Five ways you can give back this World Humanitarian Day

By Samantha Pudelski, American Red Cross volunteer

August 4, 2022. Fleming-Neon, Kentucky. American Red Cross volunteer Angela Daniel distributes a hot meal to those affected by the Kentucky flooding disaster. Emergency Response Vehicle make their way to various locations, bringing nourishing food and a word of encouragement to communities as they begin to recover. Photo by Kevin Suttlehan/American Red Cross

World Humanitarian Day is a day when we are all encouraged to come together and advocate for the well-being, survival and dignity of people who have experienced or are experiencing crisis around the world. This year’s theme from the United Nations is “It Takes A Village”—reminding us that whenever there are people in crisis, there are others who are there to help them. This year, they shine a light on the hundreds of thousands of volunteers, professionals and crisis-affected people who deliver urgent health care, shelter, food, protection, water and much more.

It’s a perfect day to recognize the thousands of dedicated volunteers and workers of the American Red Cross. They deliver lifesaving assistance every hour of every day, responding to an average of more than 60,000 disasters every year.

As we reflect on the meaning of this day, we are also encouraged to take action as humanitarians ourselves. This World Humanitarian Day, the Northern Ohio Region of the Red Cross has five ways you can give back and help to make the world a better place.

A blood donor giving blood at the 2022 Cleveland Browns blood drive in July

Donate Blood
Did you know that every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood or platelets? Giving back by donating blood can help ensure those who are in need of blood transfusions, including individuals undergoing surgery, cancer treatment, treatment for chronic illness and traumatic injuries.

If you are able to donate blood, it is a relatively easy process –
It only takes about one hour and 15 minutes, with the actual donation of whole
blood taking approximately eight to ten minutes.
Individuals can donate blood more than once per year. you can donate every
In most states, donors can start donating at age 17 and some states allowing
16-year-olds to donate with a signed parental consent form. You also must be
at least 110 pounds and be in good health.
Blood donor drives are held at locations throughout Northern Ohio. To find an
upcoming blood drive near you, click here.

Volunteer
Volunteering your time for a cause you believe in can have a huge impact on your community and the world. The Red Cross offers a variety of ways that you can give back depending on your skills, interests and time available. In fact, 90% of the Red Cross workforce are volunteers. They support areas such as blood drives, blood donation transports, health, mental health and spiritual needs, administrative support roles, supporting our armed forces and working with those who affected by natural disasters.

Make a Donation
Many non-profit organizations rely on generous donations from supporters. For many organizations, every dollar donated makes a difference. Some organizations, like the Red Cross, provide other ways for individuals to donate in addition to financial contributions.

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

Learn a Lifesaving Skill
The Red Cross has been teaching emergency and safety training for more than a century. You can learn first aid, be trained in administering CPR or using an AED, to be prepared for when a need for these skills arises. You can review and sign up for a class here.

Advocate
Advocacy is an important way you can be a humanitarian. In order to advocate, it is equally important to educate yourself on the topics, organizations or causes you would like to advance. Here are a few simple ways you can get started.

Follow organizations on social media. For example, you can follow the Red Cross and the Northern Ohio Region of the Red Cross on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and TikTok just to name a few. Not only do they post facts and updates about the work that they are doing, but they also provide links for more information.
Participate in events like Turn and Test and other events that help to spread the word about a particular cause. Share information with friends and family and learn about causes that they are passionate about.

Read about the work of three Red Cross humanitarians here.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, Red Cross Volunteer

Posted by Ryan Lang, Red Cross Volunteer




Students can develop skills and help communities over summer break

By Tim Poe, American Red Cross volunteer

On this blog, we have been fortunate to share the achievements and life stories of several extraordinary individuals in Northern Ohio. These include several young people who have applied life-saving skills learned from the American Red Cross, like Alexis Starnes and Travis Shrout, organized a blood drive, like Andrew Lazowski, and worked as advocates, like Makenzie Nance. There are many others who have assisted their communities, helped save lives, developed skills that will help them throughout their lives and careers, and built lasting friendships.

If you are a student, recent graduate, or parent searching for activities during the summer break, the Red Cross offers an array of classes and volunteer opportunities.

Red Cross classes are offered throughout the summer in online, in-person, and blended formats. The Red Cross encourages everyone to learn first aid, CPR, and how to use an AED. Time is critical during a cardiac arrest; chances of survival double or triple if CPR is administered or an AED is used within the first few minutes.

