Volunteer nurses contribute mightily to Red Cross disaster response

They help people affected by disaster in numerous ways

Laverne Nerlich got the call Saturday morning, July 27.

Recently retired, and an empty nester, Laverne decided to offer her skills and experience as a disaster nurse to the American Red Cross as a volunteer.  She received training and was assigned to be on-call.

Fire in an apartment building in Parma Heights had forced dozens of residents to flee their homes the night before.  Her services as a disaster health worker were needed to help the people who had been displaced.

It was her first day on the job.

 

Laverne Nerlich and Rosanne Radziewicz console residents of the Camelot Aparrtments

Laverne and her fellow disaster health worker, Rosanne Radziewicz, approached dozens of people who were filing into the nearby Greenbrier Middle School building,  where the Red Cross had set-up shop.  Disaster workers were offering financial assistance to folks who were suddenly homeless.  Laverne and Rosanne were offering to help refill prescription medications that were left behind when the fire alarms sounded.  They were also helping residents replace eyeglasses, oxygen concentrators, and other durable medical equipment.  But perhaps most importantly, they were offering a sympathetic ear and, in some cases, a shoulder to cry on.

 

Camelot Apartments resident Paula Krych was one of many people assisted by the Red Cross the day after fire chased her from her home

“Being forced to leave your home because the building is on fire is a very traumatic experience,” said Tim O’Toole, Regional Disaster Officer for the Red Cross.  “People need help with some very basic necessities that we often take for granted.  That’s why our disaster health workers are so vital to a response of this magnitude.”

It’s wonderful to be part of a hands-on organization that does so much for people when they need it,” said Rosanne.  “I wanted to be able to give help to people after I retired.”

The Red Cross can only provide help to people when they need it when volunteers like Rosanne and Laverne offer their time and talent.  To learn more about the many ways you can be a part of the world’s largest humanitarian organization, visit RedCross.org/volunteer, or call 216-431-3328.

As of Thursday, August 1, 90 residents of the Camelot Apartments on Huffman Road had received Red Cross assistance.

 

 

Meet me at the corner! Plan for your family’s safety

By Beth Bracale, American Red Cross volunteer

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Beth Bracale

If I close my eyes, I can still see the flames shooting out from the windows of the house across the street. I can hear the agonized screams that drew us to our own windows that night to see what had happened. I was five years old, and that was my first experience of sheer terror – both someone else’s and my own.

Believe it or not, no one got hurt that night. Both of the senior sisters who shared the home had escaped the fire, one out the front door, one out the back. Their screams were the agony of each believing the other to still be trapped in the inferno. When neighbors reunited them, they fell sobbing into each other’s arms.

No one is ever fully prepared for disaster, but families can plan together to minimize the suffering. What if the sisters had had a plan? Would that night have gone differently had they designated a meeting spot in case they got separated in an emergency?

As foster parents, it’s required that we have a clear escape plan in case of disaster, one that everyone in the family can understand and remember. Even young children can learn what to do. All the students in the school where I taught, ages four through 14, practiced how to exit the school if there was a fire, how to exit a bus in an emergency, and what to do if a tornado was headed toward our neighborhood.

So I wasn’t prepared for the day my class of four-year-olds sat on the story carpet, listening to my assistant talk about emergencies. They raised their hands eagerly to share what they knew about fire drills. Stay in line. Walk, don’t run. Remain silent. Wait in our class’ spot on the corner until we got the “all clear” to return to our room. They had it all right.

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Photo credit: Eilene Guy, American Red Cross volunteer

“But what if an emergency happened at home?” my assistant asked.

“If a bad man comes in the house, you hide in the closet,” one child announced. Others nodded in agreement.

“What if a tornado is coming?” she asked.

“You run outside,” another child responded. More nods. I made a mental note to teach about tornado safety in the near future.

“What if you smelled smoke in your house or saw that something was on fire?” she quizzed.

“You call 911,” a student said confidently. “Yes, but what do you do before that?” she asked.

“Hide in the closet,” he said. The other children agreed.

Hide in the closet. Images of that house fire from years ago leaped into my head. And I imagined children inside, hiding in the closet.

We did a lot of learning and practicing that day. We sent the students home with information for their parents to use in creating family safety plans.

You can find information about keeping children safe on the American Red Cross website at https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/fire/fire-safety-for-kids.html.

Don’t put it off. Create your own plan today!

Trumbull County woman honored for saving a life with CPR

Anna Forrester has mixed feelings about being honored with the American Red Cross Lifesaving Award.  It’s one of the highest awards given to someone who saves a life by using skills obtained in a Red Cross class.

Anna saved a man by performing CPR.

Here’s how it all unfolded back on December 20, 2018:

Anna works for Gateways to Better Living, a non-profit agency serving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  She was in the home of a client when he became unresponsive.  After determining the man was no longer breathing and did not have a pulse, she called 9-1-1 and began chest compressions.  He began to respond shortly before EMS arrived.

