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.

 

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.

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.

March is Red Cross Month: Highlighting the impact of the Red Cross in Northeast Ohio and beyond

February 28, 2019—March is Red Cross Month, and the American Red Cross asks everyone to be a hero in their community by becoming a volunteer, learning lifesaving skills, giving blood or donating to #help1family on Red Cross Giving Day, March 27.

The need to help people is constant—and the past year of busy disaster activity was no exception. For 324 consecutive days, more than 43,000 people relied on the Red Cross for emergency shelter following events like record wildfires, hurricanes, floods and large apartment fires. From April 2018 to February 2019, more than 11,500 Red Cross volunteers left the comfort of their own homes to provide comfort, care and a safe place to sleep for tens of thousands affected by disasters.

Disatser Stats- FBDuring that period of devastating disaster, the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio had 150 disaster volunteers deployed across the country, assisting residents in need and helping spread the Red Cross story, including Doug Bardwell, who was deployed for the first time and was sent to the Camp Fire disaster in California as a public affairs volunteer.

“During Red Cross Month, we honor the volunteer heroes who help families overcome life’s emergencies every day,” said Gail McGovern, president and CEO of the American Red Cross. “These champions are our neighbors—ordinary people who make an extraordinary difference to ease the suffering of others, whether it’s saving a person’s life with CPR, donating blood for a hospital patient with life-threatening conditions, or comforting a family overwhelmed by a home fire or other crisis. We ask you to consider joining these heroes to answer the call for service in your community.”

WHAT IS RED CROSS MONTH More than 75 years ago, March was first proclaimed Red Cross Month in 1943 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to raise awareness of the organization and its humanitarian mission. All U.S. presidents since Roosevelt have designated March as Red Cross Month to recognize how the American Red Cross helps people across the country and around the world through its workforce powered by more than 90 percent volunteers.

EVERY EIGHT MINUTES, SOMEONE NEEDS HELP The Red Cross responds to more than 62,000 disasters a year, most of which are home fires. In January alone, Red Cross volunteers helped about 24,000 people affected by more than 5,700 home fires across every state.

Disasters can cause other critical needs too. This winter, thousands of blood donations have gone uncollected due to snow storms and extreme cold—underscoring the constant need for eligible individuals to donate blood.

‘VOLUNTEERING WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE’ Joe Apicelli is among the nearly 372,000 individuals who volunteer with the American Red Cross. Following a massive hurricane more than a decade ago, he was inspired to respond with his local chapter upon seeing heartbreaking images of the storm’s aftermath. Ever since, Apicelli has helped people affected by disasters, including last year’s record wildfires in California and Hurricanes Florence and Michael.207701-05-Giving-Day-2019-Social-Media-1200x1200-FB2

“Volunteering will change your life. It will give you an opportunity to work with people from all over the country and change up your lifestyle,” Apicelli said. “If you want to reach out and help others, volunteer and see the difference it can make in your life. I am honored every time I get to work with my fellow Red Crossers. These are people who have given up their vacation and free time to help others.”

HOW YOU CAN #HELP1FAMILY Learn more about how you can help in your area by contacting your local Red Cross chapter or visiting redcross.org/neo:

  • Become a volunteer: Help families affected by disasters and install lifesaving smoke alarms to keep neighbors safe from home fires. In some areas, you can also provide emergency assistance for military members and veterans, or help reconnect families separated by international conflict.
  • Give blood: Make an appointment to donate lifesaving blood or platelets.
  • Learn lifesaving skills: Register for a class to learn first aid, CPR and other skills.
  • Make a financial donation: On March 27—American Red Cross Giving Day—donate at redcross.org/givingdayuniting with thousands of people like you to help families during the first devastating hours of a disaster. Your gift can provide hope and urgent relief like food, shelter and other essentials for families who need it most.

Below is a video explaining the Red Cross’ history and how your support this March impacts your local community here in Northeast Ohio.

 

Volunteer information sessions highlight rewarding opportunities that might be right for you

By Samantha Pudelski, American Red Cross volunteer

February 20, 2019- When you think of the American Red Cross, what is the first thing you think of? Blood drives may immediately come to mind, or our services to provide relief to those affected by disaster. You may recall the CPR or First Aid training you completed a few years ago.

Have you ever thought about volunteering for the Red Cross?

Hurricane Florence 2018

What you may not know is that there are many different opportunities available to volunteer for the Red Cross. There are volunteers who share their time and talents in the areas of finance, IT, customer service, administrative work, communications and more. Whether you have a particular skill or just want to help a good cause, there are plenty of options available for people in Northeast Ohio to volunteer.

Here are just a few of the opportunities currently available for the Northeast Ohio Region of the Red Cross:

Transportation Specialist (Cuyahoga and Summit Counties only)

  • Duties: Support the collection efforts of the Northern Ohio Blood Services Region by Volunteer Courierstransporting blood and blood products from blood collection sites to the laboratory for processing via mid-blood drive pickups.
  • Commitment: Drive two to four routes a month

Blood Drive Volunteer (Donor Ambassador)

  • Duties: Welcome and greet donors, escort as necessary and assist with initial intake of the blood donation process. Ensure blood donors have relevant information and that questions are answered appropriately. In addition, attend to donors in the hospitality area, ensure each donor is recognized for his/her contribution and set up and maintain reception and hospitality areas.
  • Commitment: one shift (four to six hours) a month

Disaster Response (Disaster Action Team Member)

  • Duties: Serve in an on-call capacity to assist those affected by disasters by providing timely, quality and compassionate service.
  • Commitment: 24 hours on call (Four six-hour shifts or two 12-hour shifts)

More than 90 percent of the Red Cross workforce consists of volunteers.

kelly fraser and hunter hamillVolunteers help make the vital work of the Red Cross possible. Check out www.redcross.org/volunteer to learn more about becoming a volunteer and to apply today!

