Do you hear it? Sound the Alarm is coming

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

March 18, 2019 – Mark your calendar. It’s coming.

April 27 through May 12 are the dates for the 2019 Sound the Alarm campaign.

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This spring, the American Red Cross needs your help to install 100,000 free smoke alarms and raise funds for lifesaving services in more than 100 cities in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands during Sound the Alarm home fire safety and smoke alarm installation events.

And, to quasi-quote Smokey the Bear, “Only you can help ensure our success.” One day of your time might be the difference that saves a family’s lives.

Every day, seven people die in home fires and the Red Cross wants to do everything we can to prevent these needless tragedies. That’s why we launched our Home Fire Campaign.

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Volunteer participants work alongside fire departments and other local groups, canvassing at-risk neighborhoods to install free smoke alarms, replace batteries in existing alarms, educate families about fire prevention and safety, and fund raise to help sponsor this lifesaving mission.

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It’s a perfect time to grab your family, your friends and your neighbors to come along and do a good deed installing smoke alarms. You needn’t be a Red Cross volunteer or employee to work these events. Instructions, tools and supplies are all provided the day of the event.

Last year, during the inaugural Sound the Alarm event, more than 103,000 smoke alarms were installed in 43,000 homes nationally over a three-week period. There was also an impact locally. In Northeast Ohio, during the same three-week period, 350 volunteers installed 2,500 alarms in more than 900 homes.

To date, there are 511 lives that have been saved because of smoke alarms installed during previous Sound the Alarm events. More than 1.5 million free smoke alarms have been installed to date.

To find upcoming Sound the Alarm installation events and to sign-up to volunteer to an event near you, visit SoundTheAlarm.org/NEO.

Unable to attend?  You can always make a donation that helps educate families and children about home safety. A donation can also provide food, shelter and comfort to those who’ve lost their home to a fire.

Donate today at https://www.redcross.org/donate/home-fire-campaign.html/ or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer.

All photos by Doug Bardwell.

 

Three generations of heroes for CPR

By Sue Wilson, American Red Cross volunteer

March 15, 2019- Almost 20 years ago, the American Red Cross featured an article about a grandmother who saved the life of her granddaughter by performing CPR. That grandma, Kate Cherney, was not a doctor or a nurse, but a teacher of medical assisting and phlebotomy. She had been trained in CPR. Her daughter, Kelli Pavlas, then a young mom pregnant with her second baby at the time, said that the day of the incident was like any normal day. Her then 18-month-old daughter Alyssa had no signs or symptoms that something was about to happen. Kelli shares the story: “We were at my parents’ house watching a Cleveland Indians game. It was a perfectly normal day. My daughter was playing with my mom, sitting on her lap, when all of a sudden her eyes rolled in the back of her head and she went totally limp.”

Kelli said her mom, Grandma Kate, responded immediately, calling Alyssa’s name and checking for a response, then placing her flat on the floor to check for a pulse or breathing. There was nothing. Kate called for her husband to call 911 and immediately began CPR.

“I was 21 and pregnant with my second child,” said Kelli. “I was not a nurse and did not know CPR. I was frozen. I didn’t know how to help!”

After several rounds, Alyssa began to respond. EMS arrived and took the child to the hospital, where tests were run and she was observed for some time, but no cause was found. Kelli explained, “All we know is that she would not have made it if my mom didn’t intervene and perform CPR.”

Alyssa Baylog & Kate Cherney

Alyssa Baylog and her grandmother Kate Cherney

Kelli had many sleepless nights after that. She’d set an alarm hourly to check on her daughter. But she did more than that. She immediately enrolled in a CPR class, as did her sisters. And then?  “I was very inspired by what happened and I decided to become a nurse to help others.”

All these years later, what became of that baby? Alyssa Balog is now saving lives herself as a cardiac nurse at the Cleveland Clinic. And she has a “pay it forward” story of her own.

While in nursing school, Alyssa would spend some nights at her grandparents’ house because it was a close distance to her clinicals. One evening, when her grandma Kate was out for a walk with a neighbor, her grandpa told Alyssa he wasn’t feeling well. After checking his pulse and noting other symptoms, she knew something was wrong. So she took him to the emergency room, where they discovered he was in atrial fibrillation. Kelli said, “In a way, Alyssa was able to repay the favor in a small way by assisting my dad who had assisted in saving her.”

