March is Red Cross Month-Honoring Heroes Everywhere

By Doug Bardwell – American Red Cross volunteer

“Hero” is defined as a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. Ideally, that should describe all of us.

In this age of political and social conflict, one thing remains clear. In times of need, people in this country rally together to help one another; and the American Red Cross has been recognized for years as the organization that maximizes their efforts.

Every 8 minutes, we help someone in need

Last year, thanks to Red Cross training:

  • 7 million people received CPR and first aid training nationally.
  • 7 million relief items were distributed to victims of countless disasters
  • Shelters provided 658,000 overnight stays for victims of hurricanes, floods, fires, and power outages.
  • Here in Northeast Ohio, we responded to approximately 1,000 fires and other incidents.
  • About $800,000 of financial assistance was provided to those NEO residents.
  • Almost 77,000 military families were connected with their service person through Red Cross emergency communication services.
  • 7 million people donated blood or platelets that saved lives in 2,600 hospitals.
  • More than 15,000 smoke alarms were installed in homes in Northeast Ohio by Red Cross and other area volunteers and partners.

Volunteer Vernita Whittenburg holds a mayoral proclamation, signed by Frank Jackson, Mayor of Cleveland.  Photo credit: Jim McIntyre/American Red Cross

Back in 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt recognized the impact of our organization and declared March as official American Red Cross Month. That tradition has continued through today and recognizes the efforts of all the volunteers that enable it to complete its mission. Approximately 96-percent of the work the Red Cross accomplishes is done by local volunteers in communities across this nation.

Release your inner hero

If you have time, volunteer. If you already volunteer, suggest a friend join with you. If your time is limited, take a class or donate blood. Cash donations are always welcome as well, and help fund the life-saving activities Red Cross provides.

Get involved – then pat yourself on the back – you’re a hero!

Celebrate March is Red Cross Month by Rolling Up Your Sleeves

March is Red Cross Month, and the Red Cross has an urgent need for blood and platelet donors to give now to help restock its shelves following recent winter weather.

Winter storms in March forced the cancellation of more than 200 Red Cross blood drives, resulting in nearly 7,000 uncollected blood and platelet donations. This shortfall follows more than 26,400 uncollected blood and platelet donations in February due to severe weather across 27 states. Regardless of the weather, every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood – from cancer patients to accident victims to premature babies with complications.

March was first proclaimed Red Cross Month in 1943 by former President Franklin Roosevelt. Since then, every president has called on people across America to support the organization’s humanitarian mission in March.

You can help support the Red Cross and ensure blood and platelets are available for patients in need by scheduling an appointment to donate now. To find a donation opportunity near you, download the Blood Donor App, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS. You can also help support the Red Cross by asking others to donate or creating a SleevesUp virtual blood drive.

Why I volunteer: Kevin

By Kevin Murphy, American Red Cross Volunteer

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

 A few years after I graduated from high school I adopted this quote as the mission statement for life.  Having been born with a disability, I had learned that the world isn’t always fair. Even though I had setbacks of my own, I could still do something that would benefit others.

My first experience with the American Red Cross was in the summer of 2013 when the City of Barberton experienced devastating flooding and my employer, the Lake Anna YMCA, was selected as a shelter site for the city.  The next nine days were a whirlwind of activity, but in the end we were able to help a lot of people and do a lot of good in our community.  I knew from that point on that the Red Cross was the place for me!

Disasters do not pick and choose who they affect.  They can strike any person, in any neighborhood, at any time — even at 3 a.m. or when it’s -10 degrees outside. Being a part of the Disaster Action Team has helped me to make a big impact on my community.   It makes me feel good to know that I can help someone at a time when the help matters most to them.

Across the country the Red Cross is a strong organization that helps numerous men, women and children each day.  I strongly believe that our work should be shared with as many people as possible.  I often post on my personal Twitter handle (@macfankevin) when I am responding to a disaster.   It’s not for personal recognition, but rather to help raise awareness of the needs in our community.

Imagine what would happen if I could inspire someone else to help and then they inspire another person. It’s a never ending cycle of good in the world!

I strongly encourage you to do something to give back to your community.  Give. Volunteer . Advocate. Small things that you do today can have a big impact on what happens tomorrow. I have found my niche with the Red Cross. I look forward to many more years of developing my self-capacity and helping others.

