Friday, February 25, 2011

The Red Cross through the eyes of a Child.

A 10 year old boy recently asked me,  "Why do I smile when I say the words American Red Cross?"  I explained to him that the Red Cross does so many things from helping people in a disaster to helping people learn how to save a life.

The words "save a life" really caught his attention...

He asked, "So you can help someone who is having a heart attack?  I smiled and said, "Yes,  I have been trained to, and so can you!"

"Really?!" as his eyes light it. We the continued to talk about what to do in an emergency.  The very next day the boy wrote this poem!   
After reading this poem you will know exactly why we at the Red Cross do what we do, day in and day out! 

Sherry Pitchford, Instructor/Office Manager
Merced/Mariposa Counties Chapter

"I saw someone tall
Go down and fall.
I asked if he was okay
But he just mumbled, "Heeeey."
I told someone to call 9-1-1
But they just looked stunned.
That's when I said "Yo!"
"If you want to save his life, then Go!"
And so they went
While I opened his air vent.
When the ambulance came
They started giving me fame.
To me this didn't fit
To save someone's life, was all worth it.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Quick Update!

Laser Safety
Either this is a new procedure to remove liver spots or Dr. Evil is testing his new laser!
Don't forget that burn treatment is covered in our Basic First Aid course which we offer in community classes, workplace training, or even online! Sign up today or call your local Chapter at (559) 455-1000.

What In The World, Wednesdays!

Welcome to What In The World, Wednesday! In which we consolidate the international Red Cross and Red Crescent news into one list of bite-sized links for you. It's a non-comprehensive sampling of the larger and/or more intriguing aspects of our global work...
NEW ZEALAND: The New Zealand Red Cross responded immediately after the quake struck, providing first aid assistance as well as distributing blankets and water to people housed in evacuation shelters set up across the city. Eight Red Cross emergency response teams have been mobilized to the affected area to provide logistical support, help run welfare centers and assist in urban search and rescue.

LIBYA: The ICRC is stepping up its preparations to support medical facilities and treat the injured in Libyan cities where violence has taken place over the past few days. It is sending medical teams and surgical supplies to the area.

COLOMBIA: During the last three months of 2010, Colombia experienced the longest and most devastating stretch of wintry conditions for 40 years, which has heightened the vulnerability of people affected by armed conflict. The ICRC has been assisting with food, health services and other support.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Are You Prepared For Disaster?

Yesterday, New Zealand was struck by a 6.3 magnitude earthquake, followed by several aftershocks ranging between 4.5 to 5.7 magnitudes. There is widespread damage throughout Christchurch, including collapsed buildings in the center of the city and damage to roads and bridges. Electricity supplies have been cut to about half of the city and Christchurch airport is closed.

Despite the conditions, the 
New Zealand Red Cross is already hard at work, providing first aid and helping families re-connect with their loved ones.

While our hearts are across the globe, our minds are right here at home. 
Would Californians be prepared if a similar disaster were to strike our state? It's a matter of when, not if, our state will feel the impact of an earthquake...will you be ready?

Please take this opportunity to refresh your personal disaster plan by taking the free, interactive Be Red Cross Ready class. While an earthquake anywhere is a terrible reminder, it's a reminder nonetheless -- don't let it pass you by.
Get prepared for an earthquake now

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Disaster Update: Earthquake in New Zealand

From the New Zealand Red Cross National Office

At 12.51 pm (NZDT) today, February 22, 2011, the South Island of New Zealand was struck by a 6.3 magnitude earthquake. The earthquake hit at a depth of 5km (shallow) and is reported to be an aftershock of the 7.1 magnitude earthquake, which struck the same area on September 4, 2010. The epicenter of the earthquake was about 10km southeast of the city of Christchurch (population 340,000). The earthquake has been followed by several aftershocks ranging between 4.5 to 5.7 magnitudes. The death toll has reached 65 and is expected to rise. There is widespread damage throughout Christchurch, including collapsed buildings in the center of the city and damage to roads and bridges. Electricity supplies have been cut to about half of the city and Christchurch airport is closed.

The New Zealand Red Cross has activated its national emergency operations center at their national office in Wellington. Response teams from the Christchurch and Timaru branches are on the ground working in Christchurch now, with teams from Nelson and Blenheim on their way. Dunedin, Queenstown, Invercargill and West Coast teams are all due to arrive tomorrow morning to assist. The Red Cross teams are working with Civil Defense, New Zealand Police, the local councils and agencies to assess the needs and determine how the Red Cross can best assist. One evacuation center has been opened for approximately 2,000 people.

