Red Cross training in action: A lifesaving moment

By Ryan Lang, American Red Cross volunteer and board member

Anyone who’s received CPR and AED training through the American Red Cross will tell you they hope to never have to use it, but knowing it’s there just in case is comforting.

Michael Parks, Regional Executive of the Northeast Ohio Region of the American Red Cross, Alexis Starnes, Rachel D’Attoma, Executive Director of the American Red Cross of Greater Akron and the Mahoning Valley

Stow-Munroe Falls High School graduate Alexis Starnes would tell you that she’s grateful for the knowledge and training she received during her time as a Girl Scout and on December 30th, 2021 that training helped save the life of a small child.

That day, Alexis was working at the Small Steps Big Strides Childcare center in Stow as part of a real world work experience program through her school. She was feeding a 7-month-old girl baby food when the child stopped responding. “She stopped making noise and she wasn’t moving,” Alexis recalled during a recent interview with American Red Cross Regional Communications Director Jim McIntyre. Thanks to her Red Cross training, Alexis immediately recognized that these were signs that the child was choking. That’s when she unstrapped the child from her chair and began administering back blows, just like she learned in training.

Alexis was able to dislodge the food that was obstructing the baby’s airway. She saved the child’s life – something Alexis says she could have never done without her CPR and AED training from the Red Cross.

On June 8th, 2022, during the Lifesaving Award Program, Alexis was honored with the Certificate of Merit – the highest honor given by the Red Cross that is signed by the President of the United States. The award is given to someone who embodies the spirit of the Red Cross by using action to help alleviate human suffering in the face of an emergency. On that day, December 30th, 2021, that is exactly what Alexis did.

Michael Parks, Regional Executive of the Northeast Ohio Region of the American Red Cross, Erin Hosek, American Red Cross Instructor for the Girl Scouts of America, Alexis Starnes, Rachel D’Attoma, Executive Director of the American Red Cross of Greater Akron and the Mahoning Valley

Red Cross CPR and AED instructor and Girl Scout troop leader Erin Hosek, who taught Alexis her lifesaving skills, was also awarded the Lifesaving Instructor Award. After receiving her award, Erin pointed out that of her entire graduating Girl Scout troop, Alexis was the only one who chose to renew her certification two years after she had received her initial training. “And I’m glad she did,” Erin said, adding how proud she is of Alexis for using those lifesaving skills that day.

Alexis is continuing her education at Stark State University in the fall and will pursue a career in childcare. As for the young child Alexis saved, she says the girl still regularly attends the childcare facility in Stow and is a very happy and healthy baby.

Help stop the bleed to save a life

By Sam Puldeski, American Red Cross volunteer

Did you know that someone with a serious injury can experience life-threatening blood loss within as little as five minutes? When someone is injured and severely bleeding, it is imperative that bystanders help to quickly stop the blood loss.

The American Red Cross has some tips and information to follow if someone around you is experiencing a life-threatening loss of blood.

  • A half can of soda is the approximate amount of blood loss that is life
    threatening in an adult. For children and infants, the amount is
    proportionately less.
  • If blood is flowing continuously, squirting or pooling, take action
    immediately with these steps.
    a. Call 911.
    b. Ask someone to find a bleeding control kit, which should include
    items like gloves, gauze and a tourniquet.
    c. Apply the tourniquet and wait for the medical professionals to arrive.
    – If the injury is in on the head or torso, apply direct pressure
    with your hands or knee using gloves if they are available.
  • If you don’t have a medical tourniquet on hand, apply direct pressure with
    your hands or knee. Research has shown that homemade or improvised
    tourniquets don’t work. It is recommended to use manufactured tourniquets
    over homemade options.

It’s important for everyone to know how to respond in these types of emergencies should they ever be in a situation when someone needs help. The Red Cross offers classes to help teach people of all ages how to respond in an emergency. Some classes offer online instruction while other classes can be found at a location near you.

You can sign up for a class (or two!) by visiting: https://www.redcross.org/local/ohio/take-a-class.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Courage in the face of adversity

By Ryan Lang, Red Cross Volunteer

One of the definitions of courage you’ll find in the Oxford Dictionary is “strength in the face of pain or grief.”

Most people can say they’ve exhibited courage at least a few times in their life. Not as many can say that every day for the past year, just simply facing the day has been an act of courage.

Lynn Decker, Wadsworth School District Head Nurse

If you asked Lynn Decker about it, she’d probably tell you that was an overstatement. But after hearing her story about her fight against breast cancer and her unwavering commitment to the students and staff of the Wadsworth City School District, there was no question that Lynn embodied the true meaning of courage.

