Akron and the World Owe Thanks to Mary E. Gladwin

Looking back 100 years at the Summit, Portage & Medina Counties Chapter

(Editor’s Note:  This is the first in a series of centennial-related stories involving the founding of Red Cross chapters in Northeast Ohio)

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

Have you ever asked yourself, “What will I be remembered for?”

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Mary E. Gladwin 1887 – Photo courtesy of University of Akron Archives*

I’m not sure if Mary E. Gladwin (1861-1939) ever asked herself that question, but if she had, her answer could certainly put any of us to shame.

Born in England, Mary and her family moved to Akron in 1868. At age 26, she graduated from Buchtel College (which later became Akron University) and began to teach.  Moved by her father’s stories of being saved by a nurse on a French battlefield, she longed to do more than teach. Moving to Boston in 1894, she began training as a nurse at Boston City Hospital.

During the Spanish-American war, she moved to Cuba as a Red Cross volunteer, followed closely by a stint in the Philippines. After years of service in the field, she was readmitted to Boston City Hospital’s School of Nursing, receiving her degree in 1902.

Early in 1904, Gladwin served in Hiroshima, Japan during the Russo-Japanese War, where she received multiple awards for her service. Later that year, she returned to serve as Superintendent for Beverly Hospital in Massachusetts. That was followed by a move to New York City, taking the same role at Woman’s Hospital.

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Mary Gladwin (standing 4th from right) attending to patients during the Russo-Japanese War*

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Mary Gladwin in Belgrade with two Serbian officers-Photo Courtest of University of Akron archives

In 1913, the greatest natural disaster to ever hit Ohio was the Great Dayton Flood. Gladwin answered the call and moved back to Ohio to direct the Red Cross’ nursing services.  Staying in Ohio, she moved to Cleveland later in 1913, organizing and directing the Visiting Nurses Association of Akron.  Eventually, she became president of the Ohio State Nurses Association, and director for the American Nurses Association.As World War I broke out in 1914, Gladwin went with the Red Cross to Belgrade, Serbia, caring for 9,000 soldiers in a hospital with a designed occupancy of 1,000.  Care ranged from battlefield injuries to fighting the typhus plague.

Returning in 1916, she became an incorporator and member of the first Board of Directors for the Summit County Chapter of the American Red Cross.  The chapter received its charter on June 29, 1916 and one day later, the women’s auxiliary was formed.

Heading back to Europe, she once again was on the front lines in Serbia and then Salonica, Greece, until the war ended in 1919. Returning to the US, after becoming the first recipient of the Florence Nightingale Medal, she decided her new focus would be nursing education and directed various schools of nursing until her death in Akron in 1939.

While we can all be in awe of her remarkable life of service, we can also see how perfectly her life’s work mirrored the mission of today’s Red Cross – “preventing and alleviating human suffering in the face of emergencies, by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.”

If you’d like to be remembered for something, become a volunteer. Learn more by logging on to the Red Cross website.

*(Note: All photos from the Mary Gladwin Papers at Archival Services at The University of Akron.

 

 

 

 

 

Smoke Alarm Requests Spike

Red Cross, Partners Hard at Work to Fulfill Requests Following Fatal Akron Fire

In the immediate aftermath of the devastating fire in Akron’s North Hill neighborhood on Saturday, December 3, hundreds of Northeast Ohio residents called the Red Cross to request free smoke alarms.

The Red Cross offers free smoke alarms, free installation, and free home fire safety inspections for every residence in need in Northeast Ohio.  This initiative, known locally as Operation Save-A-Life, began in Cleveland in 1992.  It has since been rolled out nationwide, with the goal of reducing serious injury and death due to home fires by 25% over a five year period.

On Tuesday, December 6, the Red Cross and the Akron Fire Department went door-to-door in the neighborhood where the fatal fire occured, offering to install smoke alarms in every home.  Many media outlets covered the effort, including the Akron Beacon Journal, WEWS, WJW, and WOIO.

“It’s very unfortunate that it takes something like this for the community to say, ‘Yes, we need smoke detectors,’ ” Rachel D’Attoma, Executive Director of the Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties Chapter told the ABJ.