The citation issued by the Red Cross states, “Without a doubt, the skills learned in the American Red Cross Training Services course helped to save the life of this gentleman.”  Anna also received a certificate, signed by Red Cross President and CEO Gail McGovern and Chairman Bonnie McElveen-Hunter.

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The award was presented to Anna in front of family and friends by the Trumbull County Commissioners.  And here’s where the mixed feelings come in.  While Anna says she’s happy the man is alive, she’s shocked at the attention she has received.

 

“He’s alive because of you,” said Elizabeth Merritt, the instructor who taught Anna lifesaving CPR skills. “That is extremely special.  He can put his socks on because of you!”

Anyone can learn how to use first aid and CPR, and how to use an AED by taking a Red Cross Training Services class. Visit redcross.org/take-a-class to find a class near you.

 

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.

On the wrong side of the hospital room – a nurse becomes the patient

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

Kristin Palocko  had been engaged for a year and was looking forward to her first wedding dress fitting in 2017. Working the night shift as a critical care nurse, she was often tired, but suddenly she was more fatigued than normal.

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“That night, a doctor came into my room at the emergency department and told me that I have a bleeding disorder called thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP),” recalled Kristin.

With TTP, blood clots form in small blood vessels throughout the body. The clots can limit or prevent the oxygen-rich blood from reaching the various organs that need it.

The condition is extremely rare, affecting maybe only two people in a million. “We barely touched on it in nursing school…it’s that rare. Luckily, with so many great hospitals in our area, it’s no longer fatal.”

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Prior to the 1980s, the disease was 97 percent fatal. Now with early detection and with plasma exchange, it’s considered very treatable. Treatment can last days or even months.

“This started me on a roller coaster of a 12-day hospital stay, a central dialysis line in my neck, and multiple units of red blood cells and plasma.” Kristin received 330 units of plasma, taking four hours each for 10 of those 12 days.

“It was an eye-opening experience being on the receiving end of treatment and being on the other side of the monitors. As a nurse, I realize the value of each unit of blood. It’s like liquid gold for our patients.”

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With three months medical leave, routine doctor’s appointments, countless blood draws and continual prayers, Kristin’s condition is still stable today. TTP could come back at any time, but some people have gone 17 years without a relapse.

“Less than six months after diagnosis, I married my best friend, Brad. Ever since I’ve been diagnosed, he’s been a frequent blood donor.”

“Two years later, I am feeling blessed for everyone’s thoughts and prayers through it all—especially the blood donors. They have helped me, and numerous others, in our time of greatest need with their generous donations. Without those willing to give of their time (and blood) there would not be treatment for TTP.”

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Kristin goes to Cuyahoga Valley Church and recently saw the sign there that volunteers were needed for an upcoming American Red Cross blood drive.

“After all that plasma I used during my treatment, I felt guilty, and I realized I needed to do something to give back. So, between shifts I went to the church during the blood drive and I volunteered.”

If you’d like to volunteer at a blood drive, we would love to have you. Volunteers are invaluable to the daily operation of the Northeast Ohio Region of the American Red Cross and are truly the heart and soul of the organization. Click here to register as a volunteer or sign up here to become a donor.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

How to beat the heat

Tips for preparing for – and staying safe during – a heat wave

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Beaches will no doubt be busy places this weekend, as temperatures in Northeast Ohio are expected to soar into the 90s (don’t forget the sunscreen!)

Here are some tips for preparing for extended periods of excessive heat:

  • Listen to local weather forecasts and stay aware of upcoming temperature changes.
  • Be aware of both the temperature and the heat index. The heat index is the temperature the body feels when the effects of heat and humidity are combined.
  • Discuss heat safety precautions with members of your household. Have a plan for wherever you spend time— home, work and school—and prepare for power outages.
  • Know those in your neighborhood who are elderly, young, sick or overweight. They are more likely to become victims of excessive heat and may need help.
  • If you do not have air conditioning, choose places you could go to for relief from the heat during the warmest part of the day (schools, libraries, theaters, malls).
  • Be aware that people living in urban areas may be at greater risk from the effects of a prolonged heat wave than are people living in rural areas.
  • Get trained in First Aid to learn how to treat heat-related emergencies.
  • Ensure that your animals’ needs for water and shade are met.

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During a heat wave, we encourage you and your family to:

  • Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio for critical updates from the National Weather Service (NWS).
  • Never leave children or pets alone in enclosed vehicles.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.
  • Eat small meals and eat more often.
  • Avoid extreme temperature changes.
  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays.
  • Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.
  • Postpone outdoor games and activities.
  • Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat.
  • Take frequent breaks if you must work outdoors.
  • Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.
  • Check on your animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat.

More helpful information, including how to treat heat-related illnesses and preparing for power outages can be found here.

And if you find relief from the heat at a beach, whether it be at Atwood Lake, Pymatuning State Park, or along the shores of Lake Erie, be sure to observe the rules of water safety.

And have fun!