Operation Save-A-Life Lives Up to its Name, Again and Again

More Lives Saved Across the Country Thanks to Smoke Alarms, Education

159.  That is the number of documented lives saved as of the close of 2016, thanks to the Home Fire Campaign, which the Red Cross rolled out nationwide in 2014.

The campaign is modeled after Operation Save-A-Life, which began as a partnership between the Cleveland Fire Department and the Greater Cleveland Chapter of the Red Cross in 1992.

The 25th anniversary of Operation Save-A Life will be recognized at the 2017 Red Cross Fire and Ice Ball, which takes place on March 25 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Cleveland.
Together with corporations, community groups and other partners, the Red Cross provides residents with valuable fire safety information and installs free smoke alarms in homes where they are needed.32318085516_522639e1c2_z

“Thanks to the tireless work of our volunteers, employees, local fire departments, and other partners in the Home Fire Campaign, today we celebrate 159 documents lives saved,” said Harvey Johnson, Senior Vice President, Disaster Cycle Services.

Partners helping the Red Cross achieve its goal of reducing deaths and injury due to home fires by 25% range from the employees of Lincoln Electric to a group of missionaries from the Akron Stake of the Church of  Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Eight elders of the  church recently installed 60 alarms in the homes of people in need.

“The group is very dedicated, said Debbie Chitester, Disaster Program Manager for the Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties Chapter.  “I have worked with missionaries on disaster operations across the country. They always come through for us and the people we serve.”

Your group can be a part of Operation Save-A-Life in Northeast Ohio by sponsoring a smoke alarm installation project.  Log onto redcross.org/neoosal, and click on your county to register.

The smoke alarms you install could be the next ones that save a life.

CPR Instructor Honored for Saving a Life

Red Cross Honors Instructor Who Used His Training at the Cuyahoga County Fair

 

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Officer Jim Mikesina

Jim Mikesina is not a superhero.  He did, however, scale a wall at the Cuyahoga County Fair this year to assist man who was in need of immediate medical attention.

Officer Mikesina was providing security at the fair in August when a worker suffered cardiac arrest. The fallen man was on a carnival ride platform, and Jim took the most direct route to get to him…by climbing a wall adjacent to the platform.

Fortunately for the fair worker, Jim is a certified American Red Cross First Aid/CPR/AED instructor, and administered CPR immediately.  Coworkers estimate Jim applied chest compressions approximately 400 times before the emergency squad was able to get to get the victim into an ambulance.

The Cuyahoga County Agricultural Society recently honored Jim with a plaque, in recognition of his “Extraordinary lifesaving heroism in the line of duty.”

The Red Cross also recognized Jim with a Certificate of Appreciation, “For exerting extraordinary effort and utilizing your American Red Cross CPR training to alleviate the suffering of a fellow human being.”

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Officer Jim Mikesina is congratulated by Mike Parks, CEO, Northeast Ohio Region

“Officer Mikesina went above and beyond the call of duty to reach the victim so swiftly,” said Mike Parks, CEO of the Northeast Ohio Region. “His determination and his Red Cross training certainly paid off, as he was able to save a life that day.”

First Aid/CPR/AED training is available throughout Northeast Ohio.  Log onto redcross.org/neo and click “Training and Certification” at the top of the page to find a list of classes.

Who knows…maybe your instructor will be someone who has used his or her training to save a life, like officer James Mikesina did this year at the Cuyahoga County Fair.

Famed Speaker Makes Jubilant Return

Thanks Responders Who Performed CPR, Used an AED, Saved His Life

“You guys saved my life. It doesn’t get any better than that!”

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Dr. Stephen Sroka

Those were the first words uttered by Dr. Stephen Sroka at the Medina Performing Arts Center on Friday morning, October 21, 2016, on the very stage where 9 months earlier, he died.

Dr. Sroka, President of Health Education Consultants and a popular speaker at professional educational and school safety conferences, suffered cardiac arrest and collapsed on January 15, 2016, while delivering a presentation on heroin use to the staff of the Medina City Schools.  Fortunately, two School Resource Officers and an associate principal were able to respond immediately.  All had received CPR/AED training.

“We were at the right place at the right time,” said Officer Mike Wesner. “I mean we were there within seconds.”

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School Resource Officers Al Roland, left, and Mike Wesner with Dr. Stephen Sroka on Octiber 21, 2016

Officer Wesner retrieved an automated external defibrillator (AED) while Officer Al Roland performed CPR. Associate Principal Andy Brenner, who had received AED training just two weeks earlier, administered the shock that restarted Sroka’s heart.

He has returned to the lecture circuit, but Dr. Sroka’s message now includes support of CPR and AED training, such as that offered by the American Red Cross.