If your home doesn’t have a working smoke alarm on every floor, log onto the Operation Save-A-Life page on the Red Cross website, or call 330-535-2030 in theAkron area, 216-361-5535 in Greater Cleveland, or 866-319-7160 in the Youngstown area.

Another Successful Save-a-Life Saturday

Would you know how to save someone’s life if they dropped to the ground in front of you?

Thanks to our ongoing partnership with the Cleveland Clinic Akron General, over 30 community members now know how to perform hands-only CPR.

Learning cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR for short, is a vital skill. The Red Cross has set a goal of having one person in every household able to perform CPR. Through programs like Save-a-Life Saturday (which is held annually) and our free Citizen CPR courses, we are well on our way!

Here is a quick video that demonstrates how to perform CPR:

 

 

To learn more about our Citizen CPR course, contact your local chapter. For a complete listing of First Aid and CPR certification courses near you, visit redcross.org/takeaclass.

 

Photos: Mary Williams/American Red Cross

 

Akron Mayor Helps Launch Operation Save-A-Life Partnership

One more family in Akron is now better protected from the dangers of a home fire.

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Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan and several members of the Akron Fire Department were joined by Rachel D’Attoma, Executive Director of the Summit, Portage and Medina Counties Chapter of the American Red Cross on Thursday, April 21st to install smoke alarms in the home of  Amy Villagomez and her family.

The installation marked the official start of Operation Save-A-Life, a new partnership between the Red Cross and the Akron Fire Department, designed to offer Akron residents free smoke alarms and valuable fire safety information.  Interested residents are encouraged to call the Red Cross Smoke Alarm Hotline at 330-535-2030.

The Villagomez family was grateful for the new smoke alarms.  The alarms that had been previously installed in their home expired in 2009.

“I had no idea smoke alarms have an expiration date,” said Amy Villagomez, who lives in the home with husband Steve and their two children.

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Smoke alarms have a 10 year lifespan.

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Mayor Horrigan installed two smoke alarms in the Villagomez home.  One, supplied by the Akron Fire Department, is designed for hearing impaired residents.  It was installed on a wall in the bedroom of one of the children, who has a hearing impairment.  The alarm includes a strobe light when activated.

The mayor also installed a more traditional smoke alarm in a hallway of the home, supplied by the Red Cross.  The alarm has a lithium battery designed to last 10 years.

“The importance of having smoke detectors in all of our residents’ homes is vital to safety,” said mayor Horrigan, who was joined by Marilyn Keith, President of Akron City Council and Ward 8 representative.  The Villagomez family lives in Ward 8.

Keith Declan Horrigan

Prior to the smoke alarm installations, Mrs. Villagomez was given important fire safety information and assistance in designing a fire escape plan.

“A recent Red Cross study found that many people think they have up to 10 minutes to escape from a burning home,” according to Rachel.  “It is closer to two minutes. Smoke alarms save lives.”

Red Cross Cat

Operation Save-A-Life is part of the Red Cross Home Fire Preparedness Campaign, designed to reduce the number of fatalities from home fires by 25% in a five-year time span.  Residents in other parts of Northeast Ohio can learn how to obtain free smoke alarms in their counties by logging onto redcross.org/neoosal.

Photo credits: Jim McIntyre/American Red Cross, and Bruce Ford/ City of Akron (with permission)

 

 

 

20th Annual Acts of Courage event in Akron a success!

We are so pleased to be able to honor those in our community who have acted courageously to save the life of another. Each of the stories we have presented at the annual Red Cross Acts of Courage in Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties over the past twenty years have inspired so many people to step up and do the same.

We continue to be amazed by these people.

This year the Red Cross presented the Acts of Courage award to ten individuals.  Whether saving a woman from a home fire, pulling a man from the wreckage of a car accident or performing an abdominal thrust to save a classmate, each of these honorees are so deserving of the recognition.

Here are their stories:

Colin Bues was recognized for performing abdominal thrusts to save the life of a classmate.

The self-described class clown, 9-year-old Weston Bauer was throwing cheese puffs into the air and catching them in his mouth during a classmate’s birthday party. One of these got lodged in his throat. Weston couldn’t breathe. He motioned that he was choking, but the other children thought he joking. Colin Bues, also 9-years-old, knew something was wrong. He ran to Weston and performed a quick abdominal thrust, the kind he had seen on a safety poster in the lunchroom at school. The puff went flying out of Weston’s mouth.

