Reflections of a former board member

By Sue Wilson, American Red Cross volunteer

June 16, 2019- Last week I attended the annual meeting of the board of directors for the Summit, Portage and Medina Counties Chapter of the American Red Cross. But it was more than

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L to R: Summit, Portage and Medina Counties Chapter Executive Director Rachel Telegdy, Sue Wilson and Pam Williams

just the final meeting before the summer break. Amidst the business of thanking outgoing board members like me and recognizing new board members to take the place of those exiting, it was time to thank the volunteers—without whom the Red Cross could not accomplish its mission.

I am always moved—amazed but never surprised—to hear the stories of the heroes that make up the many volunteers who are the first responders. Those who show up and stand alongside to help people who have truly experienced the worst day of their life.

The volunteers who have:

  • installed 2,000 free smoke alarms. making 700 homes that didn’t have them safer, as part of the Sound the Alarm campaign.
  • responded to more than 120 home fires, providing residents in our three counties with help and hope.
  • deployed to the Greater Dayton area to help those affected by the recent deadly and destructive tornadoes—running toward disaster while most are running away.
  • given blood and/or found ways to encourage blood donation, especially as part of the Missing Types campaign, which strives to increase the nation’s blood supply by bringing attention to the more rare, missing types of blood, A, B and O, potentially saving more than 75,000 lives.

The thing that hit me most, however, after I received my certificate of appreciation for nine years of board service, was how little I felt I had done compared to these heroic volunteers. And how inspired I feel to continue on, if not as a board member, as a volunteer for this incredible organization so that I can help to continue its legacy of service. I can’t help but feel especially inspired to “be like Pam.”

Pam Williams received the H. Peter Burg award last year for her lifetime of service to our community and the Red Cross. She also steps down as board chair, passing the gavel to Alan Papa, president and chief operating officer for Cleveland Clinic Akron General. Pam truly is a dedicated volunteer. This small space cannot list her many acts of selflessness:  from sleeping in shelters alongside victims of disasters, to driving a forklift, to serving as our government liaison before and while she was our board chair.

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New board of directors chair Alan Papa speaks at the Summit, Portage and Medina Counties Chapter annual meeting

Last week may have been the end of my three-term, nine-year stint as a member of the Red Cross board of directors. But it was the first day of my continuation of a commitment to be a better volunteer for this amazing organization so that I can not only be more like Pam but also like the many volunteers who make up the Red Cross family.

Click here to visit our Flickr account to view photos from the Summit, Portage and Medina Counties Chapter annual meeting.

N_tice _nything missing? Help the Red Cross fill the Missing Types

By Christy Peters, External Communications Manager, Northern Ohio Blood Region

June 13, 2019- When the letters A, B and O vanish from everyday life, the gaps are striking. And when A, B, O and AB blood types are missing from hospital shelves, lives could be changed forever.

MT 2019_InfographicOn June 11 the American Red Cross partnered with the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame to launch the Missing Types campaign to raise awareness of the need for new and current blood donors to donate and help ensure blood is available for patients in need this summer. The O’s in Long Live Rock disappeared during the launch, to illustrate the critical role every blood donor plays in ensuring the main blood groups – A, B and O, are available whenever and wherever needed.

A sad truth is only 3 out of 100 Americans donate blood each year, but every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood. If more people roll up a sleeve to give, blood shortages can be prevented.

Why blood donors are needed

Tymia McCullough relies on blood donations to help battle sickle cell disease, an inherited disease that causes red blood cells to form in an abnormal crescent shape. Sickle cell disease patients can suffer a range of conditions, including acute anemia, tissue and organ damage, terrible pain and even strokes.

With no widely used cure, regular blood transfusions are one of the most common treatments for sickle cell disease. At one time, when McCullough arrived at the hospital, the blood type she needed for her transfusion was not available.

“It was the scariest, most frightening moment of a mother’s life, because I thought that she would not be able to get it,” said Susie Pitts, Tymia’s mother. “In that moment, in that experience, I was very afraid. I was scared for my daughter’s life ─ what was going to happen if she didn’t get the blood she needed?”

Eight hours later, the nurse came running through the door with the needed blood product.

Again, this past fall Tymia experienced a painful sickle cell crisis and needed to wait 10 long hours for the hospital to locate the blood she needed for her treatment. Thankfully, Tymia is better today, yet her experience illustrates the ongoing need for blood, and at times, the frightening reality patients face when needed blood supplies become critically low.

