Sept. 11 experience moves resident to become avid Red Cross volunteer

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

Sept. 11, 2001 made significant impressions on most every adult living at the time. It certainly did for Susie Muetzel, an American Red Cross volunteer with the Lake to River Chapter.

Susie Muetel

Susie Muetzel

“At the time, my husband was a Cleveland firefighter and I was working for the clerk of Cleveland City Council,” said Susie. “After being told we needed to evacuate the building, as I drove home, I recall seeing the plane that was Flight 93 flying overhead when all planes were supposed to be grounded. I recall feeling sorry and helpless and terrified. Within a couple hours, I determined that I was never again going to feel like there was nothing I could do. There was no way I wanted that feeling of helplessness.”

Shortly thereafter, Susie saw on TV that the Red Cross was looking for volunteers. She still remembers making the call and talking with Disaster Specialist Debbie Chitester, who now serves as the Disaster Program Manager for the Summit Portage and Medina Counties Chapter.  Debbie helped Susie her get her initial training. On October 1, she began her volunteer service. She wasn’t able to deploy to New York or Pennsylvania back in 2001, but since then, she has deployed to countless hurricanes and floods, working in an Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) and offering meals to those affected. She most recently responded to Hurricane Florence.

Susie&Sue

Susie Muetzel, left, and Red Cross volunteer Sue Wisdom

Locally, between national disasters, she keeps very busy with her chapter, covering four of the five counties along the Ohio-Pennsylvania border. “Here at home, I’m a DAT (Disaster Action Team) leader, the DAT Coordinator and weekend AOC (Administrator-On-Call),” said Susie.

That could be the most rewarding part of her volunteer work, explained Susie. “I recall one weekend when we had back-to-back fires, each with fatalities. When we go to a fire and are able to provide some degree of comfort to someone who has lost everything and is desperate for help, that’s extremely rewarding.”

If someone is looking for volunteer opportunities, take it from Susie, “You get so much more out of it than you could ever possibly give. It sounds cliché, but it’s true. When you come home from helping someone, even in the middle of the night, you know that you did something good and really helped them. If you have that empathetic heart, it fills you up in ways that you never dreamed of.”

To explore the various volunteer possibilities open to you, visit https://neoredcross.org/volunteer/ and begin your online application.  There is a critical need for volunteers to join the Disaster Action Team in the Lake to River Chapter, which includes Ashtabula, Trumbull, Mahoning, Columbiana and Jefferson Counties.  Residents there can get more information by calling the chapter at 866-319-7160.

Flood Safety Tips Timely as Casework Continues in Boardman

BOARDMAN, Ohio – In the 10 days since torrential rains caused localized flooding in this Mahoning County community, American Red Cross workers have helped 115 residents with immediate financial assistance.  And the disaster responders continue reaching out to residents in the area who may have been affected by the unexpected flood waters.

boardman flooding2

Three dozen cases have been opened so far, with a total of $12,788 dollars committed to help residents clean-up their homes and make them livable again.  More than two dozen cleaning kits, containing mops, brooms, bleach and other cleaning supplies have been distributed.

boardman flooding 3

Photo credit:  Kristen Gallagher/American Red Cross

“Most use the money we offer them to buy additional cleaning supplies,” said Renee Palagyi, Senior Regional Disaster Program Manager for the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio. “Some pay for laundry services, for steam-cleaning upholstery, that kind of thing,” she said.

Like most Northeast Ohioans, Renee encountered heavy rain on her ride into work Tuesday morning.  With the damage done by the flooding in Boardman in mind, she shared flood safety information with the rest of the Regional staff in her daily report.

Staying Safe Indoors

  • Turn off the power and water mains if instructed to do so by local authorities.
  • Boil tap water until water sources have been declared safe.
  • Avoid contact with floodwater. It may be contaminated with sewage or contain dangerous insects or animals.
  • Continue listening to local area radio, NOAA radio or TV stations for the latest information and updates.
  • Don’t use gas or electrical appliances that have been flooded.
  • Dispose of any food that comes into contact with flood water .

 

Staying Safe Outdoors

  • Don’t walk, swim or drive through floodwater. Just six inches of fast-flowing water can knock you over and two feet will float a car.
  • If caught on a flooded road with rapidly rising waters, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground.

    image

  • Don’t walk on beaches or riverbanks.
  • Don’t allow children to play in or near flood water.
  • Avoid contact with floodwater. It may be contaminated with sewage or contain dangerous insects or animals.
  • Stay out of areas subject to flooding. Underpasses, dips, low spots, canyons, washes, etc. can become filled with water.