After confirming that Weston was okay, Colin threw the bag of cheese puffs in the trash. He was very pleased that he had helped his friend, but didn’t want it to happen again.

Edward Kocsis Jr. was recognized for saving a man following a car crash.

As Edward (Ed) Kocsis, Jr. and his fiancé were sitting at a red light, he noticed a car coming over the hill. It seemed like the driver was intent on rear-ending Ed, but at the last moment erratically pulled away. As the car drove past, Ed could see that the other driver was slumped over. The vehicle blew out a telephone pole and rolled.

“You see someone in trouble, and it’s just natural,” said Ed of his next move. “When you see something like that you don’t think, you just act.”

The driver side door was crushed, and through the window he could see that the driver’s head was twisted. Ed smelled fluid leaking on the hot engine. Carefully, he climbed in and pulled the bloody man out of the smoking car. Ed sat with him, cradling his head until first responders appeared.

Officer Brandon Bridgewater was recognized for saving multiple families and carrying a child from an apartment fire.

Three days into his career as a full-time Windham Police Officer, Brandon Bridgewater was first on the scene of an apartment building in flames. Running through the residence, he pounded on doors to wake residents. At one apartment, a startled mother and small child turned back for another child who was upstairs. Officer Bridgewater ran into the smoke filled apartment and carried the second child out into the cold night.

As they watched the flames, Officer Bridgewater kept the numerous, displaced families warm by bringing coffee from a nearby convenience store and letting the young and elderly wait in his cruiser until the Red Cross was on the scene to assist them.

Carolyn Hanson, and Kristin Dowling were recognized for performing CPR on a neighbor who had collapsed.

It began as a very unusual day for Carolyn Hanson. She had woken up with a backache on the morning of Dec. 30, 2014. When her husband suggested that they take a walk to work out the kinks on the nearby City of Stow Hike and Bike trail, she decided to take him up on it. Walking on the trail was something they did regularly, though not usually at that time.

On their way they met up with David Dluzyn, a neighbor who had just finished his morning run. As they were talking, David stopped suddenly and fell backwards – smack – on to the pavement. The couple called 911, and Carolyn began CPR. Neighbors began to come out to see what was happening. Carolyn, not knowing anything about David except for his name and that he lived somewhere close by, instructed one to look in David’s shoe where he had previously mentioned that he kept identifying information. After locating the slip of paper, the neighbor ran home to get his daughter, Kristin Dowling, who was also trained in CPR.

Kristen, who had received Red Cross training as a lifeguard, and Carolyn began to trade off doing compressions until the paramedics arrived.

David is recovering and continues to run on the trail.

 

Kizzy Spaulding was recognized for rescuing a woman from her burning home.

“You notice things,” said Kizzy Spaulding, an Akron-area postal worker. “Clients start to become family.”

As Kizzy walked her East Akron mail route, an unusual smell permeated the neighborhood. She noticed that one of her clients was not out working in her yard as was her daily routine. Kizzy sensed that something wasn’t right. She doubled-back and opened the client’s mail slot. She glanced through the small area and noticed the smell was coming from the home. She could see the elderly client holding her head and laying on a couch inside.

Kizzy began to call to the woman. She seemed dazed and did not respond. Fearing for her client, Kizzy pushed open the door and carried the slight woman outside. She called 911 before she returned to the house and doused the smoking stove.

Once first responders were on the scene, Kizzy picked up her mail pouch and returned to her route.

Scott Nelson and Bob Moore were recognized saving a man who was drowning in the freezing waters of the Ohio and Erie Canal.

It was well below freezing on January 9, 2015. Bob Moore and Scott Nelson were waiting for a car repair to be completed, and decided to find some place close to eat. They found a small establishment right on the Ohio & Erie Canal.

Inside they chatted with the owner, Stephen Risner, and made friends with his dog, Sam.

Shortly after ordering their food, a woman came into the lounge shouting that there was a man thrashing in the frozen canal. Scott and Bob ran out to see what was going on and found Sam, wet and whimpering, wandering the shores of the canal and barking for his owner. Stephen had fallen in while trying to rescue Sam from the water.