Make a difference today

  • Spread the word
  • Write out your name with the A’s, B’s and O’s missing on the “blank” selfie sign, and take a photo with it. (Underscores are recommended. Example: _meric_n Red Cr_ss. Basic directions are also posted at the previous link for your convenience.)
  • Visit RedCrossBlood.org to share a Missing Types message on your social media.

Commit about an hour of your day to give blood and help save a life. Patients need you.

Six things to know before donating:

  1. You don’t need to know your blood type.
    According to a national survey conducted earlier this year on behalf of the Red Cross, more than half (54%) of people believe they need to know their blood type to donate blood. This is simply untrue.
  2. Hydrate – drink an extra 16 oz. of liquid before and after donating.
  3. Enjoy a healthy meal rich in iron and vitamin C before donating – avoid foods high in fat just prior to donation.
  4. Wear comfortable clothing with sleeves that can be raised above the elbow.
  5. Complete a RapidPass on the day of donation, prior to arriving, to save time.
  6. Remember to bring an ID.

Help fill in the missing types this summer. Schedule a donation appointment now.

Click here to visit out Flickr account to view photos from the Missing Type kick-off event at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Our thanks to Joann Fabric and Craft Stores for providing the material used to cover the letter “O” in the Long Live Rock sculpture.

This article was edited by Glenda Bogar,  American Red Cross volunteer

National CPR and AED Awareness Week highlights training importance

By Eric Alves, Regional Communications Specialist, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio

June 5, 2019- Today, people are used to seeing online news articles mentioning the tongue-and-cheek national holiday being celebrated that day, like National Cheese Pizza Day on September 7, National Old Stuff Day on March 2 or National Lipstick Day on July 29. Usually when we learn about these random celebrations, we often roll our eyes or chuckle and move on, but we often can miss when a day or week of true importance is upon us.

This week, the United States is celebrating National CPR and AED Awareness Week. In 2007, understanding the importance of proper CPR and Automated External Defibrillator (AED) training and usage to save the lives of Americans, Congress unanimously passed a resolution making June 1-7 a yearly week of awareness.

Lifeguarding Manual 2012

The American Red Cross offers many opportunities to gain training in these valuable lifesaving skills. Visit www.redcross.org/take-a-class to find in-person, online and simulated classes near you.

If you opt for in-person training, you will have the opportunity to practice your new skills on the BigRed™ LightSaving Manikin. The state of the art manikin will increase a student’s confidence that they can save a life in emergency situations, as it is equipped with three interrelated sets of lights that provide immediate feedback to students on how they are performing CPR. Only the proper technique will show the success of blood circulating from the heart to the brain which improves a sudden cardiac arrest victim’s chance of survival.

CPR Classroom Stock Video and Photography Shoot 2018

Sharon Nicastro of Independence, Ohio is an individual who is familiar with Red Cross training and the importance of every person being prepared to help save a life.

Sharon has been a Red Cross CPR and first aid instructor in Northeast Ohio for 28 years. In fact, her role as a Red Cross instructor and seeing firsthand the impact it has on saving lives, led her to becoming an EMT.

For those who want to be CPR and AED trained but are on the fence because they are concerned it will have no impact on saving a life, Sharon has a few words of encouragement.

“It is important for people to learn CPR because bystanders can recognize that someone is suffering a cardiac emergency, call 9-1-1, perform CPR, and use an AED in the minutes before EMS arrives,” stated Sharon. “The care provided in those few minutes is just as critical as the care provided by EMS and hospital personnel. Those few minutes can mean the difference between life and death.”

Sharon

Sharon Nicastro

Jan and John Durkalski’s story highlights Sharon’s point.

Jan and John were on a run together when John suffered a sudden cardiac arrest and collapsed. Jan used her recent CPR training to help save her husband’s life.

Watch the below video to learn more about the Durkalski’s story and the importance of CPR/AED training:

You can download the free Red Cross First Aid App which puts instant access to information on handling the most common first aid emergencies, including sudden cardiac arrest, at your fingertips. Download by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in your app store or at redcross.org/apps.

Join the Red Cross in celebrating National CPR and AED Awareness Week by signing up for a training class today!

From Northeast to Southwest: American Red Cross is Ohio-strong

NEO volunteers assisting residents affected by downstate tornadoes

More help from Northeast Ohio is on the way to tornado stricken Dayton and the surrounding area.  An Emergency Response Vehicle, which is stationed in Cleveland, will be deployed with a two-person crew to help provide meals and emergency supplies to residents affected by Monday night’s storms.

More than 130 Ohioans spent the night in 6 shelters last night.  They were among nearly 500 people who took refuge in more than 30 Red Cross and Community shelters in several states that have been hit hard by bad weather this week.