“I think everyone needs a reminder to follow the tips the Red Cross espouses,” she said. “It’s too easy to think we’re invulnerable, and we’re not.”

A Week at Lake to River

And What a Week it Was!

As I write this it is Friday night and I am reflecting on our amazing Northeast Ohio volunteers and the Lake to River volunteers so dear to my heart. This has been a week of unrelenting high temperatures and seemingly unrelenting disasters.

Since Sunday, just five days ago, the Lake to River Chapter has, thanks to our volunteers and donors, accomplished the following:

· Canteen for an explosion in Mahoning County that involved several fire departments. Good news is that no one was hurt

· Responded to six home fires

· Held First Aid/CPR classes

· Sent Smoke Alarm teams out on Tuesday to install and were blessed on Friday to have Red Cross volunteers from Canton help install alarms in another 15 or so homes. Thank you to our Canton colleagues for your time and talent.

· Held our 7th annual Acts of Courage event that raises vital dollars to support our mission. Without the help of volunteer’s, name tags would not get done, no one would know where to sit and cars may have parked on an active runway at the 910th Airlift Base.

LTR Heroes1·

Friday, Saturday and Sunday board members, DAT volunteers, support volunteers and others will help us man two locations at the Thunder Over the Valley airshow this weekend. All this in 90 degree heat.

· Saddest of all, for two days we canteened for 50 fire, police, park and rescue divers who were looking for a 16-year-old boy in Mosquito Lake.

In this week our volunteers have experienced the joy of our Acts of Courage Event, got to meet one of the Thunderbird Pilots, met two WWII veterans who were honored, and the sadness of helping multiple families who lost everything in a fire and also had to watch from inside the crime scene tape as divers dragged the lake for a child.

This is the work of the Red Cross; it is what we do across Northeast Ohio and this country.  Our mission is powered by these mighty volunteers whose heart, compassion and knowledge make a difference every day.

As a Chapter Executive, I am humbled by their resiliency and grateful for what they do for us whenever and wherever there is a need. I know all the Chapter Executives and staff share my passion for each and every one of you.

It has been a long, tough week but if next week is even tougher, I know we are up to the challenge. Now it’s time for a Friday night glass of wine!

A grateful Executive Director…Karen Conklin, Lake To River Chapter.

*The Lake to River Chapter serves Ashtabula, Trumbull, Mahoning, Columbiana and Jefferson Counties.  See  our photo album here.  Photos provided by Paul Wadowick, Red Cross Communications volunteer.

 

More Than a Half-Century of Red Cross Service

By Anmol Nigam, American Red Cross Communications Volunteer

jay3

Photo credit: Paul Wadowick, American Red Cross Communications Volunteer

When Jay Rosenthal was in his youth he witnessed an event so provoking, he would later decide to spend over fifty years of his life to prevent a recurrence.

It was the 1950’s, and Jay was roughly twelve years old, enjoying a beautiful Fourth of July at a the cool waters of a local pool along with hundreds of other people from his area. A sudden downpour prompted a mass exit from the pool.

As the crowd emptied, Jay would recall an “announcement on the PA system about a lost three year-old boy.” The body of the boy was found in the pool. He could not swim. Jay watched as the lifeguards attempted without success to resuscitate the boy.

Jay remembers with sadness and says, “in the fifties CPR and AEDs were only something of the future.”

It was from that moment, Jay would devote his life to preventing the loss of life by learning how to save lives and by training others to be safe in and prepare for emergencies. Jay continues to help the people in his community by his fifty-three years of service to the American Red Cross.

Jay now helps staff the Lake to River Chapter headquarters in Youngstown and teaches CPR and first aid classes.

Karen Conklin, Executive Director of the Lake to River Chapter, is one of Jay’s biggest fans. “Jay comes here every day to volunteer. He is so valuable. If we can’t find something we ask him. He is a fabulous First Aid /CPR instructor but his passion is teaching kids to swim. Ask him if he has any idea how many children and adults he has taught. He might have 53 years in, but thousands can swim because of him.”

When he’s not volunteering for the Red Cross, Jay coordinating a “Learn-to-Swim” program in community schools.

When we asked Jay the secret to his commitment, his response was “it’s in the blood.”