Meet ERV – the Newest Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicle

By Doug Bardwell – American Red Cross volunteer

Responding to disasters, both locally and nationally, a team of two or more American Red Cross volunteers typically responds in an officially marked vehicle. For larger events, the vehicle of choice will probably be ERV – the Emergency Response Vehicle.

Originally, Clara Barton used a wagon for battlefield rescue missions.  As World War I and II occurred, military-style trucks were marked with the large Red Cross symbol and put into service.

Not until 1984 did the Red Cross begin standardization of the fleet, settling on the boxy, ambulance-style vehicle most often associated with disaster relief. Able to drive into affected neighborhoods to feed hundreds after a hurricane or tornado, the box truck design was also able to be loaded with hundreds of mops, pails and disinfectants for flood survivors.Red Cross Ready (002)

The design served the Red Cross admirably for years, but much of the fleet was more than 10 years old and in 2013, the decision was made to upgrade the fleet with a more modern vehicle type.

Meet ERV – Gen 2

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The newest style ERV is sleeker, more maneuverable and will cost less to operate than the last generation of vehicles.  And although they are more affordable, the vehicles are still very costly, at about $150,000 each.  We are grateful to The Sam J. Frankino Foundation, and Greater Cleveland Board Member Lorraine Dodero, for the generous donation that made the purchase of the new ERV possible.

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Greater Cleveland Board Member Lorraine Dodero cuts the ribbon for the new ERV, with Regional CEO Mike Parks

With modern materials and manufacturing processes, the vehicles are expected to last longer as well. While still providing ample room for supplies, the new ERV can easily be transformed from day-to-day local emergency responses, to hauling supplies for a larger disaster.

Modern two-way radio communications and GPS dispatching systems are just the beginning of the technology installed in the newest generation of response vehicles.  Ergonomics are also a large consideration, making it easier for both Red Cross volunteers and those being served alike.

Want to meet ERV in person?  Consider joining the team of volunteers known as the Disaster Action Team – who respond to local fires and other disasters.  Become a volunteer and help us provide support and hope when all seems lost.  Begin your volunteer process here.

Thank You for Giving on Red Cross Giving Day

Your gift means so much.

We reached our Giving Day goal, and will be able to help 28,678 families thanks to the generosity of our donors. This brief video illustrates just a few of the ways your donations will help people when they face emergencies like home fires, hurricanes and flooding.

 

Just this week, disaster workers responded to the Rainbow Terrace apartment building fire in Cleveland, where residents from 30 units were forced to flee before dawn on Monday, March 26.  The Red Cross provided more than $8,200 dollars to help 63 residents meet their immediate needs.  While many of the residents are being housed in once-vacant apartments throughout the complex, they lost all of their possessions in the fire.

 

While Giving Day is over, the need for disaster relief is constant.  Red Cross workers respond to three home fires every 24 hours, on average, in Northeast Ohio.  The need for volunteers to assist people in their darkest hours is constant, too.  To learn more about volunteering, visit redcross.org/neo, and click the Volunteer tab.  You can also make a donation to disaster relief, to help people who suffer from disasters, big and small.

The Wake of Maria, Six Months Later

Though it has lost its luster as a headline to news outlets across the continental U.S., the damage done during Hurricane Maria, six months ago today, continues to affect those who have begun to pick up the pieces of their lives on Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Clearly, once the churning eye of the storm looked off toward the ocean, the devastating power of mother nature continued to wreak havoc on the islands. Touching not only those affected by the winds and rain of the hurricane herself, but also those who try to continue to build their life day-by-day. Big name stores have shuttered, tourism remains low, and by all accounts, tens of thousands remain without power.

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But the Red Cross remains a vital part of the effort to help — and provide hope for — those affected in the cyclical devastation of this disaster.

Along with our partners, the Red Cross has served more than 12.8 million meals and snacks and distributed over 5.9 million relief items across Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Photos by Sergio Rojas for The American Red Cross

Red Cross volunteers have provided more than 50,000 mental health and health services to support and care for those affected.

The international community continues to play an important role in the recovery efforts. More than 30 Red Cross disaster responders from around the globe deployed to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to help deliver aid. These responders came from Red Cross societies in Colombia, Costa Rica, Finland, Mexico, Spain, and from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

To support all of the urgent humanitarian needs of the Red Cross, click here to start a monthly donation. Thank you!