The New Zealand Red Cross has provided first aid assistance and has distributed blankets to the displaced families. It has started national restoring family linking activities, and a telecommunications team is being deployed to Christchurch and will be operational tomorrow morning. The Australian Red Cross will provide some bilateral assistance based on the existing agreements with the New Zealand Red Cross.

As of now, the New Zealand Red Cross has not asked for international assistance, and the American Red Cross has not made plans to fundraise or communicate specifically for this disaster. By tomorrow morning the New Zealand Red Cross will provide more information on whether international assistance will be needed. We'll update you as our role and status changes.

New Zealand Red Cross has opened a telephone hotline for people looking for their relatives missing due to the earthquake. 

You may refer clients in your community to this hotline. Please note that international telephone charges apply. The New Zealand Red Cross hotline to inquire about persons missing due to the earthquake is: 011-647-850-2199.  

Inquiries concerning U.S. citizens living or traveling in New Zealand should be referred to the U.S. Department of State, Office of Overseas Citizens Services, at 1-888-407-4747. Please remember that this phone number is frequently busy during the first days of a large disaster. 

In Need Of Shelter? There's An App For That!

Guess What iPhone App I Just Downloaded?

Hint: it's not Angry Birds or Words with Friends. (Though those are both fun apps.)

Nope. It's the new Red Cross shelter location app! That's right, now you can get real-time shelter info on your iphone. So in the case of disaster, you're just one touchscreen away from instant shelter location maps, details, and the Red Cross disaster newsroom.

Download it now so you'll have it if/when you need it.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Join Us In The Next Generation of Red Cross Training!

Join the American Red Cross on Thursday, March 3, 2011 and attend our virtual Health & Safety trade show! 

Live Web Event: March 3rd, 2011
11 am - 6 pm, CST

This show is for Red Cross Authorized Providers, Full Service Clients, Instructors, people that are interested in becoming a Red Cross Instructor or if you have a general interest CPR/First Aid/AED Training offerings and opportunities.


· Learn About Science Guideline Changes
Learn how the latest science guideline changes will impact Red Cross programs.

· Preview New Programs
Watch our webcasts about new Red Cross programs releasing in 2011 and get your questions answered by the experts. New courses include First Aid/CPR/AED, CPR/AED for Professional Rescuers and Health Care Providers and Emergency Medical Response.

· Visit the Exhibit Hall
Virtually manned booths will allow you to learn more about new programs and products available through the Red Cross, preview new digital and print training materials and chat with industry experts. You can also sign up to become a Red Cross customer or instructor. 

· Download Helpful Resources
Visit the Resource Center to download the Red Cross program catalog and watch videos.

· Network with Colleagues
Visit the Networking Lounge and live chat with other health and safety professionals like yourself. Trade best practices, ask for new ideas or just introduce yourself.

Click here to access the Web Expo Flier.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Prepare-aphernalia: An Empty Box of Altoids

Sometimes the perfect piece of prepare-aphernalia is a $8,000 complex contraption.
And sometimes it's a cheap old empty box of mints.

If you are a lover of ingenuity in preparedness, you have to check out the Art of Manliness blog's post on 22 Ways to Reuse an Altoids Tin. Yes. Twenty-two.

First aid kits, miniature emergency kits, emergency candles, a flashlight... it turns out you can make an Altoids tin into just about anything. And this round-up shows you how.

Just a few of our favorites:

First Aid Kit: Perfect size to carry the essentials anywhere and on the go!

Game Set: This little gaming center should be tossed into your Emergency Preparedness Kit!

Mini-Flashlight: Small yet handy, this could also travel or be in your kit!

Check out the rest, along with links to the how-to guides. Have you created any nifty Prepare-aphernalia of your own? Well, we want to hear about it, so send us your photos/stories to Happy Thursday Red Crossers!

What In The World, Wednesday!

Welcome to What In The World, Wednesday! In which we consolidate the international Red Cross and Red Crescent news into one list of bite-sized links for you. It's a non-comprehensive sampling of the larger and/or more intriguing aspects of our global work...
ITALY: The Italian Red Cross is responding to an influx of thousands of Tunisian migrants - providing healthcare and basic necessities such as clothing, food and first aid kits.

