On Veterans Day and every day, Red Cross helps active-duty military, veterans and families cope

By Eilene E. Guy, American Red Cross volunteer

Today is Veterans Day, when we honor those who have served in our military. But tomorrow and every day after this national holiday passes, the American Red Cross will continue to honor and support veterans, military members and their families. For more than 100 years, the Red Cross has been helping active-duty men and women in uniform, their families and veterans deal with the unique challenges of military service.

It’s no secret that military life is stressful. Those of us in civilian life can only imagine the toll it takes to be in combat or challenged with heavy responsibilities, leaving and reuniting with family and home, being uprooted, adjusting to assignment after assignment.

Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces has a whole catalogue of programs to ease those burdens – everything from a reassuring presence on battlefields, deployment stations and military hospitals across the globe to reunification and readjustment workshops here on the home front.

There are even Red Cross programs designed specifically for children who have to deal with the unique social and emotional challenges of military life.

Northern Ohio Region Red Cross volunteer Tom Adams of Cleveland uses his education, training and skills as a clinical social worker to facilitate free, confidential resiliency
workshops on bases around the country. He recently returned from Texas, where he has done sessions at Fort Bliss, Fort Hood and Fort Tyler. Some of the highlights of his assignments over more than a dozen years include assisting service members at Fort Pickett in Virginia, Orlando, Fla. and Wright-Patterson here in Ohio.

Tom sees genuine gratitude in the people he works with. Explaining why he volunteers he said, “I can give up a weekend without pay to give them a thumbnail sketch of how to handle what life throws at them. I find it really humbling to be able to do this.”

Tom structures his small-group workshops as conversations, encouraging participants to share the challenges they face in a safe space. “Then I suggest options for handling these situations,” Tom said. “I’m not there to ‘teach.’ My goal is to give them tools they can use, when they need them.”

Here in northern Ohio, the Red Cross is also active with National Guard and Reserve units, conducting workshops to help ease the transitions of deployment and reconnection after active duty.

Jessica Tischler, regional director of Service to the Armed Forces for the Northern Ohio Red Cross recruits and trains volunteers with certification in mental health and social work fields for that program.

“I have the privilege of interacting with veterans every day and hearing their stories of service and sacrifice,” she said. “It’s gratifying every Veterans Day to see the American public come together as a community to thank the men and women who served our country.”

The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the public. Our support for the U.S. military dates back to World War I, and we’re proud to maintain our founders’ commitment to the men and women who have served or continue to serve.

For more information or to volunteer or donate to support the Red Cross mission of helping active and retired military members, visit redcross.org or our Spanish site, CruzRojaAmericana.org, or follow us on Twitter at @RedCross.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

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

Northern Ohio volunteer delivered supplies and hope in the wake of Hurricane Ian

By Michael deVulpillieres, American Red Cross

Destruction was everywhere as a large truck with an American Red Cross logo taped to its side made its way slowly through Coastal Estates, a small Fort Myers neighborhood lined with single family homes, most either wiped out entirely or badly damaged by Hurricane Ian.

On one side of the street, a stray cat wandered inside a blown-out manufactured home. A few doors down, the driver paused at the sight of a metal roof wrapped around a palm tree.

“Within 30 minutes, we had five feet of water here,” Reba Fennessy told Red Cross volunteers Lisa Mize and David Tolander. “It was so scary.”

American Red Cross volunteers David Tolander of Iowa and Lisa Mize of Huron, Ohio deliver relief supplies to a small neighborhood in Fort Myers, Florida, hit hard by Hurricane Ian. Photo credit: Michael deVulpillieres, American Red Cross

Mize, who is from Huron, Ohio, and Tolander, from Waterloo, Iowa, first met a week earlier after arriving in Southwest Florida to be part of the hurricane relief efforts. They were assigned to deliver supplies together in some of the hardest hit parts of the state.

Their presence meant more than the much-needed free relief items like tarps, bins, brooms, rakes, batteries, bleach and trash bags that filled their truck. Mize and Tolander also represented the reassurance that help would continue to be available as long as needed.