Scott waded into the water, while Bob retrieved a long extension cord from the car. After tossing the cord, the two were finally able to pull Stephen from the icy water.  First responders arrived on the scene and helped Stephen up the embankment and treated Scott, whose clothes were wet and cold.

Sam was put in a warm car.

Ashley Feldman was recognized for saving man who was had fallen outdoors during the polar vortex.

On one of the coldest mornings of 2015, Ashley Feldman was on her way to her job as a receptionist when she noticed something in the open field near the dog park at Liberty Park. The object struck her as odd, so she stopped to investigate.

It turned out to be an elderly man who had gone to the park to let his dog run. He had lost his footing in the deep snow and, having recently had replacement surgery in both knees, was unable to pull himself up.

Despite not being dressed for the frigid temperatures, Ashley ran to him. As she tried to provide him some warmth, he confided that he had been laying there for 45 minutes.

Kelli Chronister was recognized for performing CPR on a fellow bike rider during the Sweet Corn Challenge.

Kelli Chronister

In the July Sweet Corn Challenge bike ride, Kelli Chronister was riding behind a man who fell off his bike in the middle of the road at mile 22 of the 25 mile ride. She recognized a full-arrest heart attack and immediately started CPR. She continued for several minutes and as other cyclists and the police got to the scene, they took turns administering the CPR. When the emergency crews arrived they administered the defibrillator. The 52-year-old victim later learned that he had a serious heart condition that required surgery. The emergency people said that without that immediate help given by Kelli and others he would have died. Kellie teaches respiratory therapy at UA.

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To commemorate twenty years of celebrating acts of heroism, we launched a CrowdRise campaign at the event to encourage community members to #GetAlarmed and be a hero in our community by supporting our smoke alarms initiative, Operation Save-A-Life.  Through donations given at the event we raised $2,015 which will help us install smoke alarms in nearly 67 homes! If you wish to donate, visit bit.ly/GetAlarmedSPM. We would also encourage you to share the message with your friends and family. Together we can help save lives.

This year’s event raised nearly $140,000. Proceeds from last night will assist us in providing Red Cross services throughout Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties.

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In addition to recognizing the heroism of area residents at the event, we presented the H. Peter Burg Award to Leonard Foster, a community member who has been selfless in service to the community by demonstrating a lifelong commitment to humanitarian causes, charitable organizations and the vitality and welfare of the local community.

Extraordinary things happen every day…

Imagine waking up to a blaring smoke alarm.

 Through the bleary haze of your sleep-filled eyes, you begin to realize what is going on.

 Your first thoughts are of others who occupy your home – maybe your spouse, the children, a pet. You think about how to get them to safety. You trace the routes in your head.

 But then an extraordinary thing happens. In the fog of fear and smoke, you hear a neighbor calling out to you.

 “Are you all right? How can I help?”

 In that single act of selflessness, a hero is born.

This March, during national Red Cross Month, the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio will honor the heroes – those ordinary members of our community who acted in extraordinary ways – in two communities.

The Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties Chapter will host the 20th Annual Acts of Courage on Thursday, March 3 at the Akron/Fairlawn Hilton. All through 2015, people were asked to submit their heroes. We will feature the stories of the honorees on this blog following the event. Tickets are available by going to the website: www.redcross.org/acts16

The Greater Cleveland Heroes event will take place on March 11. For information or to order tickets, please visit www.ClevelandHeroes.com, email laurie.klingensmith@redcross.org, or call 216-912-4091.

Wreaths Across America

On Saturday, the Red Cross assisted a national program, Wreaths Across America, at the Western Reserve National Cemetery in Rittman.

The annual program remembers and honors the fallen at national cemeteries across the country by placing wreaths on veteran headstones on a certain day in December – this year it was December 12. It’s an amazing program – the wreaths are sponsored by citizens across the nation, then trucked in to each of the cemeteries by volunteers. The wreaths are then placed by local volunteers.

The Red Cross was on site to pass out coffee, hot chocolate and water. The hot beverages are usually a welcome treat for the volunteers, but with Saturday’s balmy temperatures water was the most requested drink.

Following the placement on individual grave sites, the cemetery holds a ceremony which places a wreath in memorial of every veteran in each branch of service.

For more photos from the 2015 ceremony, please visit our Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties Chapter Facebook page.