Red Cross of Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties celebrate the 2015 Acts of Courage

The Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties Chapter is pleased to announce the local heroes who were honored for their bravery and heroism at the annual  Acts of Courage event on Thursday, March 5.

The 2015 Honorees included:

Donald MoleskyChristopher Silbaugh and John Underwood were recognized for saving the lives of a couple after a torrential downpour left them trapped in their flooded basement.

A tornado watch was in effect for Cuyahoga Falls. As the water line began to rise during the sudden and torrential downpour in May of 2014, the Hammonds family sought safety in the basement of their home. Once the threat of a tornado had cleared, the children returned to the main floor of the house, leaving their parents to clean-up a small amount of water that had seeped through one of the windows.

Suddenly, the basement wall caved in taking a natural gas line with it. Water rushed in, trapping Michaelann and Mike in the dark stillness of the basement. They rose on the crest of the water until their heads touched the ceiling. The floor joists offered the only air space, though it was tainted by the noxious fumes of the gas. They pounded on the wood, calling to the children to go and get help.

The Hammonds siblings – Emma, Matthew and Sonia – swam across the street to the home of their neighbor, Donald Molesky. Their screams alerted many of the neighbors, including Christopher Silbaugh,  and strangers like John Underwood, whose truch had gotten stuck in the flooded road. John, Christopher and Donald ran to the house.

They pulled an ax from the Hammonds garage and used it, along with Donald’s power saw, to cut through the floorboards. They were able to free Michaelann. Working hard but carefully, they finally pulled Mike through the floor.

Peter Radke was recognized for saving a girl from drowning in Lake Erie.

Peter Radke had agreed to take his daughters and their friends to Lake Erie’s Huntington Beach for a birthday party. Though they knew the water was too choppy to swim, Peter noticed a girl in the water who was struggling to stay afloat. Peter was an excellent swimmer. In spite of the conditions, he dove into the water.

He reached the girl and was able to push her to a safe area where others could grab her.

As they did, Peter struggled to bring himself in.  He was pulled further out into the temperamental, black waters of Lake Erie.  Then he was pulled under, not to resurface.  Peter lost his life to save that drowning girl.

David EiseleDave Wokaty and Officer Justin Winebrenner were recognized their actions when a gunman entered a crowded pub.

Dave Wokaty, David Eisle and Officer Justin Winebrenner were each enjoying a night out with friends at a local pub when Wokaty noticed the manager having an altercation with a customer.

15 minutes later, the customer returned brandishing a weapon. The manager asked Wokaty to see the customer out. Their voices rose in anger. Officer Justin Winebrenner, an off-duty Akron Police officer, and David Eisele joined Wokaty in seeing the customer out.

“From that moment, in my perspective, everything began to move slowly,” said Wokaty.

The gun went off. Though their fearless, and quick thinking saved many patrons and staff members, Wokaty was shot in the stomach and arm.

Officer Winebrenner received a fatal shot.

“I believe,” continued Wokaty,” if it weren’t for Justin, I wouldn’t be here now.”

The gunman ran off. He was caught shortly afterwards by the police.

Jason Duncan was recognized for performing CPR to save the life of a 7-day old infant.

On a cool night in early May, Jason Duncan and his wife Krista heard screaming coming from outside of their front door. Then they heard the sound of someone desperately pounding. Opening the door, Jason saw his neighbors, Bobbi Jo and Dustin holding their seven-day-old baby, Logan. The baby was not breathing and his lips had started to turn an unnatural shade of blackish-purple.  While Krista dialed 911, Jason grabbed a nasal aspirator and began infant CPR.

In a few heartbeats, Logan’s tiny cry pierced the stillness. A sound that Jason and Dustin describe as one of the greatest sounds they ever heard.

Essien (Chris) Cobham and Samantha Phillips were recognized for performing CPR on a visiting student at Kent State University.

Kent State University student, Chris Cobham, was studying in a quiet area of the Student Union on campus, when he heard a thud. A high school student who had been visiting the campus was choking. Quickly assessing the situation, Chris stepped in and began abdominal thrusts on the boy. He slid him to the ground and began CPR once the student’s lips turned blue.

Samantha Phillips, who was cutting through the Student Union on her way to her next class, heard the panic in the conversations of those around her. She went to investigate.