“We’re here where the Gulf (of Mexico) meets the Bay (of the Caloosahatchee River), so we got a double whammy,” Catherine Casby said. The storm surge, pushed by 160-mile-an-hour winds, destroyed so many of the homes around hers. Though damaged, her small house is still standing.

Catherine Casby, a resident of Fort Myers, Fla., hit hard by Hurricane Ian, speaks with Red Cross volunteer Lisa Mize. Photo Credit: Michael deVulpillieres, American Red Cross

Casby spends her days clearing debris, cleaning up inside, and keeping an eye on her neighbors. “We look after each other,” she said of her tight-knit community. In fact, the night Ian made landfall, Casby braved the winds and flood waters to check on residents next door, injuring her leg in the process.

While Mize, who works as a nurse back home, was handing out supplies, she asked Casby about her noticeable limp. Casby said she spent a few days in the hospital after the storm and is slowly recovering.

“That’s the hardest part, the stories,” Mize said of the physical and emotional scars left by Ian. Yet during her Red Cross deployment, Mize has learned how to “laugh and smile, even in the worst of it.” Her positive disposition and sense of humor lifted the spirits of those around her.

“The people are so appreciative of seeing anyone here,” Tolander said. “Many told us the Red Cross was the first and only people they’ve seen (helping).”

Fennessy recalled how, a week after landfall, the Red Cross was in Coastal Estates providing warm meals. “It made us feel that someone cared,” she said, her voice breaking up with emotion.

Before accepting some cleanup supplies from the truck, Fennessy looked up at Mize in the back of the vehicle and said, “If I could come up there, I’d give you a hug.” Mize promptly climbed down to share an embrace.

Despite having just met a week earlier, Mize and Tolander talked and joked as if they’d known each other for years. There was a seamlessness about the way they worked together.

“We’ve clicked really well,” said Mize, who recently joined the Red Cross. “This is my first deployment. But Dave has been on a lot, so he’s taught me quite a bit.” She paused. “He taught me that it’s OK to cry sometimes.”

American Red Cross relief is free to anyone with disaster-caused needs, thanks to the generosity of the American people. To become a trained disaster volunteer, like Mize and Tolander, go to redcross.org/volunteer or call 1-800-REDCROSS.

If you would like to support the Hurricane Ian response financially, visit redcross.org or CruzRojaAmericana.org, text the words IAN to 90999 to make a $10 donation, or call 1-800-HELP NOW.

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

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage

National Hispanic Heritage Month runs through October 15

By Chris Chmura, American Red Cross volunteer

Our weather has started to cool in northern Ohio as we to shift from summer to fall. One of my favorite months is October, with its dramatic changes in weather, kids back in school, and the holiday season beginning to ramp up.

The American Red Cross celebrates this important time by acknowledging our strong relationship with the Latino community in recognizing National Hispanic Heritage month.

Last year, I was fortune enough to write about the American Red Cross’ Northern Ohio Latino initiative, explain why we need to focus on this cultural group and share ways to get involved. The fundamental principles of the Red Cross instruct us to help all people in times of need.

Latino initiative

The Northern Ohio Latino initiative’s mission is to deepen our relationship with this diverse community, provide education about services we can provide, offer tools and support regionally, and partner with local groups to bridge trust.

Why?  The short answer is that the growing Latino community has varying levels of connectivity to Red Cross services. One gap we discovered is the large percentage of Spanish-only speaking people who are disconnected from the Red Cross based on language barriers.

One way we continue to build on our momentum is to have strong partnerships with groups like HOLA Ohio, with their incredible leaders and strong members.

HOLA was founded in late 1999 as an informal group of Hispanic women in Lake County who wanted to help the growing Latino community, comprised of Mexican immigrant workers employed by area nurseries and their families. Few services were accessible to this demographic, and HOLA worked to bridge gaps. Today, HOLA is an award-winning, 501c3 charitable nonprofit organization which works with families across the state. HOLA is currently developing a Commercial Kitchen Incubator and Hispanic Community Center in Painesville.