Red Cross volunteers Pam Williams and Monica Bunner working in Dayton

In addition to the ERV and its crew, six other disaster workers from Northeast Ohio are assigned to the relief operation, and are already in Dayton, fulfilling various roles – from mass care to government operations to reunification.

“Basically we help families reunite,” said Monica Bunner, a disaster volunteer from Medina. “Say someone is missing as a result of the disaster and could be in a shelter. The Safe & Well site allows one to register and send messages to loved ones to let them know they are OK.”

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                                           Photo credit:  Todd James/American Red Cross

Prepare in Advance

More spring storms are in the forecast this week for a vast swath of the country.  You can prepare for violent weather in the following ways:

Educate your family on how to use the Safe and Well website.

Assemble an emergency preparedness kit, which includes a battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio). For a detailed list of supplies to include, see updated Be Red Cross Ready Checklist.

Create a household emergency plan that includes your pets.

Stay informed about your community’s risk and response plans.

Download the Emergency App for iPhone or for Android.

Remember, if you or a member of your household is an individual with access or functional needs, including a disability, consider developing a comprehensive evacuation plan in advance with family, care providers and care attendants, as appropriate.

Complete a personal assessment of functional abilities and possible needs during and after an emergency or disaster situation, and create a personal support network to assist.

Many kind-hearted people have offered to help, driven by the compassion that is typical of Northeast Ohioans.  While the Red Cross does not accept donations of items, we do encourage financial support. It is the quickest and best way to get help to the people who need it most, by allowing us to be flexible in the help we deliver.  Financial donations can be accessed quickly, and can ensure that we can provide the residents affected by the tornadoes what they need most.

You can donate to American Red Cross disaster relief by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS, or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Memorial Day message from CEO Mike Parks

Members of the NEO Red Cross Family:

I wanted to share a few thoughts about the meaning of one of the most special times of the year.

Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday of May, honoring the men and women who died while serving their country in the Armed Forces (more than 1.265 million people have given their lives!). Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday, “Memorial Day,” in 1971.

Although Waterloo, New York is known as the birthplace of this holiday because of the community remembrance event it held in 1866, the first national commemoration was held at Arlington National Cemetery in 1868.  At that ceremony, former Union General and sitting Ohio Congressman James Garfield, gave a speech before 5,000 participants who then helped decorate more than 20,000 soldiers’ graves.

Memorial Day BlogGarfield inspired the crowd when he proclaimed, “We do not know one promise these men made, one pledge they gave, one word they spoke; but we do know they summed up and perfected, by one supreme act, the highest virtues of men and citizens. For love of country they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and their virtue.” I still find those sentiments spoken by a Northeast Ohioan inspiring more than 250 years later!

Memorial Day has become synonymous with the unofficial beginning of summer with parades and backyard barbeques, and for many, a three-day long weekend.  As appropriate and enjoyable as all those things are, my sincere hope is that as members of an organization that also traces our roots back to the Civil War, we will not forget the real meaning of this important day when we honor those that made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom we still enjoy each and every day.

The more of these special commemorative days I celebrate, the more I avoid wishing others a “Happy” Memorial Day—instead I like to encourage them to have an enjoyable weekend as they “honor” Memorial Day.  So as you take in a parade (don’t forget to stand and put your hand over your heart when the American Flag passes by as it’s carried by a marcher), enjoy a barbecue with friends, take in a ballgame, or take a family trip, I hope you each have an enjoyable weekend as you honor Memorial Day and remember those who gave their all so we could enjoy our weekends in peace and freedom!

Thank you for all you do as dedicated members of the world’s premier humanitarian organization!!

Enjoy and stay safe.

Best regards,

Mike Parks- Regional CEO and U. S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral (Retired)

Sound the Alarm was a ringing success

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

May 24, 2019- Sound the Alarm 2019 wrapped up in Northeast Ohio on May 12. With a total of 21 events over a two-week period, more than 1,500 homes were made safer by the installation of 3,743 smoke alarms.

After responding to dozens of fires as an American Red Cross Disaster Action Team member, it’s always sad to see a family lose all their possessions; but far more heart-wrenching is when a family member is hurt or a pet dies. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of a minute or two that makes the difference in who survives and who doesn’t. Sound the Alarm’s purpose is to make sure the number of home fire fatalities is significantly reduced each year.

First-hand experience

David Leatherwood, who still carries the scars of being in a home fire when he was younger, was appreciative when approached by volunteers in Lorain during the Sound the Alarm event. “It makes me feel so much better knowing that my whole house is now protected by smoke alarms,” said David. Volunteers from Ford Motor Lorain plant installed new alarms, replacing his old ones that were already more than 10 years old.