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

In addition, the Red Cross offers Babysitting Training for students between 11 and 15 years of age. Advanced Child Care courses are available for students 16 years and older. The babysitting classes feature topics such as choosing age-appropriate activities, basic child care (including bottle feeding), child behavior, leadership, professionalism, safety, starting a babysitting business, and more. These courses also cover emergency and first aid skills such as bee stings, allergic reactions, asthma, burns and choking. Advanced Child Care course participants learn the most common child care routines and behavior along with safety inside and outside the home, including driving with children and water safety.

For those seeking to volunteer, opportunities are available depending on age, such as assisting or organizing blood drives, participating in Red Cross Clubs, even streaming to help support Red Cross disaster relief efforts.

Northern Ohio volunteer opportunities are here. Blood Donor Ambassadors are especially needed.

If you are interested in organizing a blood drive, and possibly earning a scholarship, please see the Leaders Save Lives page.

Additional information is available on the Red Cross Youth page.

Blood donors are also needed. If you are 17 or older (16 with parental/guardian consent in some cases), please consider donating. Information for teen donors is here.

My first experience with the Red Cross was assisting a blood drive at my high school and learning CPR. While that was decades ago, the experience and skills have had a positive influence ever since, helping instill a desire to assist others and leading to volunteering as an adult. I have also been fortunate to work alongside many dedicated, caring people. It began with a Red Cross sign-up sheet (I predate the internet) and a willingness to learn and help.

Posted by Ryan Lang, American Red Cross volunteer and board member

Who me? Learn AED during CPR AED Week 2022

By Doug Bardwell, Red Cross volunteer

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

Today, June 7th marks the end of National CPR and AED Awareness Week. What . . . you don’t even know what AED is? It stands for Automated External Defibrillator – more commonly seen as the paddles that doctors, nurses or paramedics use to resuscitate someone whose heart has stopped pumping. But you, too, could quickly learn to use them to save someone’s life.

As more businesses, recreation centers, swimming pools, movie theaters, etc., have AEDs available, wouldn’t it be great if you knew how to use them? Through American Red Cross-sponsored classes, you can, and in just one class.

I took a CPR and AED class at the Red Cross headquarters in downtown Cleveland last year, and it was a fun and easy refresher for the courses I had taken three years earlier. (They suggest every two years for refreshers — my bad.)

A series of related classes can be taken individually or combined, pertaining to your needs. Some people need certification for construction job site requirements, while others might need it for school, but there are class combinations for everyone. CPR and AED are ideally taken together.

Online-only classes can be found here, but I’d highly suggest combining online and in-person courses – referred to as blended learning. Visit redcross.org/take-a-class and then input your desired location and select CPR or AED. You’ll likely find over 100 choices of classes.

February 21-22, 2018. Washington, DC CPR Classroom Stock Video and Photography Shoot 2018 Photos by Dennis Drenner/American Red Cross

A recent CPR/AED student, Steve Riv explained it this way: “I was worried it would be more video instruction and not so much hands-on. I actually really ended up loving the video modules, followed by the in-class instruction. Our instructor was very articulate in explaining the CPR and AED procedures. And, yes, you do get to practice with a “dummy.” I think that the instructor made something that can be mundane an enjoyable and memorable experience.”

Read more here, and schedule that class. More than one person thought they would never need the training but ended up saving someone’s life. Next time, it could be YOU.

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

Red Cross salutes nurses, ‘angels’ of its mercy mission

By Eilene E. Guy, American Red Cross volunteer

Nurses are vital to delivering the lifesaving services of the American Red Cross – an organization founded by Clara Barton, whose own nursing during the Civil War earned her the title “Angel of the Battlefield.”

“Nurses fill so many roles in the Red Cross. We couldn’t function without them,” said Barb Thomas, recovery manager for the Red Cross Northern Ohio Region.

Nationwide, more than 20,000 Red Cross nurses – both paid and volunteer – do everything from caring for disaster victims to working in military hospitals to collecting lifesaving blood. They teach CPR/first aid and disaster preparedness, and even serve in the management and governance of the Red Cross itself.

“Nurses are integral to what we do at the Red Cross, so we try to keep them engaged and be sure they know how much we appreciate them,” Barb said. “We don’t just salute them during National Nurses Week (starting today), but all year long.”

Barb introduced me to two of the dozens of nurses in northern Ohio who apply their time and skills to those who need them, near and far.

Phyllis Esposito of Massillon, Ohio, is enthusiastic about her role in Red Cross disaster health services.

