case workers to follow clients for a year or more. At the Red Cross, clients cycle through in 35 days, on average.

“Because it is such a fast environment, building a relationship quickly is important,” explained Ben. “Our interns become extremely detail-oriented and learn to make connections quickly. By the time they graduate, they are able to identify gaps and recovery roadblocks immediately and know how to work around them.”

For Jessi, the best part about the experience so far has been building relationships with clients and seeing a different side of the community. She spends time each day checking in with clients via phone, email or in person, ensuring their needs are being met and that progress is made.

“No two days are alike, because no two clients are alike,” said Jessi. “Being able to help families who have experienced significant trauma is why I became interested in case work in the first place.”

For more information on internships with the Red Cross, visit our website.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

You can give blood even after getting a flu shot

Vaccination Does Not Prevent Blood Donation

October 16, 2019- Flu season is underway, and it is expected that more than half of the U.S. population will get a flu vaccine this year according to the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID). However, the American Red Cross does not defer individuals from donating blood after receiving the influenza vaccine if they are symptom-free and meet all other donation eligibility requirements.

Did you read that?  You can still give blood, even after getting a flu shot!

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Important Flu and Blood Facts

The flu vaccine can be administered by a flu shot or intranasal. Neither are cause for a blood donation deferral and there is no risk of transmitting the influenza virus after receiving the vaccine. Additionally, influenza virus has not been shown to be transmitted through blood transfusion.

If you have the flu, it is important to wait until you no longer have symptoms and have recovered completely before attempting to donate. All blood donors must feel healthy and well on the day of donation.

Preventing the Flu

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), millions of people in this country get sick with flu every year, hundreds of thousands are hospitalized and, unfortunately, tens of thousands die. The best way to help avoid getting influenza is to get vaccinated every year.

While seasonal influenza (flu) viruses are detected year-round in the United States, flu viruses are most common during the fall and winter. Influenza activity often begins to increase in October and most times peaks between December and February, although activity can last as late as May. It takes about two weeks after receiving your vaccine for the antibodies that protect against flu to develop in the body so it’s important to get your vaccine now.

The CDC recommends that everyone be vaccinated by the end of October. Children 6 months through 8 years of age who need 2 doses should receive their first dose as soon as possible after vaccine becomes available to allow the second dose (which must be administered at least 4 weeks later) to be received by the end of October.

AT HIGH RISK FOR FLU:

  • Adults 65 years and older
  • Children younger than 2 years old – although all children younger than 5 years old are considered at high risk for serious flu complications, the highest risk is for those younger than 2 years old, with the highest hospitalization and death rates among infants younger than 6 months old.
  • Pregnant women and women up to 2 weeks after the end of pregnancy
  • People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities

The CDC also reports people with the following health and age factors are also at an increased risk of getting serious complications from the flu:

  • Asthma
  • Neurologic and neurodevelopment conditions
  • Blood disorders
  • Chronic lung disease
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disorders
  • Liver disorders
  • Metabolic disorders
  • People who are obese with a body mass index [BMI] of 40 or higher
  • People younger than 19 years of age on long-term aspirin- or salicylate-containing medications.
  • People with a weakened immune system due to disease or medications

Flu vaccine is available now in many locations such as your doctor’s office, pharmacies, grocery stores and health departments. Your vaccine will help protect you throughout the 2019-2020 flu season.

flusafety

DO I HAVE THE FLU? The common signs of influenza are high fever, severe body aches, headache, being extremely tired, sore throat, cough, runny or stuffy nose and vomiting and/or diarrhea (which is more common in children). If you think you have the flu, call your health care provider. Seek immediate care if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Fast breathing, trouble breathing or bluish skin color.
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen (adults).
  • Confusion or sudden dizziness.
  • Not drinking enough fluids, not being able to eat, or severe or persistent vomiting.
  • Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough.
  • Not waking up, being so irritable that the child does not want to be held or not interacting (children).
  • Fever with a rash (children).
  • No tears when crying or significantly fewer wet diapers than normal (children).

 YOU CAN HELP STOP THE FLU FROM SPREADING

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing and throw the tissue away after use. If a tissue isn’t available, cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hands.
  • Wash hands often, especially after coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand-sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home if you’re sick.

More information about how to help keep you and your loved ones protected from the flu is available on this website and in the free Red Cross First Aid App. See all the Red Cross apps at redcross.org/mobileapps.

How Healthy Individuals Can Donate Blood

Learn more about how to stay healthy this flu season so you can help patients in need. You can find more information about preventing the flu at redcross.org, as well as receive guidance on the flu from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Schedule an appointment to give blood with the American Red Cross by visiting RedCrossBlood.org, using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, calling 1-800-RED-CROSS or activating the Blood Scheduling Skill for Amazon Alexa.

All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in.

You must be 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and be in generally good health to be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

You can save time at your next donation by using RapidPass® to complete your pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of your donation, before arriving at the blood drive or donation center. To get started, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Red Cross Blood Donor App.

Local volunteers preparing to help residents affected by Dorian

Hurricane Dorian made landfall Sunday afternoon in the Bahamas as a Category 5 storm leaving behind catastrophic damage—from destroyed homes to contaminated water sources. While a complete picture of the damage isn’t available yet, it’s clear the storm is dealing a devastating blow to families on the islands.

Bahamas Red Cross volunteers and pre-positioned relief supplies—such as tarps, hygiene items, jerrycans, and hand-crank cell phone chargers—are at the ready.

Hurricane Dorian 2019

September 1, 2019. Orlando, Florida. Seven-year-old Deshawa hold his sister, 1-year-old Keelen, while talking with a Red Cross worker at the Evans High School evacuation center. The children’s family came to the evacuation center to escape the expected high winds and torrential rainfall associated with Hurricane Dorian. Photo credit: Daniel Cima/American Red Cross

In the U.S., the American Red Cross is preparing to help tens of thousands of people in the path of Hurricane Dorian as the extremely dangerous storm tracks towards the southeast coast. While the exact path of Dorian is still uncertain, millions of people live in areas that could be impacted by wind, rain, flooding and a high storm surge, even if the storm doesn’t make direct landfall on the coast.

The Red Cross is coordinating with community partners and emergency responders to prepare evacuation centers as planning estimates indicate as many as 60,000 people in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina may need help. Sunday night, some 2,600 people sought refuge in 60 Red Cross and community evacuation shelters in Florida. We are mobilizing over 1,600 trained volunteers from all over the country, including 14 from Northeast Ohio.

Media coverage of Red Cross volunteers preparing to deploy on Sunday was extensive

Two emergency response vehicles from the region are among the 110 vehicles being deployed, and 99 tractor-trailer loads full of relief supplies, including cots, blankets and 63,000 ready-to-eat meals are on the way.

While the Red Cross does not typically collect and distribute blood in Florida, we have sent approximately 350 blood products to local blood centers there to ensure patients in need continue to have access to lifesaving blood. The Red Cross has also pre-positioned additional blood products and stocked many of our hospitals to capacity in areas of the Southeast likely to be impacted by the storm early next week.