When Waters Rise, NEO Red Cross Responds – an Update

By Doug Bardwell – American Red Cross volunteer

Combine rapidly melting snow with heavy rainfall, and there’s always the possibility for river flooding. Last February, those conditions occurred throughout the upper Midwest states.

From our Northeast Ohio chapters alone, 28 disaster staff were deployed throughout Ohio, Indiana and Michigan.  First and foremost, shelters were opened for those whose homes were in danger of flooding. A safe and warm place to stay was extremely welcomed by those affected. Health service related needs were also attended to by our other volunteers.

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Red Cross volunteers prepare to assist flood victims in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Photo provided by Monica Bunner/American Red Cross volunteer

Monica Bunner, a Disaster Action Team member from the Summit, Portage & Medina chapter, was one of the first from this area to be deployed. Originally dispatched to a moderate-sized shelter in a high school in southern Ohio, she and her team provided a warm place to stay overnight as well as a place to come during the day to warm up, shower and recharge both the body and the cellphone.

Monica recalls one of the first residents to come to the shelter (and probably the last to leave) was an elderly gentleman who needed to be woken up at 3:30 am each day.  He would then walk into town and work 16-hour shifts at a fast food restaurant. Arriving back at the shelter in the evening, he would have dinner and immediately retire, only to repeat the cycle the next day.  His resilience to the situation touched everyone who met him.

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Volunteers in New Richmond, Ohio

Another resident had been living in a trailer near the water, and as the level of the river rose, he recounted that a number of kittens living below his trailer started poking their heads up through the vents in his floor. He quickly reached down to grab as many as he could and brought them with him to the local animal shelter.  Each day he would leave the shelter and walk back to his neighborhood looking for other kittens to save. In all, he rescued eight kittens during the week Monica worked at the shelter.

After a week, Monica was reassigned to DES (Distribution of Emergency Supplies) across Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, sometimes driving as much as three and one-half hours to reach affected areas.

Red Cross volunteers like Monica respond to emergencies thousands of times each year. It is only through the generous donations of Americans that we can always be ready to respond whenever an emergency threatens.  Please consider donating today at redcross.org/neo.

We Can Respond – Only With Your Help

By Doug Bardwell – American Red Cross Volunteer

When fires break out and rivers breach their banks, the Red Cross responds.  Such was the case this past weekend.

On Cleveland’s east side, a fire broke out in a six-story CMHA apartment building, Saturday 2/24.  By the time the fire was extinguished, 23 units were affected with light to heavy smoke damage, making the units unlivable.

Our Cleveland Disaster Action Team responded, issuing the 25 residents with debit cards totaling almost $9,000 to cover their immediate lodging needs and miscellaneous other expenses.

Going forward, each of those families will be contacted by caseworkers from the Cleveland office, offering additional assistance in recovering from the fire.

At the same time, in southern Ohio, the request for assistance came as the Ohio River crested at more than 60 feet Sunday night, flooding parts of the Tri-State area in Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia.

In New Richmond, Ohio, if the water reached 59 feet, it would be at many homes door steps. More than that, and the water would flood inside.

The Red Cross anticipated the flooding and responded to the community’s needs by setting up shelters for the affected families. But, they needed additional assistance to properly staff the shelters.

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Red Cross shelter established at the Alexandria Community Center in Indiana 

Fortunately, the Northeast Ohio Region has many trained staff and volunteers that were able to drop everything and head for southern Ohio to assist. Two dozen people were assigned to the job, including five volunteers who had taken specialized training for just such an occurrence.

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This photo, taken near East Liverpool, Ohio, shows the Ohio River Monday afternoon.  Photo Credit:  Karen Conklin/American Red Cross

Since the major hurricanes hit last year, a number of people have responded and taken training to assist in mass care sheltering opportunities. But, we could always use more, as spring flooding is not limited to the Ohio River.

Please consider volunteering and receiving free Red Cross training for disaster response. Help is always needed in a variety of specialties from sheltering to feeding, and from communications and IT to logistics.  We can only respond, however, if we have sufficient volunteers that are properly trained in disaster services.

To learn about all the opportunities to be of assistance, please visit the Red Cross volunteer page. Opportunities exist for young adults, seniors and everyone in-between.

 

Red Cross Workers Respond to Multiple Home Fires

Nearly a dozen responses to disasters over the holiday weekend

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The lives of more than 50 residents of Northeast Ohio were disrupted over the New Year holiday weekend by disasters, the vast majority of them home fires.