You can attend an upcoming volunteer information session in Cleveland or Akron to hear about volunteer opportunities and to ask any questions you may have in a face-to-face setting. The sessions will be held on the following dates and times:

  • March 6, 5:30 – 6:30 p.m, Regional Headquarters, 3747 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44115
  • March 9, 10 – 11 a.m., Regional Headquarters in Cleveland (see address above)
  • March 13, 5:30 – 6:30 p.m., Summit, Portage and Medina Counties Chapter Headquarters, 501 West Market Street, Akron, Ohio 44303
  • March 16, 10 – 11 a.m., Summit, Portage and Medina Counties Chapter Headquarters (see address above)

Register to attend a volunteer information  session by contacting Melanie Collins at melanie.collins4@redcross.org or 330-204-6615.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer.

Emergency need: Donors urged to give blood and platelets now

January 16, 2019 – A donation shortfall over the winter holidays is prompting the American Red Cross to issue an emergency call for blood and platelet donors to give now Blood Drive, Fairfax, Virginia 2018to prevent a blood shortage from continuing throughout winter and affecting patient care. The Red Cross collected more than 27,000 fewer blood and platelet donations the weeks of Christmas and New Year’s than needed to sustain a sufficient blood supply, as busy holiday schedules kept many donors away.

Right now, the Red Cross has less than a three-day supply of most blood types, and blood products are being distributed to hospitals faster than donations are coming in.

You can help!

  1. Make an appointment to give blood or platelets by downloading the free Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
  2. Let your friends and family know there is an emergency need for blood and platelet donors and ask them to #GiveNow.
  3. Bring someone to donate with you.
  4. Host a blood drive so others can give – be it at your office location, place of worship or community organization.

Your support can help ensure that blood products are there for trauma victims, premature babies, patients going through cancer treatment and others who depend on transfusions for survival.

The hospitals that rely on blood and blood products collected by the Red Cross regularly hold blood drives of their own. One such hospital is the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center. Blood Donation 2018

From the days of Clara Barton and our founding, the Red Cross has had a strong relationship with members of the military, veterans and their families.  Every day, the Red Cross’ Service to the Armed Forces provides 24/7 global emergency communication services and support in military and veteran health care facilities across the country and around the world. Furthermore, Susan Fuehrer, director of the Northeast Ohio VA healthcare system, also serves on the Red Cross’ Greater Cleveland board of directors.

On February 1 from 7 AM to 5 PM, the Cleveland VA Medical Center will be hosting a blood drive, which is open to the public.

Are you unable to donate on February 1st, but have space on your calendar on February 12th to give life? Well, you are in luck!  Landerhaven in Mayfield Heights will be hosting its annual blood drive, which is the largest in the region. The blood drive will be held on Tuesday, February 12th at 6111 Landerhaven Drive from 7 AM-7 PM.

Every day, volunteer blood and platelet donors across the country are needed to help save lives. Don’t wait to help. Give now.

Annual toy giveaway makes season brighter for families

By Brad Galvin and edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteers.

The annual TravelCenters of America Toy Giveaway event is Renee Palagyi’s favorite day of the year. Watching children with parents excitedly selecting toys and stuffed animals and enjoying hot cocoa, the Senior Disaster Program Manager of the American Red Cross Northeast Ohio Region said, “This is a very important light at the end of a really challenging year for a lot of these recipients.”

IMG_5887In its 20th year, the Annual Toy Giveaway is an event where 200 children were invited to enjoy festive cheer and take home new toys and goodies. The event aims to make the holidays a little more cheerful for community members who have been the victims of various disasters.

Employees of TravelCenters of America, headquartered in Westlake, began the tradition of collecting toys for children 20 years ago. This year, members of Local 93 of the Cleveland Firefighters Union also contributed toys, as did many Red Cross employees.

On October 27, Wyonna Nash’s home was engulfed in a home fire. She and her children made it out safely but the past few months have been challenging. As she was helping her child choose a toy, she said, “We are grateful to the Red Cross. We are happy to be here. Without them, we don’t know where we would be.”

“Children need toys. This is Christmastime,” said Tom Liutkus, Senior Vice President of Marketing for TravelCenters of America. “We want them to have a memorable Christmas in what was otherwise a tragedy that may have occurred in their lives.” IMG_5894

Tom said that over the past 20 years, employees of TravelCenters of America have donated more than 5,500 toys for the annual giveaway.

The event was also attended by many volunteers who responded to disasters throughout the year. It’s a rewarding experience, since the last time the volunteers saw many of the recipients, they were dealing with one of the worst days of their lives; often, as firefighters were trying to salvage what was left of homes and apartment buildings.

IMG_5900Ellen Braun, a volunteer who has assisted with the toy drive over the last few years explained, “It’s all about giving back. The holidays are about kids and family. I just wish I could help more!”

Between the hugs, toys and messages of hope, the event was a wonderfully festive occasion that helped make the holidays a little brighter for families who have had a devastating 2018.  Watch a video of the event here.

You may also view more photos of the toy giveaway by visiting our Flickr page here.

If you’d like to help families who experience home fires and other disasters, you can donate to Disaster Relief, or become a Red Cross disaster services volunteer.  Visit redcross.org.neo for more information.