Kelli feels certain that if her mom did not have CPR training, Alyssa would not be here today to help not only the many patients she cares for but also help her grandpa on that fateful evening. “I probably would not be a nurse myself,” added Kelli. “My mom’s actions inspired us to help others.”

In fact, when Kelli gave birth all those years ago, she had another beautiful baby girl. She named her Kate, after her mom, who she said is her hero.

Kelli, her daughter Alyssa and matriarch Kate are all living testaments to the importance of knowing CPR. They believe you never know when it could be your opportunity to make a difference.

Kelli and her family all received their CPR training through the American Red Cross. To get information on Red Cross CPR training near you, click here.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross Volunteer 

Young Professional Council member receives 20/30 Club Movers & Shakers Award

By Carolyn Wild, Regional Philanthropy Officer, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio

March 13, 2019-  Cesar Sepulveda, an active member of the newly established Red Cross of Greater Cleveland’s Young Professional Council (YPC), was honored by The Cleveland

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Cesar Sepulveda

Professional 20/30 Club with a 2019 Movers & Shakers Award. He was presented the award during a ceremony held at the Great Lakes Science Center March 7.

Formed in 2001, The Cleveland Professional 20/30 Club is the longest-running young professional group in Northeast Ohio. The Movers & Shakers Award recognizes young professionals in Northeast Ohio, under the age of 35, for being true leaders in their community through their dedication to their work, civic engagement and commitment to philanthropy.

Cesar is manager of community engagement for The Albert M. Higley Co. and a graduate of John Carroll University. He was recognized for his efforts to increase diversity and inclusion, particularly among Cleveland’s Hispanic population, within the construction industry. You can read more about his efforts in this article from Cleveland.com.

Cesar has been a member of the Red Cross of Greater Cleveland’s Young Professional

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Cesar (right), along with fellow YPC members (left to right) Steve Siemborski, Adam Joines, and Red Cross staff member Carolyn Wild, participated in a smoke alarm installation in October 2018, installing free smoke alarms and providing home fire safety education to Parma residents. 

Council since September 2018, serving on the steering committee to guide the direction of this dedicated group of mission-minded young professionals who support the American Red Cross through volunteerism, outreach and special events. We are honored to have such an outstanding member of the young professional community serve on the council!

For more information on how you or someone you know can become involved with the Red Cross of Greater Cleveland’s Young Professional Council, contact Carolyn Wild at 216-346-8220 or carolyn.wild2@redcross.org.

Edited by Red Cross volunteer Glenda Bogar

Summit, Portage and Medina Counties heroes honored for ‘Acts of Courage’

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

March 11, 2019- During the evening of March 7, the American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio and the Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties Chapter celebrated heroic acts and bravery accomplished by local heroes.

The 23rd annual Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties Chapter Act of Courage event, which was held at the Hilton Akron-Fairlawn, celebrated selflessness and the quick action of eight individuals, who sprang into action to assist others in need.

Marea Ludwig of Ravenna, one of the eight honorees, said her family and coworkers were excited for her.  “I feel like it’s a great big balloon of thank you,” she said prior to the start of the ceremony.

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Marea Ludwig, left, and Rachel Telegdy, Executive Director, Summit, Portage and Medina Counties Chapter.

Marea was honored for performing CPR during her first day at Litehouse Pools & Spas in Ravenna, when one of her co-workers collapsed in the backroom.

Along with the Acts of Courage Award, Marea, who received her CPR training with the Red Cross, also received the Certificate of Merit from the Red Cross’ national headquarters in Washington, D.C. The Certificate of Merit is the highest award given by the Red Cross for saving a life.

Along with Marea, here are the stories of the other brave award winners.

Eric Peterson

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Eric Peterson and Rachel Telegdy

Eric Peterson of Atwater, during his morning commute to work, noticed his neighbor’s home was on fire. He stopped his car, ran to the house and began to bang on the windows and doors to alert anyone who was still inside.

