Wife Performs CPR, Saves Husband’s Life

“You can’t leave me here.  I’m too young to be a widow. You can’t go,” Jan Durkalski pleaded.  Her husband John had just collapsed during a Sunday morning run and was struggling to breath.

Then, his breathing stopped.  So did his heart.

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John and Jan Durkalski

Jan and John were on a run together in the Cleveland Metroparks when John suffered sudden cardiac arrest and collapsed.  Jan had just renewed her cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification the day before, and the instructions were fresh in her mind when she began CPR on John.

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Jan and John Durkalski point to the spot where John collapsed during a run on January 22, 2017

“I never had to do live CPR before.  I just did it in class,” Jan explained.  “I walked away thinking ‘I’ll never have to do this.’ ”

Hear Jan and John tell the story in their own words by watching the video on our YouTube Channel.

It’s National CPR/AED Awareness Week and we are urging everyone to get trained on how to perform CPR and how to use an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) so they can help during an emergency situation.

Many people who suffer sudden cardiac arrest die before getting to a hospital so every second counts. For every minute without defibrillation, a sudden cardiac arrest victim’s chance of surviving drops. It is critical for as many people as possible to be trained to perform CPR and know how to use an AED until advanced help arrives.

Interested in getting trained? Find information on Red Cross classes here. Last year, nearly 50,000 people in Northeast Ohio enrolled in Red Cross first aid/CPR/AED classes.

“Sudden cardiac arrest claims the lives of thousands of people in this country every year,” said Mike Parks, Regional CEO. “National CPR/AED Awareness Week is the perfect time for people to get trained and help increase a sudden cardiac arrest victim’s chance of survival.”

John DurIMG_4382kalski not only survived, he is thriving.  He ran the 10K race at the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon in May, and plans to continue running. “40 years and one heart attack.  Why quit now?”

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.

 

From Volunteer Manager to Volunteer

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By Pat Buckhold, Regional Volunteer Officer

You say “good-bye” and I say “hello”.  There’s a song for everything, I’ve always said.

After more years of paid employment than I care to admit, I came to realize over the past few months that it is time to transition to the next phase of my life.  I have been preparing for this time- retirement- for many years.  So many things to do, such little time.  And now it’s here.

I have never been at a loss for interests and things to do in my spare time, especially now that my children are grown.  In retirement, I saw myself as volunteering more than I do now, but what and where?  How could I really make a difference in this world and become, pardon the philosophical bent, the best version of myself?

Enter, the American Red Cross.  Over the course of the past three years as a paid staff member in Volunteer Services, the Red Cross quickly changed from an organization that I really did not know much about to one that I hold in the highest regard.  It has truly been an honor for me to be part of the Red Cross and to spread the good word to prospective volunteers about the life-saving services provided.  Being a volunteer with the Red Cross is more than just “something to do”.  As a volunteer with the Red Cross, an individual can engage in altruistic and compassionate work in many areas- Disaster or Blood Services, Health and Safety, Services to the Armed Forces or at a Chapter.  And the beauty of it all is that we are a volunteer-driven organization!  How good does that get?

So if you are wondering, well, what is she going to do now, don’t think about it another second.  Besides settling into this new life, I have also decided to transition into a volunteer position or two with the Red Cross.  Well, where is she going to be, you ask?  That, my friends, you will find out about in future blogs.

So stay tuned.  The best is yet to come . . .

Click here to see photos from Pat’s send-off with members of the NEO Red Cross staff.

Memorial Day Remarks from CEO Mike Parks

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Mike Parks, Regional Chief Executive Officer and U. S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral (Retired) delivered the keynote address at the Memorial Day commemoration for the city of Pepper Pike.  In his remarks, Mike noted how Memorial Day and the Red Cross both have their roots in the Civil War, and that the Red Cross continues to provide Service to the Armed Forces. He also wrote the following message to Red Cross workers in the Northeast Ohio Region:

Members of the NEO Red Cross Family:    Memorial Day is such a special day when we pay homage to those brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice so that we might be able to enjoy the freedoms we do each and every day.    As many of you know, both Memorial Day and the Red Cross have their origins in the Civil War.  The first Memorial Day—then known as Decoration Day—was in 1866 when Civil War soldiers’ graves were adorned with flowers.  And of course, Clara Barton’s service providing aid and comfort to soldiers as a nurse during the Civil War inspired her to begin the American Red Cross. 

 Thank you all for all you do each and every day to help pay it forward and never taking our freedom for granted.  Just a reminder, the National Moment of Remembrance Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 2000 to “encourage people of the US to give something back to their country which provides them with so much freedom and opportunity.”  

I encourage all of us to join together on this Memorial Day at 3:00 p.m., wherever we may be, whatever we may be doing, to contemplate the cost of our freedoms…the freedom to speak our mind…to live where we’d like…to practice whatever religion we choose…to vote…to travel anywhere in this great…the freedom to be anything we choose to be…the freedom to dream…because we are all Americans and we can come together, to honor those who have given their all—so that we may be free! 

I’ll leave you with the inspiring words of singer Lee Greenwood…you know the tune:  “I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free.  And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me!” 