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Volunteers Stephanie Pinskey (L) and Dionna Seplight (C) discuss the importance of replacing smoke alarms every 10 years with homeowner David Leatherwood (R).

Stephanie Pinskey, one of the Ford volunteers commented, “I can’t believe the power of the Red Cross brand. Not one of the people we met today ever hesitated about letting us come in to install alarms in their homes. With all the mistrust of strangers these days, this was heartwarming to know people really trust Red Cross and their volunteers.”

By the numbers

Begun in 2014, the Home Fire Campaign can already count 582 lives nationally that have been saved, thanks to smoke alarms installed by Red Cross volunteers. In that time:

  • More than 709,000 households have been made safer
  • More than 1,700,000 smoke alarms have been installed
  • 1,300,000 youth have been educated through the campaign

Not just a two-week event

Installing smoke alarms for those who need them is a year-round activity for Red Cross. In Northeast Ohio, anyone who needs alarms installed can visit SoundTheAlarm.org/NEO and be placed on a list for free installations. Cleveland, where the smoke alarm program began, has been making homeowners safer since 1992, when businessman Sam Miller partnered with Red Cross and the Cleveland Fire Department to lower the number of fire fatalities each year. This year marked the milestone of the 200,000th alarm to be installed in Cleveland.

In addition, fire prevention safety education has helped make sure that people know that they only have two minutes to safely leave their home in case of fire and that their children need to know what to do in case an alarm sounds. Families are encouraged to plan two escape routes from each room and to practice their escape drills twice a year.

Even though this year’s Sound the Alarm has wrapped up, Red Cross still accepts donations for additional alarms to be purchased and installed throughout the year. To donate, visit redcross.org/donate or call 800-HELP NOW (800-435-7669).

Catch the excitement of this year’s events by viewing photos on our Flickr page.

See photos from our Cleveland-West Sound the Alarm event here.

See photos from our Youngstown Sound the Alarm event here.

See photos from our Sandusky Sound the Alarm event here.

See photos from our Ravenna sound the Alarm event here.

See photos from our Parma sound the Alarm event here.

See photos from our Sound the Alarm kick-off news conference here.

See photos from our Carrollton Sound the Alarm event here.

See photos from our Ashland Sound the Alarm event here.

See photos from our Mansfield Sound the Alarm event here.

See photos from our Slavic Village Sound the Alarm event here.

See photos from our Medina Sound the Alarm event here.

See photos from our Norwalk Sound the Alarm event here.

See photos from our Akron 5/7 Sound the Alarm event here.

See photos from our Akron 5/9 Sound the Alarm event here.

See photos from our Lorain Sound the Alarm event here.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer.

Photos provided by Cal Pusateri, Doug Bardwell, Eric Alves, Jim McIntyre and Karen Conklin – American Red Cross.

Help now: Type O blood shortage

By Christy Peters, External Communications Manager, Northern Ohio Blood Region

Spring is a busy time of year for many people, but the need for blood and platelets doesn’t let up. Last month, more than 11,500 fewer donations were collected than needed as spring break schedules and end of the school year activities contributed to a low turnout of blood donors. As a result, the American Red Cross has a critical shortage of type O blood and urges type O donors to give now to ensure blood is available for patients in need of lifesaving treatments or facing traumas.

Type O_Critical need

Right now, the Red Cross has less than a two-day supply of type O blood available for emergency rooms – where it can be most critical. Type O donations are being distributed to hospitals faster than they are coming in. Type O blood is the most needed blood group by hospitals but is often in short supply. Here in the Northern Ohio Blood Services Region, approximately 500 pints of blood are needed every day to help meet patient needs. The Region serves more than 50 hospitals who depend on the Red Cross for a strong, local blood supply.

Monroe Carell Jr Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, Nashville, Tennessee 2019

All eligible donors – especially type O donors – are urged to roll up a sleeve as soon as possible. In thanks for helping meet patient needs, those who come to donate blood or platelets with the Red Cross May 1-June 10 will receive a $5 Amazon.com Gift Card via email. (Restrictions apply, see amazon.com/gc-legal. Additional information and details are available at RedCrossBlood.org/Together.)

Don’t wait – help now!

  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). Donors can also give throughout northeast Ohio at the Red Cross donation centers in Parma, Akron and Cleveland.
  2. Let your friends and family know there is a type O #BloodShortage and ask them to give now.
  3. Bring someone to donate with you.

Blood Drive, Fairfax, Virginia 2018

Every day, volunteer blood and platelet donors across the country are needed to help save lives. Your support can help ensure that blood products are there for accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and those receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease.

Make an appointment to give now.