Snapshots: Moments from disaster response

By Tim Poe, American Red Cross volunteer

August 12, 2019- I have been a part of the American Red Cross’ Disaster Relief team for 18 months, which has been exceptionally challenging and rewarding. Here are a few of the many moments lingering in my memory:

Tim Poe

Tim Poe

I hand an information packet and financial assistance card to a woman in tears. I see astonishment followed by relief on her face as I explain what it is. She looks out the window, breathes deeply and begins planning her family’s recovery.

An enormous, isolated tree stands in a field. Near the top, a remnant of a house is embedded in twisted limbs. Other pieces of homes and people’s belongings lie scattered across the field as people work to clean up and recover.

Assisting a large number of clients after a major fire, people from the community come in throughout the day, bringing supplies, offering comfort, asking how they can donate, finding ways to help.

In an ER, a woman lifts her oxygen mask, says it’s her birthday, and asks for cake.

Interviewing a client as her grandson plays with a stuffed toy, I ask if she’s a veteran and the grandchild declares he is. “No you’re not, sweetheart,” she says. He answers, “I am too. I don’t even like meat.”

On Christmas Eve, standing on the porch of what remains of a house, helping a family plan their recovery, the mother makes a joke and laughter warms the winter air. I feel the mood lighten as they look to the future.

2019 Euclid fire responseAt a community event with the Emergency Response Vehicle, I let children use the public-address system. Some shyly say, “hi,” others say their names and a few words. One yells, “Pizza! Pizza! Pizza! … and ice cream!” Nearly all smile as their voices amplify.

Standing in the rain, clearing the scene of a very large fire, the family’s father grasps my hand, holds on, begins to say something, then simply nods.

Leaving a scene, a three-year-old child runs up and gives me a hug.

Volunteers like me  carry out 90 percent of the humanitarian work of the Red Cross. Whether helping displaced families or teaching others how to respond in emergencies, the time and talents of volunteers can make a real difference. Explore the Red Cross’ many volunteer opportunities here.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Red Cross volunteers provide Hall of Fame care during induction ceremonies

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

 August 8, 2019- Fans who enjoyed the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony events in Canton, Ohio, were treated to top-notch care and attention from the American Red Cross.

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It’s important to stay safe and hydrated while outside on hot summer days. That’s why Red Cross volunteers were present to give those enjoying the festivities a cold bottle of water and provide medical attention if needed.

Events began July 21 during the community parade. As crowds were enjoying the procession, volunteers from the Stark and Muskingum Lakes Chapter passed out cooling towels and water and provided medical attention at a first aid tent.

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Festivities continued Aug. 2 with two events. The first event was a fashion show luncheon, where 17 Red Cross volunteers were on hand. Later in the day, 18 volunteers staffed the enshrinement gold jacket dinner. At both events, the Red Cross volunteers where present in areas where food was served and worked with the hosts to spot anyone who needed medical attention.

The Hall of Fame enshrinement celebration came to an end Aug. 3 with two final events.

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The day began with the grand parade. As fans enjoyed local bands and floats, 26 Red Cross volunteers handed out water and cold towels to help beat the heat. The Red Cross also provided an inside cooling room and a first aid station at the Malone University Johnson Center.

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The day ended with a roundtable discussion luncheon featuring this year’s inductees. Inside the Canton Memorial Civic Center and Cultural Center, 17 Red Cross volunteers were present to spot and provide any necessary medical attention.

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If you’re interested in learning how you can volunteer for the Red Cross, visit redcross.org/volunteer or call 216-431-3328 to learn about all the different opportunities in your area.

To view photos from the grand parade, visit our Flickr page.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Photo credit: Tom Newman, American Red Cross volunteer

Lubrizol helps Sound the Alarm in Brooklyn

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

July 25, 2019- In Northeast Ohio, the American Red Cross  responds on average to three home fires every 24 hours. 

This week, the Red Cross of Greater Cleveland responded to a fire at the Cherry Tree Village apartment complex in Strongsville. The fire affected 24 apartments and more 60 individuals, including families and children, who received Red Cross assistance.

Prevention

Part of our mission is to help communities and residents prevent fires from occurring, and to reduce the number of serious injuries and deaths due to home fires.  On July 23, 2019, several employees from Wickliffe’s own Lubrizol Corporation volunteered to help install free smoke alarms and create escape plans, making homes safer and helping save lives.

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During the Brooklyn installation event, Lubrizol employees installed 185 smoke alarms and 75 homes safer.

Sound the Alarm home fire safety and smoke alarm installation events are part of the Home Fire Campaign, which the Red Cross launched in 2014 to reduce fire deaths and injuries. So far, it has reached more than 1.8 million people, saved more than 600 lives, and made more than 750,000 households nationwide safer.

