Jamell Fetter had not yet received First Aid/CPR/AED training from the American Red Cross through his employer, Estes Express Lines. But the Toledo man had already used CPR to save a co-worker’s life.
“I sat in on classes with my sisters and my friends who had to do all their certifications online,” he said. “I never had any formal training. Just watching the videos.”
Jamell said he was at a company lunch event in September, 2020 when he saw coworker Mark Benschoter on the floor, lifeless.
“I wasn’t thinking about it until afterwards, and I just knew he needed help, and I was there.”
Mark is back on the job, working every day with Jamell. “He is my personal security guard,” Mark said. “Every time we have a function, people will not let him go home until I do. He has to stay until I leave.”
After learning of Jamell’s lifesaving actions, company officials asked the Red Cross to provide First Aid/CPR/AED training to all managers, supervisors and directors at its facilities across the country.
“It’s a great project,” said Tom Zahler, director of corporate training and development for Estes Express Lines, based in Richmond, Virginia. “We’re really grateful we’re partnering with the Red Cross.”
Tom visited Toledo on the day Jamell was presented with the certificate of extraordinary personal action at the headquarters of the Red Cross of Western Lake Erie in Toledo. The award is presented to individuals for selfless and humane action using lifesaving skills.
“We’re training supervisors and above to be sure that someone on every shift, every day is available, should another event like this happen.”
Although Jamell isn’t at the supervisor level, he is being included in the training being provided by Estes Express Lines.
“It’s working,” Tom said. “We hear stories all the time about people who are there when something happens.”
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.
“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.
“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
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.
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.”
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.
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
National Good Neighbor Day is September 28, a day that celebrates our neighbors and encourages us to get to know our community better. Neighbors look out for one another and help each other out.
Good Neighbor Day was created in the 1970s in Lakeside, Montana, and President Jimmy Carter in 1978 proclaimed the day, saying: “Understanding, love and respect build cohesive families and communities. The same bonds cement our nation and the nations of the world. For most of us, this sense of community is nurtured and expressed in our neighborhoods where we give each other an opportunity to share and feel part of a larger family.”
Neighbors extend past the individuals who share a common wall or property line. At the American Red Cross, our communities are our neighbors. Whether they are next door or beyond, the Red Cross works to help and support individuals who are in need—after a disaster, when a blood donation is needed or preparing before the next disaster strikes.
This Good Neighbor Day, there are many ways you can give back to your Northern Ohio neighbors through the Red Cross.
Donate. There are different ways you can make a financial contribution to support the work of the Red Cross, both in your local community and around the world.
Give Blood. Donating blood is a simple thing you can do to help save lives. Blood donations help people going through cancer treatment, having surgery, who have chronic illnesses and those who experience traumatic injuries. The Red Cross holds blood drives across Northern Ohio every week. You can find and sign up for an upcoming blood drive here.
Volunteer. 90% of the Red Cross workforce are volunteers. There are a variety of volunteer opportunities available right here in our area. You can learn more and apply to be a volunteer in Northern Ohio here.
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.
There are endless possibilities of ways you can be a good neighbor and help give back to the community. You never know how one small act of kindness can impact a neighbor near you.
Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer
By Sue Wilson, American Red Cross volunteer and former nine- year board member
As warm weather arrives in our area after a long winter, many are anxious to get in and enjoy the many natural water resources Northeast Ohio is fortunate to have, from magnificent Lake Erie and its islands, to the beautiful Cuyahoga River. In the Akron area, thousands enjoy boating, swimming and water skiing on the Portage Lakes in additional to local ponds, lakes and pools. It is crucial that adults and children are committed to water safety and take precautions as they prepare for a summer of water fun.
May 15th is International Water Safety Day, and the American Red Cross encourages you to “do your part, be water smart.” The goal of Water Safety Day is to spread awareness of the ongoing drowning pandemic in the United States and around the world, and educate people to be safe in and around water. Among preventable injuries, drowning is the leading cause of death for children one to four years old. But people of all ages can drown in all kinds of situations.
