The Pillowcase Project Presented To North Ridgeville Students

Fifth Graders Learn About Preparing and Coping With Potential Emergencies

Students at Wilcox Elementary school in North Ridgeville are now better prepared for potential disasters, thanks to American Red Cross volunteer Alice Martinez and The Pillowcase Project.

Alice teaches students in grades 3, 4 and 5 about hazards they may encounter in Northeast Ohio, and how to prepare for and cope with emergencies.  As part of the class, students are given sturdy pillowcases, provided by Disney, which they decorate and take home.  The students are instructed to fill those pillowcases with supplies they may need to take with them should they be forced to leave their homes in a hurry.

The Pillowcase Project was inspired by college students in New Orleans in 2005.  As hurricane Katrina approached, many students were seen leaving their dorms with pillowcases slung over their shoulders.  They were carrying whatever they could fit into those pillowcases.

The instructions are tailored for the region where they are taught.  With winter weather approaching, the children at Wilcox elementary were reminded of the potential dangers posed by extreme winter weather conditions, as well as tornadoes, flooding and home fires.

On Monday, October 19, a news crew from WKYC Channel 3 recorded The Pillowcase Project Presentation in the fifth grade classroom of Mrs. Pam Ventimiglia.  Senior Health Correspondent Monica Robins interviewed some of the student about what they learned, and a videographer recorded them decorating their pillowcases.  You can see Monica’s report here.

Photo credit: Jim McIntyre/American Red Cross

The program is part of the Red Cross Home Fire Preparedness Campaign.  It began in Cleveland as Operation Save-A-Life in 1992, following a spate of deadly home fires.  The goal of the national campaign is to reduce the number of deaths caused by home fires by 25% over a five-year period.

The Red Cross has also designed youth app, called Monster Guard: Prepare for Emergencies, based on The Pillowcase Project and was also sponsored by Disney as part of this program.

American Red Cross Volunteers Teach WKYC Workers CPR

Part of the Station’s Safety Week Observance

First, a fire drill on live TV.  Then, Citizen CPR courses taught in the same studio used by the cast and crew of “Live on Lakeside” and Fox Sports Ohio.  It was all part of Safety Week activities initiated by Channel 3 and the American Red Cross.

During three separate sessions, trained Red Cross volunteers gave dozens of station employees the skills to help save lives by putting more cardiac arrest victims within a few steps of lifesaving assistance.

Volunteers Jerry and Diana Goodman, Beth Ann Barto, Pam Hendrix and Walter Reddick led the lessons on the hands-only technique, teaching TV 3 staffers to first check victims for consciousness, next to call 9-1-1, and then to give continuous chest compressions to patients experiencing cardiac arrest.

“Citizen CPR courses give untrained bystanders the ability to buy time for victims of cardiac arrest,” said Pat Buckhold, Director of Volunteer Services in Northeast Ohio. “Chest compressions can help keep a patient alive until trained medical help arrives.”

Pat led one of the sessions, explaining that the target is 100 chest compressions per minute.  “There are a few songs you can hum in your head to help you keep the proper pace,” she said.  “My favorite for this exercise is ‘Stayin’ Alive’ by the Bee Gees.”

The Citizen CPR courses followed a fire drill, held during a live broadcast of “Live on Lakeside.” It was meant to determine how responsive the staff of the TV station would be.  While employees filed out of the building, Mike Parks, CEO of the Northeast Ohio Region of the Red Cross joined Micki Byrnes to explain to the audience the importance of responding to fire alarms immediately.

The fire drill and the Citizen CPR courses at Channel 3 took part during National Preparedness Month. See our previous posts on being prepared for disasters.

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Top Ten Fire Safety Tip List

For Home and Work

The biggest disaster threat in the United States isn’t tornado, hurricane or flood: it is fire. The American Red Cross responds to nearly 70,000 disasters every year.  Most are home fires.  In Northeast Ohio, Red Cross workers and volunteers help an average of 3 families, victims of home fires every night.

Mike Parks, Chief Executive of the American Red Cross, Northeast Ohio Region recently appeared on WKYC Channel 3 to help the station kick-off its Safety Week activities.  Station management has a genuine concern for the well-being of the Channel 3 workforce, so they turned to the Red Cross during National Preparedness Month to help improve worker readiness in the face of an emergency.

During Mike’s visit to the station on Monday, September 14, the fire alarm was sounded.  Employees were not warned in advance.  The exercise was meant to assess their reaction. Hosts Michael Cardamone and Hollie Giangreco vacated the premises promptly, along with the studio crew and support staff.  Mike then went on the air with station President and General Manager Micki Byrnes to explain the importance of responding immediately to a fire alarm, and to credit the employees who evacuated without hesitation.

“This is something all companies should be doing,” he said.  “All organizations should have a plan in place.”

Fire prevention and escape plans aren’t just for the workplace: every home should have a plan as well.

Here is a Top Ten list of Fire Safety Tips:

  1. Install smoke alarms on every floor
  2. Change the batteries at least once a year, and install a new one if the low-battery alarm chirps
  3. Test alarms once a month
  4. Teach children what a smoke alarm sounds like and what to do if they hear it
  5. Establish at least two escape routes from your home
  6. Consider emergency escape ladders for rooms on the second floor and above
  7. Select a meeting spot where your family can safely gather after escaping
  8. Practice your escape plan twice a year: time each drill until every family member can escape within two minutes
  9. Make an emergency kit. Get the basics from our previous blog posting here.
  10. Visit redcross.org to find out more about how to protect you and your family from fire

Every year, the Red Cross spends an average of $370 million helping people and communities prepare for, respond to, and recover from nearly 70,000 disasters across the country and around the world. Help people affected by disasters like home fires and countless other crises by making a donation to support Red Cross Disaster Relief. Visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation towards disaster relief.

And be watching Channel 3 News for more coverage of National Preparedness Month. Employees are being offered classes in First Aid and CPR through the American Red Cross.