Thursday, May 23, 2013

Liberty Elementary

When we “assessed” our community for our Community Health class project, we never expected to have so much fun!  Rich or poor, it turns out not that many people are as prepared for disaster as they’d like to think they are.  Our group of student nurses from National University, in partnership with the American Red Cross, set out to help the students, their families, and the faculty of Liberty Elementary be more prepared.   
We set up a booth at their school carnival and were overwhelmed by the interest and excitement of all who stopped by.  Whether spinning the disaster wheel to test their preparedness knowledge or learning hands-only CPR, our new friends at Liberty Elementary kept us busy and had us laughing all night!  We had such a great time teaching young and old alike how to be prepared in any emergency, be it cardiac arrest, fire, tornado, or even alien or zombie attack!  Thank you Liberty Elementary and American Red Cross; we couldn’t have done this without you!

Written by: Kristie Panas, Student Nurse at National University and one of Red Cross' many outstanding volunteers!

Friday, May 10, 2013

World Link, Foreign Exchange Students, Students with a Cause!

Over the past few months the Red Cross Central Valley Region southern counties has had the opportunity to work with the wonderful students from World Link. World Link is an organization that conducts exchange programs nationwide. The program connects youth from varies countries with educators, families and government projects within the United States. The purpose of the program is to improve people’s understanding of the different cultures from around the world.
While in the United States World Link students are to participate in community service, leadership activities and demonstrate leadership skills. The wonderful students homed at various high schools throughout Tulare and Kings Counties did exactly that! Sandra, Preparedness Coordinator and I had the opportunity to work with the AMAZING group of youth during the 2013 Tulare County Team Firestopper Fire Safety Seminar event. These students were at the event from morning to late afternoon and they were excited the whole entire time! Once trained at their designated booth/station they were all set to teach families about the different areas of preparedness including, Build-A-Kit, Make-A-Plan, Pet Safety, Smoke Alarm and Carbon Monoxide Safety, hands only CPR and how to operate a fire extinguisher. We were excited to see how engaged the students were and their great leadership skills. By the end of the day they were experts. I was glad that the students realized the importance of this information; they took full advantage of the day and were genuinely concerned about one another’s safety that at the end of the event they went around to each station and taught each other all the educational material.
Since the World Link students have volunteered their time and met the criteria for a FREE CPR class we welcomed them back to the Visalia Branch Office for their training. In addition to their training, as a showing of appreciation, we thought we would give them some little keep sake presents to take with them back home. Some students will return to countries that do not have such an elaborate emergency services system. Among the stories shared, a student who lost a grandfather due to no insurance or money to pay the emergency responders and a student who was worried that emergency responders back home could not reach a loved one in time. If you think about it, these are life changing events that can occur within any country, but we often take for granted the fact that we here in the U.S can receive help in a timely matter and regardless of insurance. In the U.S. a paramedic will not ask for payment first and refuse care if we cannot pay. Therefore, we are glad that these students now have the knowledge, training and skills in CPR to save a life of a friend, loved one or neighbor back home. The smile on their faces at the end of the day and the sincere thank you was absolutely heartwarming and priceless!
We at the American Red Cross Central Valley Region are so grateful and thankful to have had the opportunity to meet each and every one of these students. Their stories are touching and their personalities are electric. We look forward to the continuum of the partnership and the new group of students that we will receive during the 2013-2014 school year. As for the students we had this year, we will miss you and we wish you the best of luck in the future!
Below is a list of students, their home country and high School! Pretty cool and awesome stuff, check it out!
Anna-Kazakhstan-El Diamante High School
Nurgul-Kyrgyzstan-El Diamante High School
Vladimir-Kazakhstan-Tulare Western
Ani-Armenia-Mount Whitney High School
Krystyna-Ukraine-Tulare Union
Kamila- Kazakhstan-Mount Whitney High School
Lilit-Armenia-Hanford High
Aleksandre-Georgia-Tulare Western
Aneela-Pakistan               -Redwood High School
Srishty-India-Sierra Pacific High
Andrey-Tajikistan-Hanford West
Zuhro-Tajikistan-Hanford West
Niso-Tajikistan-Mount Whitney High School       
Zarina-Kyrgyzstan-Exter High School
Madina-Kazakhstan-Tulare Union High School
Dmytro-Ukraine-Mission Oak High School
Azniv-Armenia-Golden West
Lidia-Moldova-Hanford West

Thursday, May 9, 2013

John Mettler - Lending A Helping Hand.