Here are some water smart safety tips to get ready for summer fun:
Talk to your family, and all adult caregivers, about the importance of water safety and commit to safety rules. Take the Pool Safely Pledge and share it on your social media. Use the hashtags #PledgeItOn and #IWSD. Challenge your friends and family to join you and take the pledge as well.
Download the Red Cross Swim App for a variety of kid-friendly games, videos and quizzes. Water safety information for parents for a variety of aquatic environments (waterpark, pool, beach, lake) is also included as well as a progress-checker for swim lessons.
Learn to swim. People can find age-appropriate water orientation and Learn-to-Swim programs for themselves and their family members by contacting their local aquatic facility and asking for American Red Cross Swimming and Water Safety programs, or by visiting redcross.org/watersafety.
Water safety goes beyond the outdoors. International Water Safety Day is a good time to think about water safety around the house, too:
Watch kids when they are in or around water, without being distracted.
Empty all tubs, buckets, containers and kiddie pools immediately after use.
Close toilet lids and use toilet seat locks to prevent drowning.
Install fences around home pools.
Know what to do in an emergency. Take a CPR or First Aid Class through your local Red Cross.
Each year, dozens of nurses, medics and physicians donate their precious time (sometimes vacation hours!) to provide first aid services at the Red Cross First Aid Station at the Wayne County Fair. The fair runs September 8th – 13th, and during the hours of operation, the first aid station is open and ready to care for anyone in need of unexpected medical care. The station, which is housed in a permanent, air-conditioned facility, will care for over 200 fair-goers dealing with injuries and illnesses ranging from blisters and bee stings to serious, complex medical conditions that tend to arise due to warm temperatures and extensive walking.
Lara Kiefer, the Executive Director of the Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter of the American Red Cross, shared that the volunteers have provided the first aid services at the fair for at least the last 40 years. This year, the first aid operation will be coordinated by Mike Priest, a retired Wooster firefighter. He and his team will be on duty for a total of about 1,000 total hours, to ensure the health and well-being of those who attend the five-day event.
The volunteers meet well in advance to ensure they have ample coverage. Their station is stocked with supplies and the three medical bays are ready for those who get sick or injured. The team is ready with band-aids and gauze for minor cuts and scrapes, but also are truly ready for anything that comes their way. In fact, in 2016 a fair-goer had a life-threatening heart attack. The team gave CPR, used an AED and prepared the victim for transport by Wooster EMS. Read more about their lifesaving action here.
Similar first-aid services are offered by the Red Cross at other events in Northeast Ohio, like the Pro Football Hall of Fame activities in Canton and the Canfield Fair in Mahoning County. The need for volunteers to help provide such valuable services never ends. Visit redcross.org/neo and click Volunteer at the top of the page to learn more about the volunteer opportunities available.
The need for blood donors is also constant. Those who are able to donate are encouraged to visit the Red Cross bloodmobile at the Wayne County Fair Sunday and Monday, September 9 and 10, from noon to 7:00 pm.
And if you are one of the 100,000+ attendees of this year’s Wayne County Fair, please make sure to thank the volunteers who are working at the Red Cross first aid booth. You will make their vacation!
By Karen Conklin, Executive Director of the American Red Cross Lake to River Chapter
Photos by Mary Williams/American Red Cross
Who remembers the Lennon Sisters? How about Journey? “Don’t stop believing!” Are you a Band Perry fan? Do you enjoy Toby Keith? These artists have all entertained at the Canfield Fair! Toby Keith will once again perform on Sept. 3 at this year’s fair.
The Canfield Fair (Mahoning County) is the largest county fair in Ohio. More than 350,000 visitors will come through the gates from Aug. 29 through Labor Day. At the Lake to River Chapter of the American Red Cross, the Canfield Fair is a big deal. We’ve been smelling those french fries and hot sausage sandwiches for weeks. Over 437 vendors participate in the fair and, by the way, parking is always free.
For decades, the Red Cross has played an important role at the fair. Each day the blood mobile is there collecting lifesaving blood. In the medical building, board members and volunteers staff our booth, where we pass out smoke alarm application forms. We work in three-hour shifts. Most help at our booth, then take in the sights, sounds and, of course, the food. Our volunteers get free tickets to the fair! We may have some shifts available.