Response

Just as disasters do not discriminate in terms of whose lives they destroy, the Red Cross does not discriminate in terms of whose lives we help rebuild. The Red Cross does not turn away people who need assistance after a disaster. We are committed to helping everyone in need.

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Lubrizol employees Josh Swift and Amber Smith help install a smoke alarm in a home in Brooklyn, Ohio

As the largest humanitarian organization in the world, the Red Cross has the ability to use your donation to reach more people in need, more quickly. Your donation to the Red Cross helps provide food, shelter, relief supplies, emotional support, recovery planning and other assistance during disasters.

To help the Red Cross provide hope and comfort to individuals in Northeast Ohio experiencing their darkest hours, please visit our Crowdrise page to provide a financial donation. Any amount donated truly helps with their recovery.

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Lubrizol employee Sarah Schlicher provides fire safety information to Ramona Ortiz of Brooklyn, Ohio

Volunteer

If you cannot assist financially but would like to help residents following a disaster, there is another way you may help. Without the tremendous dedication of our volunteers, the Red Cross would not be able to serve the 22 counties and 4.5 million residents of Northeast Ohio. Volunteers make up 90 percent of our workforce. Our volunteers are without a doubt the face of the Red Cross. Visit redcross.org/neo to learn more and to apply to become a Red Cross volunteer.

To see more photos from the Lubrizol Brooklyn installation event, please visit our Flickr page.

Northeast Ohio Region weekend disaster response report: July 19-21, 2019

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

July 22, 2019- While many Northeast Ohio residents were dodging the nearly 100 degree temperatures and the storms the heat brought through the region,  American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio Disaster Action Teams left the comfort of cool homes to assist residents in need.

During the weekend of July 19-21, the Red Cross responded to 10 incidents, assisted 84 individuals and provided more than $11,000 in immediate financial assistance.

One of the responses occurred in the Wooster area in Wayne County. Following flash flooding after heavy rain in Apple Creek and the surrounding areas, the Red Cross opened and helped operated a shelter at Grace Church, which received 8 overnight residents.

 

There was another significant response over the weekend in Trumbull County.  In Kinsman, a road was washed out, isolating residents in 25 homes and prompting a boat rescue. The Red Cross provided financial assistance to the affected residents, including 56 adults and 22 children.

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Without the tremendous dedication of our volunteers, the Red Cross would not be able to serve the 22 counties and 4.5 million residents of Northeast Ohio. Volunteers make up 90 percent of our workforce. Our volunteers are without a doubt the face of the Red Cross. Visit redcross.org/neo to learn more and to apply to become a Red Cross volunteer.

Northeast Ohio Region weekend disaster response report: July 4-7, 2019

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

July 8, 2019- As residents across Northeast Ohio were enjoying barbecues, fireworks, nice weather and the start of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game festivities, the American Red Cross was actively assisting individuals who were experiencing their most difficult moments.

During Independence Day weekend, July 4-7, the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio responded to 13 incidents, including a structural collapse in Lorain. The disaster team assisted 34 adults, 24 children and provided more than $13,000 in immediate financial assistance to help these individuals get back on their feet following the local disaster.

Another weekend incident the disaster team responded to over the holiday weekend, was a home fire resulting from arson on Dudley Avenue in Cleveland.

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Dudley Avenue home fire

“It has been a busy time with home fires recently in Northeast Ohio. We have responded to multiple fires in the last few weeks under suspicion of arson. This is one of the wonderful attributes of this organization. We are so inclusive that we provide assistance to anyone who is in need, despite how the disaster began,” said Ben Bellucci, the disaster program manager for the Greater Cleveland Chapter.

“This past weekend, the volunteers were beyond amazing,” Ben added. “With the average temperatures in the 90s and high humidity, the disaster action team was up at all hours providing light in many individuals’ darkest hours. We can’t do it without our volunteers, and the generosity of our community, who all make it possible.”

Just as disasters do not discriminate in terms of whose lives they destroy; the Red Cross does not discriminate in terms of whose lives we help rebuild. The Red Cross does not turn away people who need assistance after a disaster. We are committed to helping everyone in need.

As the largest humanitarian organization in the world, the Red Cross has the ability to use your donation to reach more people in need, more quickly. Your donation to the Red Cross helps provide food, shelter, relief supplies, emotional support, recovery planning and other assistance during disasters.

To help the Red Cross provide hope and comfort to individuals in Northeast Ohio experiencing their darkest hours, please visit our Crowdrise page to provide a financial donation. Any amount donated truly helps with their recovery.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

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.

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.

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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.

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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.”

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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!