“It’s instinct to go and help someone,” said Samantha, who is working on a degree in Athletic Training. Part of her curriculum is Red Cross certification in First Aid and CPR.

She could see that Chris was getting tired. Pulling out her CPR breathing mask, Samantha assisted breathing as Chris administered the chest compressions until help arrived. The boy was taken to the hospital, and is now back at home.

Bill Adkins and Tony Hylton were recognized for performing CPR on a friend, and fellow Seville Bronze worker.

When Jim Robinson fell to the floor not long after arriving at work, suffering from a massive heart attack, Bill Adkins and Tony Hylton responded quickly.  Trained as part of the company-sponsored first responder team at Seville Bronze, they never thought they would be called to perform CPR on Jim.

“Jim was Superman at work. To be pushing on your friend of 18…20 years? It was devastating,” said Tony.

Their extensive training in Red Cross First Aid and CPR kicked in and they were able to help maintain Jim until paramedics arrived.

“If not for the efforts of Bill and Tony, Jim may not be alive today,” said Chief Jerry Winkler of the Seville-Guilford Fire and EMS.

Officer Derrick Jackson,  and Officer Chris Crockett were recognized for saving a man from a home fire.

Officers Chris Crockett and Derrick Jackson reported to the scene of a house fire where someone was still inside. Knowing that seconds count in a fire, Officer Jackson, a new recruit on the Akron Police Department, pushed his way into the building. Thick smoke bellowed from the house. He came back out to catch his breath.

Officer Crockett returned to the police cruiser for a facemask to filter the smoke. Diving into the home, he too began searching around for the resident as Officer Jackson guided to him from the open door. Once the man was located, the officers pulled him to safety.

Devon McConnell, Ethan Cameron, Paul Martin and Andy Reece were recognized for saving two women and an infant from a fire.

Four Ohio Edison linemen — Devon McConnell, Ethan Cameron, Paul Martin and Andy Reece  — sent to a job site in Rittman, were just getting ready to break for lunch when they heard a woman’s voice screaming, “Fire!”

Looking around, Paul Martin saw a woman standing on a balcony, holding a baby in her arms.

The crew called 911. Knowing that time was of the essence, they quickly moved into position. Moving their truck closer to the building, Devon raised the bucket and grabbed the family. As he was lowering the woman and child to the ground, another woman appeared on another balcony and began yelling for help. As heat rolled out of the open door, Devon returned to rescue the second woman. It took five fire departments to contain the blaze.

All four men have first responder certification, as well as Red Cross First Aid and CPR training. They view their actions as just another facet of their job.

“We are fortunate to have a sense of pride in our jobs. It is an amazing feeling, simply to see the lights come on,” said Paul.

Melvin Davis and Steve Myers were recognized for saving a woman from an apartment fire.

On a Friday night in October, a resident at the apartment complex where Melvin Davis is a Live-in Assistant ran into his apartment to alert him to a fire in one of the apartments. Moving quickly, Melvin grabbed his pass key and followed the man. He could smell the smoke. He called out to the resident, an elderly woman. She answered that she was hurt and couldn’t get to the door.

Melvin opened the door. Struggling to breathe, he couldn’t see more than two feet in front of himself. He called out again. He moved into the apartment but returned to the hallway when he heard the door slam shut behind him. Steve Myers, a resident of the complex, was in the hall and offered to hold the door so that Melvin would be able to find his way out.

Melvin returned into the smoke and crackling flames of the apartment. Working between the sound of the woman’s voice and the sound of Steve’s, he was able to pull the woman to the door. Steve and Melvin moved her to the safety of the stairwell and then began helping the rest of the residents out of the building.

“It was just a blessing to help her,” said Steve.

Officer Adam LeMonier, Officer Darren McConnell and Officer Gregory Mesko were recognized for saving a woman from a home fire.

Officers Adam LeMonier, Darren McConnell and Gregory Mesko were called to a smoke filled home. Neighbors reported that the resident was at home and had not been seen. Moving quickly, the officers made the decision to enter the home and search for the woman. The Officers found her asleep on her bed unaware of what was going on. She was quickly removed from the home.