MALAYSIA: When the worst floods in four years forced thousands from their homes, Malaysian Red Crescent staff and volunteers responded - providing search and rescue assistance, food, and basic necessities.

THAILAND/CAMBODIA: Armed clashes between Thailand and Cambodia recently displaced some 30,000 people. Red Cross workers responded - providing food, tarpaulins, blankets, clothes, mosquito nets, bottled water, buckets, and sending health personnel and water engineers to both countries.

OCCUPIED GOLAN: The ICRC is conducting its annual transfer of apples from occupied Golan to Syria proper. A record-setting 12 tons of apples this year! (See more ways the ICRC is helping in occupied Golan.)

SAUDI ARABIA: The ICRC and the Saudi Red Crescent Society have set up way for families to video-teleconference with relatives held at the US facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

VANATU: In a period of two weeks, Vanuatu has been hit by two successive tropical cyclones, Vania and Yasi, impacting the lives of over 32,000 people. On the island of Erromango, some Red Cross volunteers are delivering relief supplies on foot - walking for up to five days to reach remote areas.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Hurricane Katrina's Disaster Relief

Winter has decided to make a comeback!

Don’t let Mother Nature fool you into thinking Spring has sprung with these last few days of almost 70 degree weather and fog free skies, that we have seen the last of old Jack Frost.
NOAA Weather bureau is sending out warnings for everyone to be prepared for another winter storm set to pass through the Central Valley starting tonight through this weekend. This winter storm will be bringing more rain and even the possibility of snow reaching down into the foothills.

So I would like to put out a warning to those of you that might be thinking this storm is supposed to be a small one because the groundhog didn’t see his shadow so Spring must near.  It may be near but it is not here yet! 

Even the smallest storm can bring on a disaster if you’re not prepared for it. The smallest amount of rain can bring flash floods into the foothills. Snow can also bring hazards of its own such as “black ice”.

So don’t get caught with your shorts and short sleeve shirts on just yet. If you have to travel make sure you have a survival kit in your car, just in case you get stuck and have to use your car as a shelter. 

Until next week stay warm, stay dry, and most importantly be prepared and be Red Cross Ready.

-Hurricane Katrina

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day from the Red Cross.

Happy Valentine's Day!
From all of us at the American Red Cross Central Valley Chapter, we hope you and your Valentine have a wonderful day! 
However, if you forgot to get your loved one a gift and are in the doghouse tomorrow, why not start the road to redemption with a CPR/AED course or a First Aid Kit. 
Who knows, an ice pack may come in handy if you don't get a good "I'm Sorry" gift!

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Greatest Valentine's Day Gift Ever!

Would you know what to do if your valentine suffered sudden cardiac arrest?

This valentine’s day, forget the roses, chocolates, and romance; give your loved ones a gift from the heart, 
for the heart. Each year in the U.S., sudden cardiac arrest causes 325,000 deaths. If CPR and AED’s are utilized within the first five minutes of collapse, as many as 30 to 50 percent of victims would be likely to survive. So this Valentine’s day, rather then clog your significant others arteries full of chocolate, make a promise to one another to get trained in CPR. After all, the intense romance and intimacy associated with the big “day o' love” provide the perfect recipe for disaster. Take the following situations for example:
  • Choking on a piece of chocolate. 
  • Slipping on melted candle wax. 
  • Being assaulted by an ex-lover while dining with her best friend. 
  • Being suffocated by an oversized teddy bear. 
  • Getting pricked by a rose and severing an artery. 
  • Hyperventilation from a marriage proposal. 
  • Food poisoning from the restaurant 
  • Car accident on the drive home. 
  • Burglars raiding the house while you’re gone, and the shock of losing Jersey Shore: Season One. 
  • Lastly, the biggest heartbreak of all, being stood up! 
With all the possible things that can go wrong this Valentine's Day, it is essential that you be prepared. We at the American Red Cross are able to accommodate all your CPR/AED, and First Aid training needs. Contact us on the web at or by phone at (559) 455-1000. 

Teaching how to save lives, priceless, for everything else, there’s the American Red Cross.
 -Aaron Lloyd, is an Intern in Health & Safety Services. He joins us from California State University, Fresno and is a student in the Master's of Public Health.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Man's Best Friend!

Disaster comes in many forms and often occurs without warning. We at the American Red Cross encourage individuals to become Red Cross Ready. What does this mean you might ask? Well it includes getting a kit, making a plan, and being informed. These are steps to take to prepare yourself when the unthinkable strikes. 