Phyllis Esposito, Red Cross volunteer, with Tim Reichel, Disaster Program Manager, Heartland, Stark and Muskingum Lakes Chapter

“I can honestly say, I talk up the Red Cross every time I can,” she said. “It’s such a rewarding thing. My only regret is, why didn’t I do this 10 years earlier?”

After more than 50 years as an emergency room nurse, Phyllis understands how stressed people can be in the wake of an emergency. She knows how to help calm them, assess their health-related needs and – most importantly – fill those needs.

That can range from getting glasses, dentures or refills for medications lost in a fire evacuation to replacing a child’s aerosol machine or a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine destroyed by a tornado or flood.

Early in her Red Cross “career,” Phyllis was glad to travel to disaster sites, to look after the medical needs of home fire victims, shelter residents or even Red Cross volunteers. But she said as she’s gotten older, she’s glad to be able to serve virtually, reaching out by phone all the way to victims of a hurricane in Louisiana, for example.

This kind of long-distance service is a vital and efficient way for the Red Cross to help local disaster survivors or even a whole community where medical resources are overwhelmed.

“Phyllis is a disaster health service star,” Barb said. “She’s eager to learn as we evolve our ways of helping people, especially as we adjusted to COVID. And her personality just lets people know, there’s light at the end of this dark tunnel they’re in, after a disaster.”

Jennifer Dremann of Deerfield, Ohio, has a special rapport with those who’ve experienced tragedy in the course of a disaster.

Jennifer Dremann, Red Cross volunteer

“I lost my brother in a house fire in 1996; he was 19 years old” when he succumbed to smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide, she said. “He’s why I became a nurse.”

When Jennifer heard about what the Red Cross does, particularly for home fire victims, she knew this was a fit for her. “I’ve lived it; I’ve lost somebody. I’ve done several cases where somebody has passed. It’s got to be the absolute worst nightmare, especially when a child has perished.”

She’s also moved by cases involving an elderly adult who doesn’t have family or social support nearby.

Like Phyllis, she works with folks by phone, day or night, finding out what their disaster-related medical needs are and helping them replace prescriptions and/or medical equipment, navigating insurance and then dipping into Red Cross funds if necessary.

But perhaps the most important help she can give is to listen, not just to survivors’ physical needs but to their emotional wounds. “People are like, ‘You volunteer to do this?’ she said. “I don’t think most people realize what the Red Cross does, and how rewarding it is.”

The Red Cross is proud to have tens of thousands of skilled, compassionate nurses like Phyllis and Jennifer on the team, ready across the country and around the clock to help people prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters.

To learn more about the many services of the Red Cross and how you can be involved as a volunteer, financial supporter or blood donor, go to redcross.org.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Local pharmacist recognized with national Red Cross Lifesaving Award

By Christy Peters, American Red Cross

Mike Parks, CEO of the Northern Ohio Region of the American Red Cross, Janet Coleman, and Pharmacist Matt Kirby – Photo credit: Christy Peters/American Red Cross

Anyone who has spent any time in Northeast Ohio, driving around listening to the radio could probably finish this sentence in a flash – “Discount Drug Mart saves you the runaround…” If it didn’t immediately pop into your head, it’s “you’ll find everything you need.” The jingle was probably talking about a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread. But, for one North Olmsted woman, being at Discount Drug Mart recently saved her more than the runaround – it saved her life.

Matt Kirby, a pharmacist at the North Olmsted Discount Drug Mart, was going through a normal day when a fellow employee ran to the pharmacy and alerted him that someone had collapsed near the deli. Matt sprang into action and found a woman lying on the floor. She was not breathing and had no pulse. Using lifesaving skills he learned in a Red Cross class, Matt began CPR. On his 22nd chest compression, the customer was revived. She was transported to a hospital and recovered.

See coverage from Fox 8 here.

In an interview with Cleveland.com, Matt said, “I think the more amazing part of the story was that a week later, they (the customer and her husband) celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, and she was around for that. That was my reward – her being able to make it to that. Also, seeing her walk back into the store, that made it all worth it.”

Janet and Kevin Coleman with Pharmacist Matt Kirby and CEO of the Northern Ohio Region of the American Red Cross Mike Parks

Because of his heroic actions, Matt was awarded the American Red Cross Lifesaving Award for Professional Responders, one of the highest honors given by the organization. The award honors someone who embodies the spirit of the Red Cross by using action to help alleviate human suffering in the face of an emergency.