Lynn is the District Nurse for Wadsworth City Schools. She’s been a nurse for a long time, working in the ICU at Summa Akron City Hospital for more than a decade. In 2014, Lynn joined the district and the world of school nursing. “I thought it was just Band-Aids and ice packs; no big deal,” she said of the job, but as she quickly found, it was a lot more than that. It was much more critical care than she’d first anticipated, which Lynn says was a good thing, as that’s been her “bread and butter” throughout her career.

As the head of eight school nurses, Lynn says she quickly realized that there were several “areas of improvement” that needed to be addressed, one of those being CPR training. “I decided to get my certificate over at the Red Cross to become a certified instructor so I could help employees here, and also train coaches and administrators in CPR.”

June 22, 2018. Washington, DC. CPR stock photos by Roy Cox for the American Red Cross.

Throughout her years in the Wadsworth School District, Lynn trained dozens of her fellow employees in CPR, but only recently started training 8th grade students as well. “We realized how important it is for kids of a young age to learn CPR, and actually found that they are much easier to teach.” And they’re interested in learning, Lynn says: “They love it! They get super excited when we’re coming in with the mannequins and the mock AED machines and more.”  

And then, a setback.

It was about a year ago that Lynn was diagnosed with breast cancer, and in the middle of a pandemic, no less. “When the entire world is shutting down and you’re worried about hospital care and being able to get your surgery and your chemo, but still being part of running the district.” In spite of the diagnosis and facing a double mastectomy, Lynn still was concerned about her students and her staff in Wadsworth. “People still have to be taken care of and we need to be sure that our students and our faculty are safe.”

After finishing her chemo treatments and her surgery in May, Lynn was visiting her parents’ home for a small get together at their pool in the backyard a little more than a month later, in July last year. A neighbor had fallen into the pool and gone under the water. Without regard for herself and how she was feeling after her treatments, Lynn deployed her Red Cross training and did everything she could to help that family friend.

Unfortunately, there was no helping that friend. He eventually passed away. It was an experience Lynn says she’ll never forget and a real world reminder of how important her training is and how important it is that she pass along what she learned through the Red Cross.

Today, Lynn’s treatments continue. And Lynn continues to provide an invaluable, potentially life-saving skill set to her colleagues and her students alike. Additionally, she’s become an advocate for early and regular health screenings and now helps others in similar situations as hers face their diagnoses head on, with strength and with courage.

Akron athletic trainers recognized for using Red Cross training to save life

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.

John Walters and Kalie Jenkins are athletic trainers at the University of Akron.

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.

A screenshot from the virtual award presentation. Left to right/top to bottom: John Walters, Kalie Jenkins, Phil Ormandy, Max Elder, Susan Sparks, Red Cross Training Services, and Rachel Telegdy.

“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.

If you wish to nominate someone for a lifesaving award, visit redcross.org/take-a-class/lifesaving.

Student will live to see graduation because of duo’s quick action

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

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.

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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.”

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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.

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Alex McCaskey

“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

Red Cross continues to teach lifesaving skills

By Tim Poe, American Red Cross volunteer

June 5, 2020- The first week of June is National CPR and AED Awareness Week, which calls attention to the critical importance of these lifesaving skills and how many can be saved if more Americans learn CPR and how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED). While more than 1,600 people suffer cardiac arrest each day in the nation, immediate bystander CPR can double or triple the chance of survival.

CPR Classroom Stock Video and Photography Shoot 2018

Cardiac arrests and other emergencies do not cease during a pandemic. While immediate aid for someone suffering sudden cardiac arrest is crucial at any time, increased calls for assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic may increase the need for a relative or bystander to provide effective assistance.

“Bystanders that activate emergency response, initiate chest compressions, and apply and follow the directions of an AED have the greatest impact for the survival of the victim of a cardiac arrest,” said Rosanne Radziewicz, a registered nurse and volunteer with American Red Cross Disaster Health Services.

AED Trainer with participant 2

To help address this need, the Red Cross continues to provide CPR and AED training, whether online, in classrooms or a blend of the two.

A number of CPR and AED training and certification courses are available, many of which are tailored to the needs of workplace responders, professional rescuers, school staff, healthcare providers and the general public. Several courses are Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) compliant.

While online-only courses do not offer the opportunity to demonstrate skills to a certified instructor—and may not meet certain certification requirements—they are still an excellent choice for many. The expert-designed courses are interactive, engaging and can help provide the skills and confidence to save a life in an emergency.

CPR Stock Photography 2018

In addition, the Red Cross is offering special pricing on some online-only courses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For those who need in-person training and certification, essential Red Cross CPR, AED and first aid programs are available. These courses can be in an instructor-led classroom setting or a blend of online training with an in-class skills session. All in-person sessions use social-distancing approaches and follow the guidance of the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and state and local public health officials.