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In addition to recognizing the heroism of area residents at the event, the American Red Cross of Summit, Portage and Medina Counties will present the H. Peter Burg Award to a community member who has been selfless in service to the community.  This year’s recipient is William (Bill) J. Ginter, who demonstrates a lifelong commitment to humanitarian causes, charitable organizations and the vitality and welfare of the local community.

While CEO of FirstEnergy and chair of the local Red Cross Board of Directors, H Peter Burg established a legacy of dedicated service to the Greater Akron community. Following his death in 2004, the American Red Cross established an award in Pete’s name to honor his memory and inspire others. By bestowing the award on Bill the Red Cross recognizes his lifetime of community service.

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Coffee, Tea, Contacts and Red Cross Services – Oh my!

In celebration of March is Red Cross month, the Lorain County Chapter opened its doors to Lorain County chamber members for the networking event, “Coffee, Tea and Contacts”.  An overflow of local business members attended the event.

Much of the conversation focused on the good works performed by the Red Cross in the community including the Red Cross disaster response (and the partnership with the Animal Protection League that helps four-legged family members during a disaster), Pet First Aid training, the new Pet First Aid App, Babysitting Training Courses.

Lorain County Chapter President, Tony Gallo was also quick to mention to the 40 attendees that the April 5th Red Cross Red Tie Event would be the event of the year (and it was!)

 

Lorain County Chapter Executive, Rita Campbell stands with Lorain County Chamber of Commerce President, Tony Gallo, during the March “Coffee, Tea and Contacts” networking event held at the chapter.

Lorain County Chapter Executive, Rita Campbell stands with Lorain County Chamber of Commerce President, Tony Gallo, during the March “Coffee, Tea and Contacts” networking event held at the chapter.

 

 

What are the odds? A NEO Red Cross International Case.

The services provided by the Red Cross offers hope to so many in our community, in so many different ways.

Recently, a Restoring Family Links (RFL) client in Stark County was searching for his Registration Records. The RFL program, offered through our local chapters, is part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. The Movement is present in every country in the world and is supported by millions of volunteers.  As part of a global network, the movement assists individuals who are attempting to find family members who were separated by armed conflict or other situations of violence and disasters. Depending on the circumstance, the program can assist an individual with obtaining records.

The Stark County client filled out all of the necessary paper work with RFL caseworker, Barb. Once his request was processed, his records were sent to the chapter.

When Melissa, the International Affairs Manager, received the documents she attempted to contact the client but a recording stated that the phone had been disconnected.

“I hope his address is current. I will have to send him a letter advising him that his requested paperwork has arrived,” she mused out loud.

“How else will you find this man?” said a Red Cross volunteer working in Melissa’s office.  The volunteer asked for the client’s name.

“Oh my goodness! He lives across the way from my apartment,” she exclaimed when Melissa told her the name.

What are the odds?

The Red Cross volunteer went home that day and told her neighbor, the client, that his documents had come into the office that very day.

“I have been waiting for these papers. Now I can begin to move forward with my life!” he stated.

To learn more about our International Services, visit www.redcross.org/international or contact your local Red Cross Chapter.

Learn more about Flood Safety Awareness with a new app from the Red Cross

On average, there are 89 fatalities and more than $8.3 billion dollars in damage each year as a result of flooding. Floods and flash floods are the most common, and costliest, weather related disaster in the United States. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the organization that monitors and manages weather and ocean related data, predicts that minor flooding will occur this spring in Northeast Ohio. That prediction does not take in to consideration the potential for flash flooding, a type of flooding that occurs when water rises in a short amount of time, quickly with little or no warning.

In an effort to get the word out about the deadly nature of flooding, NOAA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) observe Flood Safety Awareness week from March 16 through 22.

Screen Shot from the Flood App, now available from the American Red Cross.

Screen Shot from the Flood App, now available from the American Red Cross.

To celebrate, the American Red Cross released a free, Flood app.  The app helps users gain more information about how to prepare for and respond to a flood in their area. It features interactive quizzes and awards users with badges that can be shared on social networks.

Want to build an emergency kit in preparation? The app can help with that!

Most importantly, the app can be used during a flood. It provides an audible and location specific alert when a Flood Warning or Watch is in effect, plus a toolbox of helpful features such as turning a smart phone’s camera flash into a flashlight and helping the user post the message “I’m safe” on social networks. It will also map out area Red Cross shelters.

The app is available in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store or visit redcross.org/apps