Red Cross disaster workers responded to home fires in 5 Northeast Ohio counties, providing assistance to 29 adults and 24 children.  Immediate financial assistance totaling $11,415 was provided to the affected residents, to help them find suitable lodging, or to meet other immediate needs.

Other assistance, including comfort kits and initial case work was also provided.

“It’s never a good time to go through something like a home fire,” said Tim O’Toole, Regional Disaster Officer.  “It’s especially hard on families to be chased from their homes during the holidays.  We are grateful there was no loss of life over the weekend, and we’re thankful for our dedicated volunteers who responded to these residents in need.”

Red Cross workers from the Northeast Ohio Region responded to disasters, including multiple family home fires, in Cleveland, North Olmsted, Garfield Heights, Chesterland, Sandusky, Girard, Cadiz and Monroeville.

In addition to our weekend disaster response, the Red Cross is continuing to provide support to several warming centers in the city of Cleveland, with cots and blankets as requested.

The bitter cold temperatures are expected to continue to affect millions of people this week and the Red Cross has steps they should follow to stay safe during the ongoing deep freeze:

WINTER SAFETY TIPS

  • Wear layers of clothing, a hat, mittens and waterproof, insulated boots.
  • Be careful when tackling strenuous tasks like shoveling snow in cold temperatures.
  • Check on your neighbors, especially elderly people living alone, people with disabilities and children.
  • Bring pets indoors. If they can’t come inside, make sure they have enough shelter to keep them warm and that they can get to unfrozen water.
  • Watch for hypothermia and frostbite. Hypothermia symptoms include confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering. Frostbite symptoms include numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, or waxy feeling skin.

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WINTER TRAVEL SAFETY

Stay off the road if possible during severe weather. If you have to drive, follow these tips:

  • Make sure everyone has their seat belts on and give your full attention to the road.
  • Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. Sudden stops are difficult on snowy roadways.
  • Don’t use cruise control when driving in winter weather.
  • Don’t pass snow plows.
  • Ramps, bridges and overpasses freeze before roadways.

PREVENT HOME FIRES

With the cold temperatures there is often a rise in the number of home fires. Follow these tips to help prevent a fire in your home:

  • Keep all potential sources of fuel paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs – at least three feet away from sources of heat.
  •  Never leave portable heaters and fireplaces unattended.
  • Place space heaters on a level, hard and nonflammable surface. Keep children and pets away from space heaters. Look for models that shut off automatically if the heater falls over.
  • Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
  • Keep fire in your fireplace by using a glass or metal fire screen.


DOWNLOAD APPS People can download the Red Cross Emergency App for instant access to weather alerts for their area and where loved ones live. Expert medical guidance and a hospital locator are included in the First Aid App in case travelers encounter any mishaps. Both apps are available to download for free in app stores or at redcross.org/apps.

 

Help Humanity – And Get a Tax Deduction

It’s been quite a year – Red Cross supporters, volunteers and donors achieved incredible things for families and individuals in need, in Northeast Ohio and throughout the country.

Here’s a look back at some of the incredible work we accomplished with the help of our partners in 2017:

  • We were able to provide 658,000 overnight shelter stays to people affected by imagejpeg_0 (002)disasters like Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, historic wildfires and hundreds of home fires. In Northeast Ohio, we responded to about 1,000 incidents, the vast majority of them home fires, helping more than 4,100 people.
  • We distributed more than 7 million disaster relief items during these countless disasters, helping families who had lost everything get back on their feet. In Northeast Ohio, we provided about $800,000 in financial assistance to residents who experienced a disaster.
  • More than 5.7 million people received Red Cross Health and Safety training, including life-saving emergency and first-aid information from Red Cross mobile apps.
  • IMG_4281Volunteers installed 418,460 smoke alarms, including more than 16,000 in Northeast Ohio to make homes safer, bringing the total number installed to more than one million since our Home Fire Campaign began in 2014.
  • More than 2.7 million people chose to give blood or platelets through the Red Cross, helping to save lives at about 2,600 hospitals throughout the country.
  • Over 76,900 military families benefited from emergency communication services provided by the Red Cross.

Each family we meet has a unique story. We were there when we needed to be, for those who needed us most, thanks entirely to supporters and donors.

The need won’t change in 2018, which is why we need to be ready before the next emergency. Will you make your year-end, tax-deductible gift to the Red Cross today?