Suddenly, a noise grabbed Eric’s attention and he watched as the attached garage door opened. A young girl and a dog, who Eric had seen playing in the yard many times during his daily commute, stumbled out of the home.  As another neighbor called emergency services, Eric ran into the home. As smoke alarms blared, his shouting alerted the remaining family members to the danger. A mother and two children fled the smoke-filled home after hearing Eric’s warning. Assured that no one else remained in the home, Eric escaped through a window.

Outside, a mother and her three children huddled together with other neighbors, watching the smoke billow from the home.

Unruffled, Eric called his wife to tell her what was happening down the street, and continued his commute to work.

Detective Susan Hackbart and Tonya Gardella

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Tonya Gardella and Detective Susan Hackbart

Last August, Detective Susan Hackbart of Akron was called to work at the Goodyear Public Library, where Tonya Gardella of Brunswick is the branch manager.

A few minutes into the shift, Detective Hackbart was alerted to a patron who was in distress. As she was examining the situation, the patron slipped into unconsciousness.

Tonya took control of the scene and she called for one of her employees to get the branch’s AED and for another to call 911.

Detective Hackbart began CPR, pausing only to place the sticky pads from the AED on the patron. They started the AED and followed its directions until EMS arrived. Thankfully, the individual was fully revived at the hospital.

Officer Timothy Hunt

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Officer Timothy Hunt and Rachel Telegdy

Officer Timothy Hunt of Barberton, a member of the Akron Police Department, was dispatched during a night shift in July to attend to an unresponsive 2-year-old. Police and EMS arrived at the same time to find the child not breathing and without a pulse.

While EMS rushed to start an IV and other life saving measures, Office Hunt jumped in the ambulance and performed CPR while the medics continued to work on the child during the 20-minute ride to the hospital.

The child survived due to the heroic efforts of EMS and the resolute hands of Officer Hunt.

Paul Miroewski

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Paul Miroewski and Rachel Telegdy

Paul Miroewski of Northfield was driving home on I-271 from his maintenance job in Lyndhurst when he witnessed a semi-tractor trailer smash into another vehicle, flipping the vehicle onto the passenger side. As Paul pulled his vehicle to the side of the road, he could see flames already licking the side of the road and the undercarriage of the truck.

He paused to check on the semi-driver, and learning that he was fine, continued to the overturned vehicle. Another driver, an off-duty fireman, stopped and, together, he and Paul tore off the windshield and helped pull the victim from his truck. Nearly two minutes later, both the car and semi exploded.

Brandon Waterson

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Rachel Telegdy and Brandon Waterson

Brandon Waterson of Kent was on summer break from school and had been playing at a friend’s house across the street when he returned home for a quick lunch.

Before entering his home, Brandon noticed that his next-door-neighbor’s house had smoke billowing out of it.

Brandon called his mother to alert her and she told him to call 9-1-1. He ran to another neighbor’s house who helped the shy boy contact emergency services.

The owner of the home had left a candle burning while she was at work. By alerting an adult, and, in turn, the authorities, Brandon helped save the neighbor’s dog and home.

Tave Constantine

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Tave Constantine and Rachel Telegdy

Tave Constantine of Mogadore heard his mother, a thyroid cancer survivor who sometimes has difficulty eating due to her many surgeries, make distressed noises. He calmly asked her if she was okay. When she was not able to answer him, he ran to her and began administering abdominal thrusts and back blows.

His mother could feel herself passing out, but Tave’s continued effort and care helped dislodge the food and she was finally able to breath.

Like Marea Ludwig, Samantha Balaj also received the Certificate of Merit from the Red Cross.

During a theater class at Slippery Rock University, a student collapsed and became unconscious. Originally, Samantha thought her classmate was having a seizure,  however, as she was assessing the scene, she noticed the student did not have pulse. At that moment, Samantha’s Red Cross training kicked in and she began CPR on the student until emergency services arrived.

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Rachel Telegdy, Samantha Balaj and Mike Parks, Regional CEO of the American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio

Samantha also helped lead a demonstration of hands-only CPR for those in attendance.