When preparing for disaster, it is important to include your loved ones in the planning. And lets not forget about the ones we love the most, the cute, cuddly, four legged creatures that you can always count on for friendship and loyalty. During our greatest moments of adversity and chaos that accompany disaster, man's best friend should not be forgotten. In the case of my ex-wife, man's best friend would have been firmly grasped in my arms as I run out of the burning house, while she is left to gather the important documents such as my coupons to Red Robin. Our pets bring so much joy and happiness into our lives; it is our duty as pet owners to ensure that they are equally prepared for disaster.     

The American Red Cross makes the following recommendations regarding preparing your pet for disaster:
  • Include Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, and bowl) in your kit.
  • Keep a phone list of pet-friendly hotel/motels and animal shelters that are along your evacuation routes.
  • Include a 7 day supply of medications for your pets.
  • Get trained in Pet First Aid and CPR.
Pet First Aid and CPR is offered by the American Red Cross and is a valuable resource for pet owners. Just like with people, accidents and emergencies can happen to animals- so being prepared could make a lifesaving difference. For more information on Pet First Aid and CPR or to register for a course, contact your local American Red Cross at (559) 455-1000 or visit us online at Together, we can show our pets the same love and compassion that they show us day in and day out. 

-Aaron Lloyd, is an Intern in Health & Safety Services. He joins us from California State University, Fresno and is a student in the Master's of Public Health.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Quick Update!

Reverse Safety! 
No matter what the operator may do, you'll have your hands up with crushed glee! 
Have you heard that the Red Cross now offers two-year certifications on all CPR and First Aid? Well what are you waiting for? Sign up for your workplace training today! Visit us online at or call (559) 455-1000.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Hurricane Katrina's Disaster Relief!

Well folks, this has been a very busy month for the Disaster Action Teams throughout Fresno County. We've averaged 25 disasters in the month of January and have assisted 35 families that were displaced by disaster. This is a heart breaking way to start out the year. 
Our call break down for the month is as follows...
Number of Structures Affected:
Single Family Fires- 14
Multi Housing Fires- 4
Mobile Home Fires- 3
Gas Leaks- 6
Flooding- 5
Miscellaneous- 3

As for February, it is starting slow and we are hoping it will stay that way! As the days start to grow longer and the sun is fighting to peak through and warm our homes, we can hopefully start to put away though pesky portable heaters. 

But until the sun does decide to completely warm the Valley floor again, and if you are still using your portable heaters, here is a small reminder of what can happen to your home, if they are left unattended. ..

This was a home for two families and one family member fell asleep and the portable heater she was using caught fire. By the looks of the photos you will see that both families were extremely lucky to get out alive. 

The fire started in the bedroom around 6:45am and swept through the entire house within minutes. Consuming everything in its path, not a room was left untouched by its fury. The Fire Battalion Chief stated that all of the right ingredients were in this house to make this a perfect fire storm, and that is what caused every room in the house to go up the way it did. Even though the families made it out safely some of their pets did not. One mother cat and her four kittens, and the family dog died. The family was not only devastated by the loss of their material items, but also by loss of their dear pets as well.

Please remember that these are the innocent victims that cannot yell for help and rely on their owners to be responsible in making sure that if you have to get out in a hurry they can be rescued. They are just as scared as you but it is in their nature to hide in these situations. Make sure you know where they like to hide. Most pets will go to a place they are familiar with so make sure you are aware of where those places may be in the house. Don’t linger looking for your pet just make a quick search, and get out of the house. Let the Fire Crews know you have pets, so they can look for them as they are putting out the fire.

Please make sure you have an emergency plan for your pets as well as yourself. They are part of the family too!


Monday, February 7, 2011

The Spirit of a Community.

Each and everyday a family in the Central Valley is affected by disaster. Whether it is a house fire, flood, or gas leak, your local Chapter of the American Red Cross is ready and responding to emergencies right here at home. We are not a Government agency. We rely on the support of individuals just like you, our readers, to assist in our mission in providing disaster assistance to those in need. 

Every year, the Central Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross designates a week in which we hold specific activities and events to raise money for local families affected by disaster. This year, January 31st through February 5th, was "Save-A-Family" week.  In early January, we placed the call to action to our volunteers, and the response we received was phenomenal with over 200 Red Cross volunteers assisting us throughout the week. 

