Friday, April 17, 2015

National Volunteer Week Profile: Semien Hagos

by David Warren, volunteer contributor

Semien Hagos was introduced to the American Red Cross much the way many others are – in the wake of a disastrous event that leaves one staggering to recover.

Hagos was 7 when flames swept through the Section 8 housing complex where she lived in Dallas. While the apartment she shared with her parents and sister was relatively unscathed, the apartments around her were left uninhabitable. Her neighbors were forced from their homes.

As firefighters stamped out hotspots, Red Cross volunteers arrived with food, blankets and toys for the children. “That was something that was always ingrained in my head,” said Hagos, who’s now 18.

The memory remained with her as she entered Lake Highlands High School looking to expand on the community service work she had done elsewhere. So she reached out to the Red Cross North Texas Region for some guidance and soon after launched a Red Cross Club at her school. Before long, more than 140 other students had joined her to organize a blood drive and various fundraisers on behalf of the Red Cross.

“We’re always thinking of doing small things that could go viral at our school,” she said, be it a drink stand or “valentines for heroes” campaign that reaches out to military personnel abroad.

It seems Hagos -- armed with fine grades, a long list of extracurricular work and enough after-school jobs to fill a resume – is always on the run. Appropriately enough, she’s a captain of her high school cross-country and track teams.

The Red Cross’ Sonya Goodwin has worked with Hagos and says the teen has “distinguished herself as a dedicated, creative and driven leader.” The Red Cross Club at Lake Highlands, Goodwin said, “allows youth to demonstrate leadership skills while serving their community.”

Hagos talks confidently of her future. She’s gathered scholarships and grants that will pay for her schooling at the University of Arkansas. She may want to study industrial psychology but she sees herself more likely launching a career in business.

She speaks excitedly of becoming a Razorback and what her life holds for her. It’s easy to forget the hardship that could have drowned her ambition and hopes.

Her parents struggled to scrape together money to support their two daughters after immigrating from Ethiopia. The burden grew heavier when her father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, growing progressively weaker and ultimately succumbing to the disease when Hagos was 13. Her mother was beset by illnesses before ovarian cancer was discovered. She died in January.

The bond with her sister, 22-year-old Rama, tightened during those years. “She raised me because she’s older, but we really raised each other,” Hagos said.

She remembers her parents for their sacrifice. “My parents fought for the life we have today,” she said, explaining that they often stressed the importance of education.

“They left their family and everything they knew (in Ethiopia) just so we could have a better life,” she said.

She expresses her appreciation for the support of friends, neighbors and others in the Lake Highlands section of Dallas. Over the years people there extended a hand to steady her, kind of in the way the Red Cross reaches into communities to provide its own comfort.

When Hagos says the Red Cross Club at her school has “brought people together,” she could just as well be talking more broadly about the Red Cross organization. The Red Cross first introduced itself to Hagos when she was a young girl, and she’s not inclined to let the relationship soon end.

“It’s not something I’m willing to let go of,” she said.

Join Semien and more than 7,000 other humanitarians as part of the American Red Cross volunteer corps here in North Texas this National Volunteer Week. Start your Red Cross story at RedCross.org/Volunteer. To learn more about starting a Red Cross Club at your school, visit RedCross.org.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Top Ten Reasons to Download the New, Free Red Cross Emergency App


Today, we're super excited to introduce our newest mobile app, the all-in-one Emergency App! It combines all of our previous preparedness apps into one all-inclusive app! Why should you download it? Glad you asked!

