Red Cross biomedical worker reflects on first disaster deployment

By Tracie Endress, American Red Cross Biomedical Services Recruitment Account Specialist

Editor’s note:  Tracie Endress was deployed in September 2018 as a Red Cross disaster volunteer for the first time in support of those affected by Hurricane Florence.

Photo credit: Tracie Endress, American Red Cross

I donate blood and plasma to the American Red Cross, and knew I wanted to do more so I enrolled as a disaster volunteer. I decided to volunteer because I wanted to make a difference and help people who needed support during this disaster. This was my first disaster deployment. I served in Fayetteville, North Carolina, for two weeks. I was very proud to be a part of this Red Cross disaster response. I met a lot of amazing people who were affected by the disaster and who wanted to give back by volunteering for the Red Cross themselves. It was heartwarming to see how someone who was affected wanted to join the American Red Cross mission to help those in need.

florence 5I worked in the warehouse that packed and distributed the emergency supplies to areas that were affected by the storm. Driving into the disaster areas with 16-foot box trucks to help was very humbling and rewarding. When the people saw us, you could see hope in their eyes, knowing that others cared. People started helping us unpack the trucks and move the items. They would hug me and say, “Thank you for coming.”  The days were long, but we knew we couldn’t stop until all the supplies were dispersed.

While in North Carolina, I met a lot of people who were taking the same journey with me as disaster volunteers. I keep in touch with the volunteers that were there with me. We are family now.  It was a great experience, and I am honored to be a part of the American Red Cross Disaster Volunteer team.

Thousands of American Red Cross workers have mounted a massive response to help tens of thousands of people impacted by Hurricane Florence. See the Hurricane Florence one-month update here.

To apply to become a Red Cross volunteer, complete a volunteer application here.

American Red Cross launches first aid for opioid overdoses course

New online training helps people respond to opioid overdoses and save lives

The American Red Cross has launched First Aid for Opioid Overdoses – an online course to teach people how to respond to a known or suspected opioid overdose.

The 45 minute course contains content on how to identify the signs and symptoms of a suspected opioid overdose and the appropriate care to provide based on the responsiveness of the person. Information on how to use several different naloxone products – including a nasal atomizer, Narcan Nasal Spray, and EVZIO – to temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose is also included.

People can register and access the course at https://www.redcross.org/take-a-class/opioidoverdose. Because an opioid overdose can lead to cardiac arrest, people are also encouraged to take a Red Cross CPR/AED course.

“An opioid overdose is a life-threatening emergency,” said Mike Parks, Regional CEO of the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio.  “When you suspect an opioid overdose, it’s important to start providing care immediately.”

Recently, the Red Cross had the opportunity to share its commitment and efforts to help address this public health crisis at a White House opioids event. Learn more about the event, and the involvement of the Red Cross here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/articles/year-historic-action-combat-opioid-crisis/

The Red Cross has also prepared guidance on opioid use and overdose response for those working in the organization’s shelters during disasters. Recently, these efforts empowered a Red Cross volunteer to help save the life of a person in a shelter during Hurricane Florence.

Hurricane Florence 2018

In addition to the new First Aid for Opioid Overdoses online course, this is the first year Red Cross disaster shelters are arming staff and volunteers with information and supplies to help ensure that everyone stays safe in the case of an opioid overdose. During Hurricane Florence, Julian Delgado with Health Services explains to volunteers how to administer these supplies for residents who may need them in shelters. Photo by Daniel Cima/American Red Cross.

“Residents staying at Red Cross shelters often reflect the demographics of the general population,” said Parks, who worked in shelters in North Carolina during the Hurricane Florence disaster relief operation.  “Volunteer shelter workers who are trained to provide treatment when an overdose is suspected will no doubt save more lives in the future.”

 

 

Red Cross, Fox 8 News raise money to help those affected by Hurricane Florence

Day-long telethon also helped raise awareness for residents affected by the storm.

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

Communities in Northeast Ohio are renowned for the generosity they show at a moment’s notice when individuals are in need. This generosity was evident on September 20.

Understanding the importance of keeping the disaster relief efforts following Hurricane Florence in the news and relevant, despite the lack of coverage nationally, Fox 8 News devoted airtime throughout the day and on Facebook Live to hosting a telethon from Regional Headquarters in Cleveland, including a feature with reporter Todd Meany highlighting the importance of blood donation by giving blood on air in our new blood donation center.

Time and time again volunteers have dedicated their time and efforts to help the Red Cross support the needs of others, and the telethon was not any different. Among the volunteers was Chef Rocco Whalen, proprietor of Fahrenheit in Cleveland and Charlotte. When Chef Rocco heard the Red Cross and Fox 8 News were holding a telethon to help with hurricane disaster relief, he rolled up his sleeves and answered phones to help with donations.

Here are some photos from the telethon. To see more photos from the event, please visit our Flickr page:

 

 

 

We are grateful to Fox 8 News, Chef Rocco Whalen and all the volunteers who helped make the telethon possible and such a success. We also would like to give a special, heartfelt thank you to Northeast Ohio. Due to your immense generosity, we raised $32,186 to support the disaster relief efforts!