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For more information on online, in-person and blended classes or to register, visit redcross.org/takeaclass.

The Red Cross also offers a free First Aid app and Red Cross Skills for Amazon Alexa.

Edited Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

National CPR and AED Awareness Week highlights training importance

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

June 5, 2019- Today, people are used to seeing online news articles mentioning the tongue-and-cheek national holiday being celebrated that day, like National Cheese Pizza Day on September 7, National Old Stuff Day on March 2 or National Lipstick Day on July 29. Usually when we learn about these random celebrations, we often roll our eyes or chuckle and move on, but we often can miss when a day or week of true importance is upon us.

This week, the United States is celebrating National CPR and AED Awareness Week. In 2007, understanding the importance of proper CPR and Automated External Defibrillator (AED) training and usage to save the lives of Americans, Congress unanimously passed a resolution making June 1-7 a yearly week of awareness.

Lifeguarding Manual 2012

The American Red Cross offers many opportunities to gain training in these valuable lifesaving skills. Visit www.redcross.org/take-a-class to find in-person, online and simulated classes near you.

If you opt for in-person training, you will have the opportunity to practice your new skills on the BigRed™ LightSaving Manikin. The state of the art manikin will increase a student’s confidence that they can save a life in emergency situations, as it is equipped with three interrelated sets of lights that provide immediate feedback to students on how they are performing CPR. Only the proper technique will show the success of blood circulating from the heart to the brain which improves a sudden cardiac arrest victim’s chance of survival.

CPR Classroom Stock Video and Photography Shoot 2018

Sharon Nicastro of Independence, Ohio is an individual who is familiar with Red Cross training and the importance of every person being prepared to help save a life.

Sharon has been a Red Cross CPR and first aid instructor in Northeast Ohio for 28 years. In fact, her role as a Red Cross instructor and seeing firsthand the impact it has on saving lives, led her to becoming an EMT.

For those who want to be CPR and AED trained but are on the fence because they are concerned it will have no impact on saving a life, Sharon has a few words of encouragement.

“It is important for people to learn CPR because bystanders can recognize that someone is suffering a cardiac emergency, call 9-1-1, perform CPR, and use an AED in the minutes before EMS arrives,” stated Sharon. “The care provided in those few minutes is just as critical as the care provided by EMS and hospital personnel. Those few minutes can mean the difference between life and death.”

Sharon

Sharon Nicastro

Jan and John Durkalski’s story highlights Sharon’s point.

Jan and John were on a run together when John suffered a sudden cardiac arrest and collapsed. Jan used her recent CPR training to help save her husband’s life.

Watch the below video to learn more about the Durkalski’s story and the importance of CPR/AED training:

You can download the free Red Cross First Aid App which puts instant access to information on handling the most common first aid emergencies, including sudden cardiac arrest, at your fingertips. Download by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in your app store or at redcross.org/apps.

Join the Red Cross in celebrating National CPR and AED Awareness Week by signing up for a training class today!

A hero saves a life with CPR

Honored with National Certificate of Merit

By Jim McIntyre, American Red Cross

March 29, 2019 – Three weeks.  That’s the amount of time that elapsed between Sheila Burke’s certification for American Red Cross Adult First Aid/CPR/AED, and the incident that required her intervention.

Three weeks after receiving her certificate for learning the lifesaving skill in 2018, Sheila found herself performing CPR on a woman who had overdosed on drugs.  It happened at Monarch House, a sober living environment dedicated to women in recovery from addiction.  Monarch House is part of Recovery Resources, where Sheila was an employee.

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Sheila Burke

“I never thought I’d ever use CPR in my lifetime, and there I was, three weeks after taking the course,” she said prior to a recent meeting of the Board of Directors of the Red Cross Greater Cleveland Chapter.  She was invited to attend the meeting and to receive the American Red Cross Certificate or Merit, 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 certificate bears the signature of the President of the United States, who is the honorary chairman of the Red Cross, and the signature of the chair of the American Red Cross.

The certificate was accompanied by a citation, which reads, in part, ” Ms. Burke was taking part in a meeting when she was witness to a woman starting to lose consciousness in her chair.  Ms. Burke jumped into action and ran to the victim to check for signs of life. The woman has stopped breathing, did not have a pulse and was turning blue.   After assessing the situation, Ms. Burke instructed a bystander to call 9-1-1.  She started to perform CPR.  Ms. Burke had suspected an overdose of drugs and asked a bystander to retrieve a dose of Naloxone, which was administered.  The woman appeared to regain color and signs of life.”