HOLA’s work has been spotlighted in the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post and Telemundo, and has been recognized with numerous awards, including a Torchlight Prize, a prestigious national award honoring community-driven work that empowers the Latino community. Recently, founding executive director of HOLA Ohio and the HOLA Hispanic Community Center Veronica Isabel Dahlberg was named a 2019 Crain’s Cleveland Business Woman of Note.

HOLA’s work in the community

HOLA and volunteers and employees with the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio have partnered in the past to install smoke alarms in the Latino community.

“HOLA is a key partner in helping us provide assistance to Hispanic residents who have been affected by home fires,” said Tom Revolinsky, Disaster Program Manager for the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio. “They help us with translation, give additional financial assistance and help overcome any cultural barriers to recovery.”

In October 2021, working with HOLA and the Painesville Fire Department, the Red Cross installed 62 smoke alarms in 25 homes in a largely Latino neighborhood.   Fire safety information was shared in Spanish and, according to Tom, was very well received by the community.

“HOLA is very grateful for our partnership with the Red Cross,” said Veronica Isabel Dahlberg, Executive Director HOLA Ohio and the HOLA Hispanic Community Center. “Working together, we have been able to assist Hispanic families in crisis, and also help with fire safety education and prevention, such as the installation of smoke alarms in the homes of Spanish-speaking families. There is no doubt that our combined efforts will save lives.”

Seeking Latino volunteers

The Red Cross of Northern Ohio has a need for Latino volunteers to help us grow our mission in their communities.

You can learn about being a volunteer here.

Web resources

Did you know that the American Red Cross has a Spanish language website? You can access it here.

Posted by Ryan Lang, Red Cross board member and volunteer

Recognizing Red Cross phlebotomists during National Blood Collectors Week

By Christy Peters, American Red Cross Regional Communications Manager

Often, when I tell someone I work for the American Red Cross, I get one of two responses. The first is usually a story about how the Red Cross helped the person or someone they knew. The second reaction is an immediate explanation of how the person really wants to give blood but they’re nervous and they just don’t think they could ever do that.

I can make you feel better right now if you happen to be one of those people who’s never given blood. I didn’t start giving until I began working for the Red Cross and, even then, it took me a really long time to finally do it. What’s even worse? A big part of my job is talking about why we need more people to give! So, what made me finally take the plunge? Getting to know the amazing phlebotomists at the Red Cross.

I recently gave my 12th pint of blood and, as always, I was nervous as I went through the process. But I was lucky because that day, La’shawn Sims was my phlebotomist. She was incredible…funny, kind, enthusiastic and she calmed my nerves immediately. La’shawn has been with the Red Cross for three years as a phlebotomist/driver.

Red Cross Northern Ohio phlebotomist La’shawn Sims prepares blood products for transport during a blood drive at University Hospitals in Cleveland.

“I love my job because of its mission, the ability to help others save lives,” said La’shawn. “I love listening to the donors and the reasons why they donate.”

September 4-10 is National Blood Collectors Week, a time to recognize the amazing work done every single day at the Red Cross by phlebotomists like La’shawn. In the Northern Ohio Region nearly 100 individuals work in this role, helping to collect blood in communities across the Region. The position requires an individual to complete weeks of specific Red Cross training, both in the classroom and on the job, prior to working independently.

Northern Ohio phlebotomist Ariel Blanks prepares to draw blood from Martha Liechty at the 2022 Cleveland Browns Blood Drive

In addition to collecting blood, many staff members drive Red Cross trucks loaded with the equipment needed to set up and run a successful blood drive. The driver role often requires first heading to Regional headquarters in downtown Cleveland, loading the truck and then driving it to the blood drive location. Phlebotomists can also take additional training to learn how to collect Power Red or platelet donations, which require a different process than whole blood collection. Above all else, these individuals are the face of the Red Cross, helping donors through the blood donation process, ensuring a positive experience and hopefully, a lifetime of blood donations.

During National Blood Collectors Week, we give thanks to you – all the phlebotomists who are on the front lines each day, ensuring patients have the blood they need. And, even if you’re nervous like me, La’shawn encourages everyone to donate blood.