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Samantha Balaj demonstrating hands-only CPR

In addition to recognizing the heroism of area residents at the event, the Red Cross of Summit, Portage and Medina Counties presented the H. Peter Burg Community Leader Award to Virginia Addicott, for her leadership as the president and CEO of FedEx Custom Critical® and in the community.

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Rachel Telegdy, Virginia Addicott and Bill Considine

While CEO of FirstEnergy, and chair of the local Red Cross Board of Directors, H. Peter Burg established a legacy of dedicated service to the Greater Akron community. Following his death in 2004, the Red Cross established an award in Pete’s name to honor his memory and inspire others. By bestowing the award on Virginia, the Red Cross recognizes her lifetime of community service.

You too can be a local hero. If you are interested in taking a Red Cross training, such as CPR, life guarding and babysitting, please visit redcross.org/take-a-class to see upcoming classes and to register.

You can also be a hero to someone in need by donating life saving blood. Visit RedCrossBlood.org to find a blood drive near you and to schedule an appointment to give now.

If you would like to have the Red Cross provide a FREE hands-only CPR training for your business or organization, please fill out our event registration form.

To view more photos from the Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties Chapter Acts of Courage event, visit the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio’s Flickr page.

Sam Miller’s generosity touched many lives in Cleveland and across the country

Fatal fires in Cleveland prompted beloved philanthropist to start free smoke alarm program

By Jim McIntyre, American Red Cross

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Red Cross file photo

March 8, 2019 – Something had to be done.

That was the sentiment in 1992, when 28 people died in home fires in the city of Cleveland.  Half of the victims were children.

Sam Miller did that “something.”  Angered by the deaths, especially the loss of children, he partnered with the city of Cleveland and the American Red Cross to help establish an initiative to install smoke alarms in homes throughout the city.  It was called “Operation Save-A-Life,” and the effort had the desired effect; fire fatalities in the city of Cleveland plummeted.

Mr. Miller died on March 7.  He was 97 years old.

“The Northeast Ohio Community has lost an icon of caring, compassion and concern for his fellow man and his community,” said Tim O’Toole, Regional Disaster officer for the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio, and a former Assistant Fire Chief for the city of Cleveland. “Sam Miller was involved in many public safety initiatives over the years, but none more impactful than the Operation-Save-A-Life program he founded here in 1992.  This program has improved the safety of tens of thousands of residents in Northeast Ohio, and is now the model for the National Red Cross Home Fire Campaign.”

Since 2014, when the Red Cross started its Home Fire Campaign by installing smoke alarms, replacing batteries, and helping create home fire escape plans in homes across the country, more than 520 lives have been saved due directly to the efforts of Red Cross volunteers and partners.

“We are grateful for the passion Sam Miller had for saving the lives of the most vulnerable people in the city of Cleveland,” said Mike Parks, Regional CEO of the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio.  “That passion led to the effort that the American Red Cross continues to this day, and will no doubt save more lives in the future. Sam Miller’s contributions to the Red Cross will be felt for many years to come.”

This spring, the Red Cross will launch Sound the Alarm, a nationwide initiative to save lives by installing 100,000 smoke alarms in homes throughout the country from April 27 through May 12.

Sam Miller continued to support the Red Cross for years.  He served on the Board of Directors of the Greater Cleveland Chapter beginning in 1998, providing valued leadership and donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Red Cross’ lifesaving mission.  Following his tenure on the board, he was named Co-Chairman Emeritus.

“The impact of Mr. Miller’s initial donation for the residents of the city of Cleveland is now being felt nationwide by hundreds of thousands of people,” said Tim O’Toole.  “While his passing is a significant loss, it is outmatched by his legacy of community spirit that will live on for decades.”

To volunteer to install smoke alarms during Sound the Alarm this spring, visit soundthealarm.org/neo.

 

 

Believe it or not, daylight savings time is near- Time to turn and test

March 6, 2019- It’s time to spring forward when daylight saving time starts this Sunday, March 10. As people TURN their clocks forward one hour, the American Red Cross reminds everyone to TEST their smoke alarms.