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Greater Cleveland Chapter Board Chair Chris Mapes, left, Sheila Burke, and Mike Parks

“We are honored to recognize Sheila for her quick-thinking and decisive action,” said Mike Parks, Regional CEO of the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio.  “She is a testament to the value of every person learning First Aid and CPR, and how to use an AED.”

Red Cross courses are listed on our website.  You may also call 1-800-RED CROSS for information on First Aid/CPR/AED, Lifeguard, Swimming, and Babysitting courses.

Photo credit: Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

 

Greater Cleveland Heroes Honored

It’s fitting, but not intentional, that National Good Samaritan Day fell the day before we honored Greater Cleveland Heroes.

The day is also known as Good Samaritan Involvement Day. It is a day for unselfish actions to help those in need and to celebrate kindness.

The term “Good Samaritan” comes from the Bible parable where a Samaritan helped a stranger who had been robbed and beaten and left to die by the side of the road.  The Samaritan not only cleaned the man’s wounds and clothed him, but took him to an inn where he paid for the man’s care.

The term is used today to describe those who perform acts of kindness for those in need, especially those who are strangers.  Like the seven individuals we honored on March 15.

About 500 people attended the 2018 Greater Cleveland Heroes Award ceremony at the Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland, where the Cleveland Indians received the Community Leader Award.  See our photo album of the event here.

In a nutshell…

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Patrolman Christopher Olup and Sergeant Robert Prochazka

Patrolman Christopher Olup and Sergeant Robert Prochazka of the Willowick Police Department risked their own lives to enter a burning house and pull a disabled man to safety.

 

 

 

Nurse Janine Smalley of the Cleveland VA Medical Center volunteered to treat thousands of veterans in Puerto Rico following the devastation of Hurricane Maria.

Gilbert DiSanto of Miceli Dairy used an AED and performed CPR to save the life of a man who had collapsed near the company’s headquarters in Cleveland.

 

 

Dana Walling was a customer at Classic BMW in Willoughby Hills when he helped two wounded police officers subdue a gunman.

Jared Lee of the MetroHealth System improvised by using the drawstring from his scrubs as a tourniquet on a severely injured victim of a car crash.

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John and Jan Durkalski

Jan Durkalski performed CPR and ran for help after her husband collapsed during a run in the Cleveland Metroparks, saving his life.

These seven individuals are the very definition of “Good Samaritans,” and we are proud to honor them for their selfless acts.

See our heroes tell their stories in their own words here.

We honored 12 Heroes earlier this month in Akron, at the 2018 Acts of Courage awards in the Summit, Portage and Medina Counties Chapter.  And coming in June, the Acts of Courage awards in Youngstown will honor heroes from our Lake to River Chapter.

 

 

Ordinary People Honored for Taking Extraordinary Action

Recognized with Highest Award the Red Cross Offers

Lifesavers.  When we hear that word, we think of surgeons, firefighters, police officers, lifeguards.

Add teacher and massage therapist to the list.

Two people who have been certified by the Red Cross for their lifesaving skills have now been honored after putting those skills to use.

Certificates of Merit were awarded to Natasha Alexander-Cooley and Molly O’Donnell.  The certificates, signed by President Barack Obama, cite their “selfless and humane action in sustaining a life.”  They are the highest award given by the Red Cross to someone who sustains or saves a life by using the skills learned during Red Cross training.

Natasha, an educator at Tremont Montessori School in Cleveland, was honored for saving the life of a choking student, by performing several abdominal thrusts until food was dislodged from the choking boy’s throat.

Molly, a licesned massage therapist and trained First Aid/CPR/AED instructor, was cited for her efforts to save the life of her Instructor Trainer, who suffered cardiac arrest prior to the start of their class earlier this year.

“The Red Cross trains people to react to emergency situations, and these individuals did exactly what they were trained to do,” said Charlotte Rerko, Regional COO and a Registered Nurse.   “It was an honor to present these awards to them.”

Charlotte was also honored with a Certificate of Extraordinary Personal Action.  She also responded to the stricken CPR Instructor.

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Mike Parks, Charlotte Rerko and Shawn Riley

The awards were presented by Mike Parks, Regional CEO, and Shawn Riley, Board Chair, during the quarterly meeting of the Greater Cleveland Chapter Board of Directors on Thursday, December 8.  There’s a photo gallery from the meeting on the Greater Cleveland Chapter Facebook page.

The Red Cross teaches not only First Aid/CPR/AED, but also Basic Life Support, Babysitting and Childcare, and Lifeguarding.  Go to redcross.org/take-a-class to learn these live saving skills.  You may be called on someday to take extraordinary action in order to save a life.