Have a great day & God Bless the USA!  Best regards…Mike

Blanket Made of Red Heart Yarn and Love

Linda Evans

15 months.  That’s how long it took Linda Evans of West Farmington, Ohio to #StitchAHug.  That’s the hashtag redheart.com established in 2016 to allow customers to support the Red Cross, by providing patterns for blankets.

“I was in the middle of a move,” Linda said. ” Otherwise, it probably wouldn’t have taken so long.”

The white spread with the traditional Red Cross knitted in the center arrived at Northeast Ohio headquarters in early May, accompanied by a short note that read, in part, “I hope whoever gets it will be okay!”

Red Cross workers often provide blankets to people who have been forced to flee their homes by fire, flood, or other disasters.  In Northeast Ohio, the Red Cross responds on average to three such disasters every 24-hours.

That’s a lot of blankets.

“I’m grateful I have never needed your help.  The Red Cross is exceptional in everything they do, and I don’t give back nearly enough, so this project sounded like a perfect match.”

Linda’s blanket touched the heart of Renee Palagyi, Regional Senior Disaster Program Manager. “What a wonderful gesture on her part.  It shows how our mission touches the lives of people in so many ways, those who need our help, and those who want to reach out and help others.”

Knitting a blanket is just one way to support Red Cross efforts to help others.  You can also volunteer your time, or make a donation.

Linda hopes her blanket is big enough to “maybe snuggle up two folks.”  And she writes, “I might even do another one…but not right away :)”

 

 

Let’s Help Save Lives!

CEO Sends Message to Encourage Donations During Board Blood Drive

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Memorial Day weekend approaches.  It’s the unofficial start of the summer season, when blood donations typically drop.  The Greater Cleveland Chapter Board of Directors is sponsoring a blood drive tomorrow, the Thursday before Memorial Day, at Regional Headquarters, 3747 Euclid Avenue in Cleveland.  Regional CEO Mike Parks issued the following message:

Northeast Ohio Red Cross Family: 

As a reminder, on Thursday, May 25th from 1:00-6:00 pm, let’s roll up our sleeves and help save lives!  The American Red Cross Greater Cleveland Chapter will hold a blood drive sponsored by the Board of Directors.  The Red Cross has over 130 years of experience providing humanitarian aid – including more than 70 years of supplying blood to those in need.

Each pint of blood we collect can help save up to three lives and will touch the lives of so many more. What a great way to pay it forward and make an impact on people in our community and across the country.  We are very excited about the drive and I hope you are too.

We are planning some great giveaways for that day.  Let’s show our community and the patients in need of blood just how much we can do.  There are many ways you can help, but most importantly we hope you come out to donate.  It’s not every day that we do something that has such a lifesaving impact. Let’s blow this out of the water! Feel free to invite your family, friends and co-workers to support this critical initiative.  I plan to be first in line at 1:00 pm with my sleeve rolled up!!

Individuals who are at least 17 years of age (16 with parental consent), weigh at least 110 pounds and in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood.  If you are able and eligible to give blood, please make an appointment at www.redcrossblood.org using sponsor code NEOBOARD or call 1-800-RED CROSS.  In addition, you can schedule and track your donation by using the Blood Donor App.  It is free and available for download on iPhoneTM and AndroidTM devices through the App StoreSM and Google PlayTM or by texting BLOODAPP to 90999 for a link to download the App.

On the day of donation, blood donors can save time by using RapidPass to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online prior to arriving at the blood drive by visiting www.redcrossblood.org/RapidPass and following the instructions on the site.  I just found out that the President of Biomedical Services, Shaun Gilmore, and his senior leadership team will be visiting us on Thursday—what better way to demonstrate our commitment to One Red Cross than having a highly successful blood drive—we might even convince them to roll up their sleeves!!

Thank you for supporting the American Red Cross!…Best regards, Mike

Volunteers Honored for Making Homes Safer

President’s Award Bestowed by Stark County Firefighters During EMS Week Celebration

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They weren’t expecting it.  Several volunteers from the American Red Cross of Stark and Muskingum Lakes thought they were simply attending a breakfast to help kick-off EMS Week activities.  But they were honored by the Stark County Firefighters Association with the President’s Award, for the home fire safety and smoke alarm installation events they’ve been a part of.

One of those events took place on May 17, when teams of Red Cross volunteers and partners from the North Canton Fire Department went door-to-door in a senior retirement community of manufactured homes, offering fire safety education and installing smoke alarms at no cost to the residents.  They entered more than 60 homes, installing 130 alarms.

Tim Reichel, the Chapter’s Disaster Program Manager commended the volunteers for the work they have done to make homes and neighborhoods safer.

“It’s a labor of love.  They thoroughly enjoy giving back to the community.  And our partners with the fire department are grateful to be engaged.  It’s a win win for everyone.”

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WE NEED VOLUNTEERS

More home fire safety and smoke alarm installation events are planned throughout the summer, including on June 17, in honor of Flag Day.  Partners from the VA and veterans groups will join Red Cross volunteers in four separate communities that day to help make homes safer.  Visit our website to volunteer for our home fire safety and smoke alarm installation event in honor of Flag Day on June 17.