Log onto redcross.org, click on Training and Certification, and enter your zip code to find a list of classes, times and locations.  Classes are also available for groups, organizations and companies.   Call Phil Ormandy at 216-426-5080 for more information.

“It saves lives,” Stephen Sroka notes. “I can attest from my still beating heart.”

Fire Drives Residents from Home, Draws Red Cross Workers for Help

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This resident of a home on E. 82nd St. in Cleveland received Red Cross assistance, including money to buy shoes, after fleeing his burning home in bare feet.

He stood in his bare feet as he watched his home burn.  The man, one of three residents of a multi-family house on E. 82nd Street in Cleveland, was awakened by firefighters pounding on his door just after dawn Monday morning, and fled with no shoes or socks on his feet.

Two other residents,  Therens Vitanzan and Larry Anderson also escaped.  All three received financial assistance from the Red Cross, to help them with their immediate needs; a safe place to stay, a warm meal, and for one of the residents, shoes.

“That’s why we go,” said Disaster Program Manager Jeremy Bayer of the Greater Cleveland Chapter. “People who just lost their home, all their possessions, they need our help and the hope we can give them during their darkest hour.”

In addition to financial aid, the suddenly homeless residents received a small plastic bag filled with personal items like a toothbrush, toothpaste and soap.

Mr. Vitanzan, who was wrapped in a blanket, sat quietly in a van that doubles as an intake office at disaster locations, while Walter Reddick, a Red Cross volunteer, offered what comfort he could.  Walter also helped Mr. Anderson, who was grateful to escape from his burning home with his prized possession: his guitar.

Photo credit: Jim McIntyre/American Red Cross

In the coming days, all three residents will receive follow-up care from Red Cross case workers, who will help them develop a plan for recovery from the fire that forced them from their homes.

They were fortunate to escape without suffering serious injuries.Fire experts agree that people may have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home before it’s too late to get out. Seven times a day, someone in this country dies in a home fire.

Incidents like this highlight the importance of having working smoke alarms in every residence in Northeast Ohio, and the Red Cross is ready, willing and able to install free smoke alarms and provide valuable fire safety information to residents in their homes. Northeast Ohio residents can visit the Operation Save-A-Life website to contact their local Red Cross chapter and schedule an appointment for a free home safety inspection, free smoke alarms and free installation.

It’s our goal to reduce the number of deaths and injuries due to home fires by 25% over a five-year period.  Last year,  the Red Cross and its partners saved at least 102 lives as part of its nationwide Home Fire Campaign, and in Northeast Ohio, 12 lives were saved and more than 12,500 free smoke alarms were installed in homes throughout the Region.

 

Smoke Alarms Save Lorain Family, Including Several Children

Photo credit: Jim McIntyre/American Red Cross

Operation Save-A-Life Lives Up To Its Name x 12

10 young children and two adults escaped a home fire in Lorain, Ohio on December 26, 2015, fleeing from the home on West 17th Street after family members heard the shrill sound of smoke alarms.

The alarms had been installed just two-weeks earlier by Red Cross volunteers and members of the Lorain Fire Department during a Fire Safety Walk.  Residents in the targeted neighborhood were offered valuable fire safety information along with free smoke alarms.  It’s part of the Red Cross initiative to reduce the number of deaths from home fires by 25%.

The smoke alarms in the W. 17th Street home sounded close to 11:00 PM.  Although most of the children were still awake, no one noticed the smoke coming from the heating ducts until they heard the alarms.  Nicole King, mother of the children, credited the alarms for alerting her family, and recalled the discussion about having an escape plan.  So did nine-year old Nigeria, who helped get his younger siblings out of the house and away from the danger, remembering to “get low and go.”   Nicole’s mother was also able to escape unharmed.

Once all family members were accounted for outside the house, Nicole called 9-1-1, and firefighters were able to quickly extinguish the fire, which had started in the basement furnace.  While damage to the home was minimal, the furnace was out of commission, and the Red Cross Disaster Team responded by providing the family with funding to pay for hotel rooms.

The 12 lives saved in Lorain are among the 69 lives credited to the Red Cross national Home Fire Campaign, launched in 2014 and modeled after Operation Save-A-Life, an initiative between the Greater Cleveland Chapter of the Red Cross and the city of Cleveland Division of Fire.  Since its inception in 1992, more than 160,000 smoke alarms have been installed in homes in the city of Cleveland.

The 2 smoke alarms installed in the home on West 17th Street in Lorain last December are among more than 8,400 alarms that have been installed by the Red Cross and its community partners in the Northeast Ohio Region since July 1st, 2015.

There were no working smoke alarms in the home prior to that.

If you would like a home fire safety inspection, valuable fire safety information and free smoke alarms installed in your home, visit the Northeast Ohio Region Operation Save-A-Life website, and find the link to your county.  Or click here for more information on how to volunteer, to help make your community safer.