See coverage from News 5 here.

Like Matt Kirby, you never know when you may be called upon to help save a life. Make sure you’re prepared by signing up for training classes with the Red Cross. The organization offers a variety of courses to help the community be prepared when an emergency arises.

Do you know a hero? The Red Cross wants to recognize ordinary people who perform extraordinary acts of courage. If you know a hero who has used their Red Cross skills to help save a life, please share their story with us!

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.

City of Macedonia employee honored with Red Cross Lifesaving Award

Heroes are all around us. But they are not common because to act quickly and decisively during a crisis takes a level of courage reserved only for a chosen few. On September 30 the American Red Cross of Northern Ohio was honored to virtually recognize one man who exemplifies this kind of courage.

On June 5, 2021, during the Macedonia SummerFest 5K, John Doyle, Recreation Supervisor for the City of Macedonia, Ohio was doing a walk-thru clearing of trails at Longwood Park. A man who had passed him a minute prior was face down on the trail. John immediately radioed for EMS and approached the downed runner. He performed multiple rounds of CPR. During the third round, two police officers arrived to connect an AED. Shortly after, EMS arrived with another AED and LUCAS device. The man regained a pulse and was breathing when he was transported to the hospital.

For this act, John was awarded the American Red Cross Lifesaving Award. This is one of the highest awards 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 John received bears the signature of the President and CEO of the American Red Cross, and the signature of the chairman of the American Red Cross.

When asked to share his thoughts about his award, John was quick to point out, “It was a team effort and I’m thankful for all the people who helped save his life.”

The lifesaving awards program has its roots as far back as 1911, to provide recognition to those who, in a time of an emergency, use their lifesaving skills or knowledge to save or sustain a life. The Lifesaving Award for Professional Responders was created to accurately demonstrate true appreciation to those who use Red Cross skills and knowledge as part of their day-to-day job responsibilities. Since 2018, we have honored nearly 800 individuals worldwide who have helped to save almost 350 lives.

The Red Cross hopes that John’s heroic actions will inspire others to get trained in skills that help save lives. The Red Cross offers a variety of classes, including online options. Learn more and sign up today!

Earlier in 2021, a Richmond Heights police sergeant received a lifesaving award from the Red Cross. Read more about it here.

Do you know someone who used their Red Cross training to help save a life? Nominate your hero for a Lifesaving Award at www.lifesavingawards.org.

National Volunteer Week spotlight: Carol Schemmer is dedicated to helping others

By: Sam Pudelski, American Red Cross volunteer

Carol Schemmer of Ottawa County is no stranger to the amazing work that the Red Cross does here at home and abroad.

“When I was in the military, I saw the work of the Red Cross firsthand — when military members needed support to get back home in an emergency or to communicate with loved ones,” said Carol.

Carol has spent her life helping others. She has held many distinguished roles in her life, including spending 22 years serving as a nurse in the United States Navy, leading an emergency room in Connecticut and teaching at Lorain County Community College, just to name a few.

Currently, she spends her time as a volunteer with the State of Ohio Medical Reserve Core (MRC) administering COVID-19 vaccines and as a leader for Club Red, a local organization that supports the Northern Ohio Region of the Red Cross through fundraising and advocacy efforts.

“Carol is an idea person and an action person. She’s always willing to step up and offer advice or help coordinate boots on the ground. She is highly organized, extremely reliable and caring,” said Rachel Hepner-Zawodny, executive director of the Red Cross of Northwest Ohio.

As part of Club Red, Carol has led the group to fundraise for the Red Cross but also expanded its effort to teach CPR to communities. She believes that CPR is so easy to learn, yet can be so vital to saving a person’s life during an emergency.

Carol admires the Red Cross volunteers who coordinate and deploy to disasters to offer relief to those affected. When disaster strikes, volunteers are there to provide basic necessities to communities impacted by a flood, storm or other natural disaster—supplying food, water, medical care and more. These efforts are possible thanks to donations and the support of volunteers—who make up over 90% of the Red Cross workforce.

We cannot do the work that we do abroad and at home without the support of people like Carol. Her dedication to supporting others in need throughout her life as a nurse and as a volunteer has helped countless people. We are truly honored to call her a supporter.

If you aren’t a volunteer but are interested in how you could support the Northern Ohio Red Cross, there are many opportunities available for a variety of skill sets. You can visit our website or click here to learn more.

Edited by: Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

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.