“It only takes 30 minutes of your time, and you’ll help save three lives with just one pint.” And, whether it’s La’shawn, or another great Northern Ohio collections staff member, you can know you’ll be in great hands.

Buckeye native shines light on humanitarian needs worldwide

By Eilene E. Guy, American Red Cross volunteer

When there’s a humanitarian crisis somewhere around the world, the American Red Cross sends Jenelle Eli to bear witness.

In the spring, Jenelle – who hails from Trumbull County, in the Mahoning Valley of northeast Ohio – spent a month aboard the Ocean Viking in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. She was reporting on the rescue of hundreds of desperate migrants trying to reach safety in flimsy boats.

Ivan Jimenez Garra, Mexican Red Cross and Jenelle Eli, American Red Cross survey damage in Jojutla, a small Mexican city that suffered massive damage when a 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck in September 2017. Photo credit: Daniel Cima/American Red Cross

Then she spent July in Warsaw, reporting to the world on the arrival in Poland of hundreds of thousands of refugees from warfare in Ukraine.

With more than a dozen years in disaster and refugee communications, Jenelle has become a highly skilled and widely respected voice.

In May, she spoke at the United Nations about the importance of humanitarian aid, drawing on her first-hand experiences with Red Cross relief efforts around the world.

Recently, the professional organization PRNews recognized her as one of the 2022 Top Women in its Industry Innovators category.

“It’s not easy to get attention from audiences about humanitarian crises – especially because there are just so many taking place at one time,” Jenelle said. “People get disaster fatigue and start tuning out all the hurt that’s happening in the US and around the world. Yet, harnessing people’s attention for good is the only way that things are going to change.

“I’m really pleased that the professional world of PR recognizes the importance of humanitarian communication – and that communicating in a way that ensures dignity for refugees is key.”

Jenelle Eli delivers humanitarian aid to Ines (right) and her neighbors in Morelos, in the wake of a 7.1 earthquake in 2017.  Photo credit: Daniel Cima/American Red Cross

This is how Jenelle describes her mission: “Right now, there are more people displaced from their homes than at any other point in history. I studied refugee issues in school and have devoted my career to raising awareness about people’s needs on migratory routes and even once they’ve reached safety. I raise my hand for international missions because I know that getting refugees’ stories out and elevating their voices is the only way to truly create space for empathy.

“Humanitarians’ work speaks for itself; I simply pull out the megaphone.”

“For nearly two decades, Jenelle has vowed to amplify the stories of displaced survivors through a lens of empathy and empowerment rather than victimization and pity,” said Emily Osment, Red Cross senior media relations manager.

“Through her work, Jenelle has helped secure ports of safety for stranded migrants at sea, enforced the importance of upholding the Geneva Conventions as a neutral, impartial aid actor in the midst of war, protected the identities of vulnerable families fleeing violence and ensuring lifesaving blood reaches patients during national shortages here at home.”

Now, Jenelle has moved from senior director of media relations at American Red Cross national headquarters in Washington, D.C., to a six-month stint as head of media relations and advocacy at the headquarters of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC) Societies in Geneva, Switzerland.

In this role, she’s directing efforts to focus attention in 192 IFRC member countries on the needs of the world’s most vulnerable people.

“I do want people to know that they don’t have to deploy to crisis zones to make a huge difference! EVERYONE can have a humanitarian impact in their own way – whether that’s volunteering in their own community, donating money, raising awareness, or choosing a career responding to crises.

June 30, 2019. Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Kids make ‘heart’ symbols alongside American Red Cross team member, Jenelle Eli, in Kutupalong—a displacement camp in Cox’s Bazar, Myanmar.  Photo credit: Brad Zerivitz, American Red Cross

“In the US, if you want to help refugees, volunteer for an organization helping to reconnect them with separated family members (like the Red Cross!) or a group that welcomes newly- arrived refugees in small cities and helps them navigate their new lives here. There are loads of ways to be a humanitarian.”

To learn more about American Red Cross activities worldwide, powered by the generosity of volunteers and donors, click here.