We kicked off the week on Wednesday with a telethon held on KSEE 24, a proud sponsor of the Red Cross. Board Members, Volunteers, Instructors and Red Cross Employees manned the phones for over 12 hours collecting donations and providing insight to what it takes to be a member of the Red Cross Army.

Thursday, with the help of the Richter Center at California State University, Fresno and the Student Nursing Association of Fresno City College, we hit the streets on two corners here in Fresno with red buckets in hand collecting donations. The response we received from the public was beyond amazing and overall we brought in more money than we had ever brought in before! I am sure having sorority girls and the Fresno Monsters out on the corners didn't hurt our odds either!

Saturday night, with the help of Fresno State Athletics we attended the Basketball Game where the Bulldogs took on Louisiana Tech. With over 50 volunteers, Timeout, and Dr. Welty we took over the Save Mart Center as volunteers traveled through each aisle of the arena collecting donations. 

Overall, the week was a success and the funds we received exceeded our expectations. The spirit of a community could not be broken despite grueling economic times. The compassion of the Central Valley can overcome it all when we pull together for the sake of humanity. Disaster never takes a day off, and we at the Red Cross don't either! You too can still do you part. Donate today at and change a life, starting with your own!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Butt-Dialing for Disasters!

The occasional ‘butt-dial’ usually brings forth a sense of confusion or awkwardness, but for one man it brought a SWAT team to his place of work. On January 4, 2011 a woman received a call from her husband around 5:00 PM. Instead of hearing his voice, the woman was greeted with muffled sounds paired with rap music. Alarmed, the woman reported what she somehow assumed was a hostage situation to 911. Unknown to her and the police force, the man had actually accidentally ‘butt-dialed’ her while driving. Within a short period of time, thirty members of the Lake County SWAT team arrived at Carlton Washburne School in Winnetka, IL. After searching the school, the SWAT team discovered that there was in fact no hostage situation.

While this couple was lucky with a false alarm, it doesn’t always end up this fortunate for those in a real-life crisis. Social media has moved far from the Facebook status update about your New Year’s Eve plans and has become a life-saving device for disaster victims. For example, those affected by the 7.0 earthquake in Haiti were able to communicate to loved ones. “Phones are working somewhat in Haiti. Can't get a hold of my family though," was one post Tweeted among the many others.

As we continue to utilize the benefits of instant communication, more and more people believe in the power – which is both positive, but a serious challenge to emergency response organizations like the Red Cross. In an online survey of 1,058 adults conducted for the American Red Cross found that if they needed help and couldn’t reach 9-1-1, one in five would try to contact responders through digital platforms (such as email, websites or social media). Further, a high percentage of 74 expected help to arrive less than one hour after their tweet or Facebook post. As the rate of socialization increases, the time frame for emergency workers to respond decreases.

The Red Cross held an Emergency Social Data Summit last August to discuss the reality of the public expectations when it comes to using social media as a form of emergency response.

The following questions were asked and are still being discussed:

  • What can we do to prepare in advance of a crisis?
  • Who should have custody of social data? How should it be used?
  • Can we codify a solution?
  • What about issues of accessibility?
  • How do we avoid a duplication of effort?
  • What is the best way to authenticate requests?
  • How do we manage citizen expectations for response?

What do you think - would you use a traditional phone call or social media to find help during a crisis? Have an opinion? Be sure to join the online discussion by using the Twitter hashtag #CrisisData .

What in the World, Wednesday!

Welcome to the What In the World, Wednesday! In which we consolidate the international Red Cross and Red Crescent news into one list of bite-sized links for you. It's a non-comprehensive sampling of the larger and/or more intriguing aspects of our global work...

AUSTRALIA: With barely time to catch their breath from the flood relief efforts, Australian Red Crossers are now also responding to Cyclone Yasi - assisting with evacuation centers and helping people find out about the safety of family and friends.
EGYPT: One week into the protests that are shaking Egypt, the ICRC is working together with the Egyptian Red Crescent Society to gain a clearer picture of the humanitarian situation and the resulting needs. Support for health services and access to detainees are ICRC priorities.
IRAN/IRAQ: This week the ICRC helped repatriate the remains of 38 Iraqi soldiers killed during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War.
TUNISIA: The ICRC has resumed its visits to people in Tunisian places of detention to monitor the conditions in which they are being held and the treatment they receive.
CHAD: The ICRC helped 369 ex-detainees return to their villages.
The Philippine Red Cross has delivered assistance to thousands of residents affected by floods and landslides