Another important service we provide—and have been for the past half-century—is the first aid station. This is such an important part of the fair that 20 years ago, the Canfield Fair Board constructed a Red Cross building, where onsite care is provided. They also built a secondary site on the opposite side of the fairgrounds. Certified Red Cross volunteers help scribe (keep records) and do minor triage for fair injuries that are overseen by a doctor. EMS plays a part, transporting the injured via golf carts to immediate help. Ambulances (and even a helicopter) are a call away if needed. Historically, the most frequent fair injuries have been bee stings, animal bites and blisters. So if you attend, wear comfortable shoes, don’t stick your hands in the animals’ stalls and do eat lots of yummy fair food. Who cares about the calories?
Since 1846 the Canfield Fair has been serving up fun times and great memories. If you are interested in volunteering, call our office at 330-392-2551 and ask for Vickie. If you’re not yet a volunteer, visit our website and click the “Volunteer” tab at the top of the page to start the process.
Every year, Canton, Ohio, rolls out the red carpet—and the gold jackets—as it hosts events celebrating gridiron greats and long-time legends being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. And each year, the American Red Cross is part of the action as it provides first aid services throughout the two-week festivities.
Retired Canton City Fire Department Firefighter and Red Cross Volunteer Chuck Goldy acts as head coach for the Red Cross’ Pro Football Hall of Fame coverage. He has coordinated the effort and called the plays for six years.
“When I retired, I decided that I’ve been blessed all my career, and I wanted to continue to give back,” explained Chuck. “Now that I’m not working, I can plan and do more.”
Chuck Goldy and Kim Kroh
“Red Cross relies on our volunteers each and every day in fulfilling our mission, and the Hall of Fame events are no exception,” said Kimberly Kroh, executive director of the Stark and Muskingum Lakes Chapter. “Chuck is a dedicated Red Cross volunteer and leads the Hall of Fame events every year, spending dozens of hours before, during and after these events. His dedication is inspiring to me and is also why working side by side with volunteers is the best part of my job.” See the video with Kim and Chuck, recorded after the 2016 Hall of Fame events here.
This year, the Red Cross staffed five Pro Football Hall of Fame events. It provided first aid stations as well as hydration and cooling stations.
First aid stations are staffed by those certified in CPR/AED who are trained to respond to breathing and cardiac emergencies. At hydration and cooling stations, Red Cross volunteers distribute water and provide cold towels to bring down body temperatures. Volunteers check vital signs and provide cots so individuals can recover if in distress. Equipped with two-way radios tuned in to the Canton City Fire Department channel, volunteers are ready to connect individuals to paramedics on site, if needed.
The 2018 festivities kicked off July 22 with a community parade. It was staffed by 14 Red Cross volunteers who handed out approximately 800 cups of water to parade participants.
On Friday, Aug. 3, a fashion show and luncheon at the Canton Civic Center was staffed by 12 volunteers. That evening, 16 volunteers were on hand for the Enshrinee’s Gold Jacket Dinner, attended by 4,000 guests. Red Cross workers treated one guest for vertigo issues.
The grand parade was Saturday, Aug. 4, and was staffed by 20 Red Cross volunteers. They distributed about 2,000 cups of water to parade marchers. With temperatures nearing 90 degrees, five individuals were treated for heat-related issues. They were high school band performers who had overheated under their heavy uniforms. After being assessed and cooled down, they were released to their parents and band directors.
Red Cross coverage culminated at the Enshrinee’s Roundtable Luncheon on Sunday, Aug. 5. Twelve volunteers staffed the event.
The Enshrinee’s Roundtable is Chuck’s favorite event.
“I enjoy the Roundtable,” he said. “The guys sit down with a sportscaster from the NFL Network. It gives an opportunity to hear their personal stories. It’s interesting to hear about their background. Some players have big hearts and they share what is meaningful to them and how they were raised. You get a better picture of who they are.”
“I’m not a huge football fan—but this is for Canton,” Chuck explained.
If you’d like to be like Chuck – and more than 1,500 other volunteers in Northeast Ohio, visit redcross.org/neo, and click “Volunteer” at the top of the page to begin the application process.