As many students head back to school, Red Cross offers important safety tips

By Christy Peters, American Red Cross Regional Communications Manager

If you’re out this weekend, making a quick Target or Wal-Mart run, be prepared to witness a strange phenomenon – the panicked, school supplies shopping parent. We’ll be wide eyed and shaky, searching for a plastic folder, with three holes but no prongs, in a specific color that 500 other parents have also been looking for since school supply lists came out. That’s right folks, it’s back to school time!

My son will be in first grade this year, so I’m slightly less nervous than I was when he started his academic journey last year as a kindergartener. Of all my fears (and there were many) one of the biggest was him riding the bus. Watching him climb on and sit in that huge seat was enough to send me into a full-on panic attack. Unfortunately, so was watching the many drivers who sped past the bus as it was slowing down to get him or didn’t stop at all.

The American Red Cross Northern Ohio Region wants everyone to stay safe as students head back to school. Below are several reminders for riders, walkers and those of us sharing the roads and sidewalks with them. Take a moment to review these important tips and go over them with your kids returning to school.

CELL PHONES A DISTRACTION The National Safety Council (NSC) reports distracted walking can be dangerous, even deadly. Teach your students the following:
– Don’t text or talk on your phone while walking. If you must text, move out of the way of others and stop on the sidewalk.
– Never cross the street while using an electronic device.
– Do not walk with headphones in your ears.
Drivers can be distracted too. Never use a phone while driving. Help keep children
safe by eliminating all distractions.

TAKING THE BUS
– Students should get to their bus stop early and stand away from the curb while waiting for the bus to arrive. Young children should be supervised.
– Board the bus only after it has come to a complete stop and the driver or attendant instructs them to get on. They should only board their bus, never an alternate one.
– All students should stay in clear view of the bus driver and never walk behind the bus.

WALKING TO SCHOOL
– Cross the street at the corner, obeying traffic signals and staying in the crosswalk.
– Never run out into the street or cross between parked cars.
– Use a route along which the school has placed crossing guards.
– Parents, walk with young children and those taking new routes or attending new schools, for the first week to ensure they know how to get there safely. Arrange for the kids to walk to school with a friend or classmate.

GOING BY CAR
– Everyone should always wear a seat belt.
– Younger children should use car seats or booster seats until the lap-shoulder belt fits properly (typically for children ages 8-12 and over 4’9”), and ride in the back seat until they are at least 13 years old.
– If a teenager is going to drive to school, parents should mandate that they use seat
belts.

RIDING A BIKE There may be more young people on bikes as the school bells ring. They should:
– Wear a properly fitted helmet and bright clothing.
– Ride on the right side of the road, with traffic, in a single file.
– Come to a complete stop before crossing the street; walk bikes across the street.
– Stay alert and avoid distracted riding.

SLOW DOWN Drivers should slow down, especially in residential areas and school zones, and know what the yellow and red bus signals mean. Yellow flashing lights indicate the bus is getting ready to stop, that motorists should slow down and be prepared to stop. Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign indicate the bus is stopped and children are getting on or off.

Motorists must stop when they are behind a bus, meeting the bus or approaching an intersection where a bus is stopped. Motorists following or traveling alongside a school bus must also stop until the red lights have stopped flashing, the stop arm is withdrawn, and all children have reached safety. This includes two and four-lane highways. If physical barriers such as grassy medians, guide rails or concrete median barriers separate oncoming traffic from the bus, motorists in the opposing lanes may proceed without stopping.

KEEP LITTLE ONES SAFE Keeping all students safe is the primary concern for everyone, but there are special steps for parents of younger kids and those going to school for the first time:
– Make sure the child knows their phone number, address, how to get in touch with their
parents at work, how to get in touch with another trusted adult and how to call 911.
– Teach children not to talk to strangers or accept rides from someone they don’t know.

Finally, download the free Red Cross First Aid app for instant access to information on handling the most common first aid emergencies. You can find it by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in your app store or at redcross.org/apps. Learn and practice First Aid and CPR/AED skills by taking a course (redcross.org/takeaclass) so you can help save a life.