I want to share a moment with you. Last night, early this morning really, I had the great chance of meeting two people who just went through a sad moment in their life. Victims of a fire. The humor and time I spent with them is one for memory. Their attitude was wonderful, they joked with me and each other and are able to pick themselves up and strive forward. There was no depression, crying or feeling sorry for themselves. It made what this job is all about. It gave me a new insight to the good side of people. They helped each other and allowed us to help them. I thank God I was able to experience this moment. I hope the other team members learned from this. Not all disasters have to be depressing, weird as it sounds they can be fun. Sadly the fire was not their fault, so I pray God will wrap His healing hand around them and help them. An experience I appreciate.

My hopes is that everyone will know, disasters have many parts. Life, death, dismay or confusion but every once in a while you are able to experience dismay with humor and how the victims are able to beat the odds of the cards that were dealt them. Yes, they have a lot work ahead but they will survive because of their attitude. And this is what gives us hope and lets us want to do our job better, and open our spirit to their needs.

If you would like to join John and become a Red Cross volunteer, please visit or call (661) 324-6427.

John Mettler, Disaster Action Team Volunteer
Kern Chapter, Bakersfield CA

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

World Red Cross Day

This day marks the birth of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent network's founder, Jean Henri Dunant, who began to advocate for the humane treatment of the sick and wounded during the Battle of Solferino in 1859. The Red Cross Red Crescent is at the foundation of international humanitarian action and of modern international humanitarian law. In 1863, Henry Dunant’s ideas, presented in his landmark book A memory of Solferino, were transformed into reality with the creation of the ICRC and the establishment of the first National Societies, followed in 1864 by the adoption of the First Geneva Convention. Today, his ideas remain pillars for the Movement, giving it strength and purpose.

This year we are celebrating 150 years of humanitarian actionToday the global Red Cross and Red Crescent network is the world's largest humanitarian network comprised of more than 13 million volunteers and assists more than 300 million people worldwide each year. Over the past decade, Red Cross Red Crescent volunteers and staff have supported more than 160 million people in emergency response, ranging from disaster to civil unrest. Together and building on each other's strengths, our 187 Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies, the IFRC and the ICRC mobilize the power of humanity – to help people prepare for, respond to and recover from crisis – now and well into the future.

On this day, let's remember our roots and spread Dunant's vision of the Red Cross' seven fundamental principles: humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality.

Jean Henri Dunant (May 8, 1828 – October 30, 1910)

Ten Interesting Things You Didn't Know About Henri Dunant:

  1. At the age of 19 Dunant founded the so-called "Thursday Association", a band of young men that met to study the Bible and help the poor.
  2. He spent much of his free time engaged in prison visits and social work.
  3. He was kicked out of college for bad grades.
  4. In 1867 he was forced to declare bankruptcy after a scandal involving the financial firm he directed, Crédit Genevois. 
  5. He was staunchly against slavery and his idol was Harriet Beecher Stowe. He got to meet her when she visited Geneva. 
  6. Clara Barton and Florence Nightingale were his inspiration for establishing an organization concerned with the alleviation of human suffering. 
  7. Gustave Moynier was among the original 5 that helped Dunant start the International Red Cross, but later in life he and Dunant became archenemies. 
  8. He was from a family of devoted Calvinists, but later he spurned organized religion.
  9. The first ever Nobel Peace Prize went to Henri Dunant in 1901 for his role in founding the International Red Cross movement and initiating the Geneva Convention. He never spent any of his 104,000 Swiss Francs prize money.
  10. In his will, he donated funds to secure a "free bed" in the Heiden nursing home always to be available for a poor citizen of the region.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Restoring Family Links

This past Friday I had the privilege of meeting with Restoring Family Links (RFL) mentor, Mike Farrar. Mike is one of 14 RFL mentors in the nation and works out of the Long Beach Chapter. He heard from National Headquarters about the grant that the Central Valley Region received for World Refugee Day on June 20th.  Being one of the only RFL caseworkers in the region, I was thrilled to have him come by and give me guidance on how to maximize the use of the grant money and how to get the Restoring Family Links program operating in our region.

Restoring Family Links is a program of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). It is a program designed to reunite family members separated internationally due to armed conflict, migration or disaster. The ICRC and the American Red Cross work together to locate people and put them back into contact with their relatives. The attached map shows what areas throughout the nation have active RFL programs.

In the Central Valley we have a large immigrant and refugee population, which we have yet to serve in this capacity and, in order to serve in this capacity, we need trained volunteers. Mike Farrar has generously volunteered his time to conduct a RFL Caseworker training at our Fresno office. If you, or anyone you know, is interested in participating in this training please contact Cayce Baierski: or 559-455-1000.