This weekend is also a good time for everyone to take these lifesaving steps to help prepare households for home fires, the nation’s most frequent disaster:

  • Check smoke alarms and replace batteries if needed. Working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in a home fire by half. Test smoke alarms once a month. Change the batteries at least once a year, if your model requires it. Place smoke alarms on every level of your home, including inside and outside bedrooms, and sleeping areas.
  • Create and practice your home fire escape plan. Fire experts agree that people may have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home before it’s too late. This weekend, create a home fire escape plan with your household and practice it until everyone can escape in less than two minutes. Escape plans should include at least two ways to escape from every room and a meeting spot at a safe distance away from your home, such as your neighbor’s home or landmark like a specific tree in your front yard, where everyone knows where to meet.

 

HOME FIRE CAMPAIGN SAVING LIVES

Each year, the Red Cross responds to more than 62,000 disasters—the vast majority of which are home fires. Every day, seven people die in home fires, and most tragedies occur in homes without working smoke alarms. That’s why the Red Cross launched the Home Fire Campaign with community partners in 2014 to reduce needless deaths and injuries.

So far, the Home Fire Campaign has reached more than 1.7 million people and is credited with saving more than 500 lives across the country. The campaign’s volunteers and partners have also:

  • Installed more than 1.5 million free smoke alarms
  • Reached more than 1.3 million children through youth preparedness programs
  • Made more than 660,000 households safer from the threat of home fires

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HOME FIRE CAMPAIGN IN NORTHEAST OHIO

Here in Northeast Ohio, we have a long and successful history with the Sound the Alarm campaign. The program, then named Operation Save-A-Life began in 1992 when the Greater Cleveland Chapter Executive Director Steve Bullock teamed up with the City of Cleveland, after a string of fatal home fires across the city, to reduce injuries and deaths due to home fires by providing residents in at-risk neighborhoods with fire safety education and free smoke alarms and installations.

Today, the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio responds to roughly three home fires every 24 hours across the region.

Last year, as part of the campaign, the Red Cross in Northeast Ohio:

  • Installed 17,546 free smoke alarms throughout the region
  • Reached more than 4,400 area youth through youth preparedness programs
  • Made more than 6,200 households safer

You can visit redcross.org/homefires for free resources and to learn more about how to protect your family and your home from fire, or contact your local Red Cross chapter in Northeast Ohio to find out about smoke alarm installation events in their community.

The Red Cross depends on the generous support of the American public to fulfill its humanitarian mission. If you would like to support our lifesaving work, please consider volunteering or making a donation today by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 gift.

Winner winner, chicken dinner – thousands of them!

By Karen Conklin, Executive Director, Lake to River Chapter

Conklin, Karen

Working for the Red Cross provides wonderful opportunities to use our creative skills.

Recently I got a call from an over the road trucker who wanted to give us chickens – 3,200 chickens. Yes, that is the number he was offering – 3,200 ready to cook, whole chickens. It seems the birds were originally destined for Walmart, but the expiration date was two weeks out; Walmart declined them.  The driver had tried the local homeless mission and another organization with no luck.

Let’s face it…that is a lot of chickens!

The driver was on his way to the American Red Cross office in Jefferson County when he called with his generous offer. I was able to connect him with the Food Bank in Youngstown, and he was happy to make the drive to pass the chickens on to someone.  OK, anyone!

End of story:  3,200 families can now get a free chicken thanks to the power of the Red Cross brand and the power of community connections.

This incident clearly falls in my job description under “other duties as assigned.”

Editor’s note: While we don’t deliver chickens, we do have volunteer positions available for drivers to pick-up and deliver lifesaving blood products.  Visit redcross.org/volunteer to learn more about volunteer opportunities available.  And you can hear from current volunteers and staff members in person at one of our upcoming volunteer information sessions:

  • Cleveland (3747 Euclid Ave), March 6th from 5:30 – 6:30 pm
  • Cleveland (3747 Euclid Ave), March 9th from 10:00 – 11:00 am
  • Akron (501 W Market St), March 13th from 5:30 – 6:30 pm
  • Akron (501 W Market St), March 16th from 10:00 – 11:00 am

RSVP to Melanie Collins at melanie.collins4@redcross.org, or call 330-204-6615.