Posted by Ryan Lang, American 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

A lesson from childhood “Sounded the Alarm” for this Red Cross volunteer

By Sue Wilson, American Red Cross volunteer

American Red Cross volunteers come from many backgrounds, professions, and demographics and show up ready to work with different motivations. Whether it is the desire to make a difference, a way to network and socialize, or to stay active in retirement, a day in the field helping the Red Cross fulfill its mission with one of its many programs is a day well spent.

Elizabeth Sullivan (right), Red Cross Volunteer

Elizabeth Sullivan got involved this past May after a colleague suggested they partner with the Sound the Alarm campaign as part of their Yale Alumni Service activities. Sound the Alarm is part of the Red Cross home fire campaign, established in 2014 to help prevent fire-related fatalities. A similar program began in Cleveland in 1992, when the Red Cross partnered with the Cleveland Division of Fire to reduce fire fatalities by installing smoke alarms in homes and teaching fire safety.

Elizabeth, the director of opinion for cleveland.com, and previous editor of the editorial pages of The Plain Dealer, along with her team and others, installed 175 smoke alarms in 60 homes in Cleveland ‘s Old Brooklyn neighborhood on May 14. For her, the project took on a deeper meaning.

“My father survived a house fire as a child because his older sister came into the room at night with a wet towel, and they put it over their mouths and they crawled along the floor to safely escape,” said Elizabeth.

That experience prompted her father to do annual fire drills with their family when Elizabeth was a child. “We were taught basic fire safety tips, like touch the door before you open it to make sure it’s not hot and to go out the window.”  While she and her siblings had fun climbing out on the roof, the importance of those drills stuck with her.

Red Cross volunteers, Elizabeth Sullivan (far right)

Covid paused this important program over the last two years, but this spring, Red Cross staff members and volunteers like Elizabeth installed 2,374 smoke alarms throughout Northern Ohio, making 929 homes safer.

Home fires claim lives every day, but having working smoke alarms can cut the risk of death by half. The good news? You don’t have to wait until the next Sound the Alarm campaign, the Red Cross installs smoke alarms throughout the year.

If you or someone you know may need a smoke alarm, click here to request a home safety visit and smoke alarm installation. And if Elizabeth’s story encouraged you to want to volunteer, find more information here.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer
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.

Helping those in need after a disaster is challenging but rewarding

By Mike Arthur, Regional Mass Care & Logistics Manager, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

I’m grateful to live in northern Ohio, one of the safest areas of the country from a weather-related disaster standpoint. We don’t have to worry about a hurricane coming and wiping our homes away. We are unlikely to walk out our front doors and have trouble breathing due to smoke from a nearby wildfire.

I have never worried about the fate of my family and myself, where we would live and work after a disaster destroyed my home and place of work. I have never had to make a decision about which of my hard-earned belongings I need to take with me when I evacuate. I have never had my community devastated. Every year thousands of families have their lives changed drastically when their homes and communities are affected by disasters large and small.

Mike Arthur, during the Red Cross response to hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas in 2017
 

I’m also grateful that I get the opportunity to help people in need. As a Regional Mass Care & Logistics Manager, I get to put the skills and talents learned over the course of my life to good use leading and supporting the American Red Cross workforce in meeting the needs of our clients locally and nationally.

I get to deploy for a few weeks each year making an immediate difference in someone’s life. Deployments to large disasters are tough but incredibly rewarding. The hours can be long. The food is not always five star. I sometimes sleep on a cot in a staff shelter with my fellow workers. It can be stressful. Compassion fatigue is a risk.

Residents wait to receive clean up supplies from the Red Cross after hurricane Harvey in 2017.

I look forward to each deployment and go as often as I can. I feel like I make a difference. I have made incredible friends across the country. I have great stories to tell. I get to bring hope to those in need. I help provide a safe place to sleep and food in bellies, and sometimes, most importantly I can provide a warm hug, bright smile and a sympathetic ear. My life is fuller because of my deployment experiences. I hope you will take to opportunity to join me out in the field this year and experience the magic of helping.

Help those in need when they need it most by becoming a volunteer with the Red Cross. To find a volunteer opportunity that’s right for you, visit redcross.org/volunteer.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, Red Cross volunteer