It’s Not Over – Florence Flooding Continues in the Carolinas

The threat from Hurricane Florence is far from over as rivers continue to rise in the Carolinas and extremely dangerous flooding is still occurring. Getting help into affected areas is challenging, and will be for some time.  One of the four crews deployed in an Emergency Response Vehicle from Northeast Ohio had to spend the night in a fire house in Marion, South Carolina on Monday, after rising waters cut off their return route.

Some Red Cross workers are finding creative ways to deliver relief to residents stranded by floodwaters, as you can see in this video.

  • Some 18 counties in North Carolina are still under evacuation orders and water rescues are continuing.
  • Nearly 1,000 roads are closed and as many as 220,000 people are without power. Many gas stations are still closed due to power outages and a lack of fuel.

This is a heartbreaking and dangerous situation, and the American Red Cross is working around the clock to provide safe shelter and comfort for the hundreds of thousands of people impacted.

  • The Red Cross is mobilizing more than 140 emergency response vehicles, including 4 from Northeast Ohio, and more than 110 trailers of equipment and supplies, including meals and enough cots and blankets for more than 100,000 people.
  • The Red Cross is working with the National Guard, U.S. Army and other partners to transport disaster workers and supplies to areas in need. On Tuesday, about 40 Red Cross volunteers were flown on military helicopters into areas cut off by flood waters.
  • The Red Cross is working with dozens of partners to support feeding, sheltering, transportation and other disaster services.

Due to Hurricane Florence, nearly 200 blood drives have been forced to cancel, resulting in over 5,200 uncollected blood and platelet donations.

  • We expect additional blood drive cancellations over the coming days, with fewer blood and platelet donors available to give at drives in and around affected areas due to flooding and poor weather conditions.

About 2,800 Red Cross disaster workers, including about four dozen from Northeast Ohio, have been mobilized to help feed, shelter, and support people affected by Florence and the subsequent flooding.

To help support the disaster relief operation, Fox 8 in Cleveland will be broadcasting live reports on Thursday, September 20, from 6:00 am to 7:30 pm.  The station will be promoting a Hurricane Florence disaster relief hotline number, giving viewers the chance to make a donation over the phone.  Donations can also be made online at 1-800 RED CROSS, or by texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 for a $10 donation.

Hurricane Florence Hits Coast – Red Cross Volunteers Respond

More than two dozen volunteers  from NEO deployed to disaster relief operation

The American Red Cross is helping people in multiple states as Hurricane Florence pummels the Carolinas with strong winds, heavy rain and dangerous tidal surges. Twice the size of Louisiana, Florence is inundating communities and leaving hundreds of thousands without power.

 

Residents of Wilson, North Carolina take refuge in a Red Cross shelter.   
                                    Photo credit: Danial Cima/American Red Cross

As Hurricane Florence comes ashore, the Red Cross is providing safe shelter and comfort for evacuees across six states. More than 20,000 people sought refuge in more than 200 Red Cross and community shelters Thursday night to escape the storm’s wrath. View some of their stories here.

As of midnight, 14,000 people were in 124 shelters in North Carolina, and 5,600 people in 59 shelters in South Carolina. An additional 430 people stayed in 23 shelters in Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee and Maryland.

Akron Volunteers 4

Red Cross volunteers Linda Taylor, Bob Schneider, Teresa Greenlief and Cameron Fraser prepare to depart Akron in Emergency Response Vehicles.  Photo credit: Mary Williams/American Red Cross

About 2,000 Red Cross disaster workers from all over the country have been mobilized to help shelter, feed and support people affected by Florence, including 29 from Northeast OhioFour Emergency Response Vehicles based in Northeast Ohio departed from Cleveland, Akron and Canton today, staffed by two-person crews.  They have been assigned to meet in Macon, Georgia.

Susie&Sue

Volunteers Susie Muetzel and Sue Wisdom prepare to depart Cleveland in an ERV.  Photo credit: Jim McIntyre/American Red Cross

Working with partners, the Red Cross has served 47,000 meals and snacks in North Carolina and South Carolina. To bolster relief efforts, the Red Cross is mobilizing nearly 100 emergency response vehicles and more than 120 trailers of equipment and supplies, including 100,000 ready-to-eat meals and enough cots and blankets for more than 42,000 people.

See photos of local media coverage here.

HOW YOU CAN HELP The Red Cross depends on financial donations to be able to provide disaster relief immediately. Help people affected by Hurricane Florence by visiting redcross.org, calling 1- 800-RED CROSS or texting the word FLORENCE to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from this disaster.

The Red Cross honors donor intent. Donors can designate their donation to Hurricane Florence relief efforts by choosing that option when donating on redcross.org or on 1-800-RED CROSS.

PLEASE GIVE BLOOD More than 140 blood drives have been canceled through early next week due to Hurricane Florence, resulting in over 4,200 uncollected blood and platelet donations. Eligible donors in unaffected areas are urged to make an appointment now to give blood or platelets to help maintain the nation’s blood supply. There is a critical need to platelet and type O blood donations. Appointments can be made by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).