By Sue Wilson, American Red Cross Board Member and Volunteer Leader
Today is the first official day of summer, although we’ve already had a number of days with temperatures into the 90’s. Heat and humidity can be uncomfortable for us, but it is far more uncomfortable, even dangerous for our pets. Here are some tips for keeping your pets safe in hot weather.
Never, ever leave your pets in the car. It seems obvious, but we still see so many people who want to bring their dogs along for the ride. Many justify this by saying their dogs love car rides, and love to be with them. But running in to the store for “just 5-minutes” put your dog in jeopardy.
First, of all, what if you get distracted? What if there is a long line at the check-out? 5 minutes turns into 10 while the temperature in your car soars. On an 75-degree day, temps can reach over a 100 within 30 minutes, even with the car window cracked.
If you see a pet in a hot car, take action. Take down the make, model and license of the car and go into the place of business to report it. Call the non-emergency number for the police to report the situation. And you can get involved by asking store managers at local restaurants, malls, and businesses to put up signs asking customers to not leave their pets in their cars.
Some dogs are more prone to have difficulty in hot weather than others. Dogs with short snouts, heavy fur, that are overweight, or breathing issues are are higher risk of heat stroke. If you notice heavy panting, fast pulse or any of these symptoms, take immediate action to cool down your pet. Dogs with white colored early are more susceptible to skin cancers, so keep your dog out of direct sunlight in the summer for long periods.
Hot asphalt is dangerous to pads. A dog’s feet pads are tender, and burn easily. The rule is, if it is too hot for your bare feet, do not walk your dog on it as it is too hot for their feet too. Walk your dog on the grass. Dogs sweat through their feet so their paws are an important temperature gauge and their pads must be protected.
Provide shade and water Keep plenty of fresh cool water available for your dog inside and out. Carry a water bottle with you on walks and keep a portable collapsible pet bowl with you to keep your dog from dehydrating. If your pets spend lots of time outside provide a spot with plenty of shade. Tarps or tree shade are better than a dog house, as they provide air flow. Dog houses often make the heat worse. In excessive heat, many dogs love a small baby pool filled with water to cool off. Add ice to water bowls.
Download the Red Cross Pet First Aid App for more information on how to include Pets in emergency preparedness plans, in case of a natural disaster or other emergency situations. The app also features instructions for first aid emergencies. Find the app in your app store or you can text GETPET to 90999 for a link to download or go here redcross.org/apps. You can also take the Red Cross First Aid online course. Access the course here redcross.org/catdogfirstaid and go through the content at your own pace.
Every Fourth of July there are invariably some headlines about those who lost fingers or limbs due to accidents involving firecrackers or fireworks. It needn’t be that way if safety is as much a consideration as celebrating.
Fireworks photo credit: Paul Wadowick/American Red Cross volunteer
In order to celebrate responsibly, consider these ten tips:
Leave it to the professionals – go watch a city display instead of trying it at home. [Okay, there are 10 more since many of you just won’t take this advice.]
Never give fireworks to small children or let them attempt to light them.
Never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials.
Never place a firecracker in a container – flying shrapnel can result.
Always follow the instructions on the packaging.
Keep a supply of water and first aid kit 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 – locked away from children and pets.
Alcohol and fireworks are a recipe for disaster. Save the drinking for after the fireworks.
Consider your pets – they really aren’t going to enjoy all the noise – some will be terrified – so find them a safe interior room or space in the basement where they won’t hear as much noise.
Regarding tip #10, if you’ve successfully enjoyed your own fireworks, consider yourself lucky. Someone else certainly won’t be so lucky, and they may need blood in the emergency room.
Consider donating during the week of the Fourth. Blood drives see a big decrease during the holiday week, but the need never decreases. If you’ve been blessed enough to not need it, be the donor that someone else needs.
Check your Red Cross Blood Donor app or go to RedCrossBlood.org to locate a donation time and site convenient for you. You’ll receive a special edition Red Cross T-shirt as a special thank you (while supplies last.)
For more tips on safely enjoying your holiday weekend, see this article at RedCross.org.