1. IT’S FREE. Who wouldn’t want free 24/7 protection with emergency alerts and safety information? 
2. MONITOR FRIENDS AND FAMILY. Parents, rejoice. The “Family Safe” feature lets you know if your loved ones are okay, even if they don’t have the app.
3. EYE CANDY. Customize your weather alerts in various locations with photos of the loved one, or furry four-legged family member who lives there. 
4. WORKS ANYWHERE IN THE U.S. You can set 35 different emergency alerts to monitor multiple locations anywhere in the U.S.
5. PLAN AND PREPARE. The “Make a Plan” feature helps families plan out what to do and where to go if a disaster strikes.
6. HABLAMOS ESPAÑOL. Easily toggle between English and Spanish to use the language you’re most comfortable with in a stressful situation.
7. NO CONNECTION, NO PROBLEM. If you can’t connect, you can still access the pre-loaded preparedness and response information from Red Cross experts.
8. MAP IT OUT. Love maps? This app lets you overlay people, places, weather alerts, and open Red Cross shelters.
9. BE A GOOD SON (OR DAUGHTER). Don’t wait for your mom to get her alert and ask if you’re okay. Ping her directly with the touch of a button using the “I’m Safe” feature.
10. TORNADO SIREN. It’s loud. It’s awesome. It could save your life. 

The free app can be downloaded by searching EMERGENCY in the app store on your smartphone or tablet or by going to redcross.org/apps. (PS: Yes! It will even work on your new Apple Watch!) And while apps can help prepared someone for disasters, it’s important to remember that downloading any of the Red Cross apps is not a substitute for training. To learn more about or register for Red Cross First Aid and CPR/AED courses, visit redcross.org/TakeAClass.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

National Volunteer Week Profile: Eric Klein

by David Warren, volunteer contributor

Volunteer Eric Klein is presented with a commendation award
for his excellent service.
Every office has that go-to person who makes the day hum. When a problem crops up – be it a computer that swallows valuable disaster assessments or a complex data set that requires analysis – this colleague usually has the solution.

And so it is with Eric Klein, a volunteer partner for the American Red Cross North Texas Region.  He can be found huddling over maps, coordinating disaster services and, as he explains it, utilizing “geospatial tools.”

But for his supervisor, Rosemary Mote, disaster program officer, American Red Cross North Texas region, Klein’s importance is much more broadly defined. “Everyone knows to ask Eric,” she said. “He’ll know, or he can find out.”

Klein, 64, began volunteering for the Red Cross in 2008, answering a call to help with preparations ahead of Hurricane Ike’s arrival on the Gulf Coast. He had spent 30 years with IBM but was restless in retirement and the Red Cross proved to be an ideal outlet for his energy and analytical mind.

“There’s a lot of different roles you can take on,” he said of the agency. “It’s a big organization so there’s a lot of different work you can do, a lot of opportunity to learn new things.”


Klein uses Geographic Information Systems and other applications to plan for impending disasters while coordinating needs both regionally and beyond. He determines tornado paths, road conditions and other hazards to smooth the aid the Red Cross provides. He also serves on the regional Disaster Management Team and works as a disaster services instructor, passing on his experience to others.

“He passionately supports the mission by supporting those who are on the front lines,” Mote said of Klein, recipient of the 2014 North Texas Region Clara Barton Honor Award.

She said he also uses census information to determine population, housing and other demographic information to help determine how damaging a disaster may prove to be, and better assess the relief that will be needed.

“We just count on Eric being around and know that he will do it for us,” she said.

Most recently, Eric joined the Digital Volunteer Team, using his skills to help set up complex keyword searches on Radian6 so digital volunteers can monitor social media conversations during disasters and relay relevant information to a disaster response team. It's just one more use of the wealth of his knowledge and generosity of his time.

Klein, who’s a Dallas resident, says he brings an analytical approach to his work and the Red Cross benefits from many others who offer a variety of strengths.

“What makes the organization work is not having people with identical skills but different complementary skills,” he said.

This National Volunteer Week, we salute volunteers like Eric that make our organization go. Volunteers make up more than 90% of the Red Cross work force. Join Eric & start your Red Cross story today. Visit RedCross.org/Volunteer to get started! 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Severe Weather in Texas—How to Prepare

by Suzanne Wiley, volunteer contributor 

An old neighbor of mine—our houses three miles northeast of downtown Forth Worth—recounts the March 28, 2000 Fort Worth Tornado. She says, “The air was so still and the sky was green. It was quiet. Eerily quiet at first. A few pieces of paper were flying around the street. Then I heard it. We went inside and took shelter. After it was over, there was paper everywhere, covering the yard like there had been a heavy snowfall. Yeah, it was scary. Terrifying, really.”

Ten tornadoes hit North Texas that night. The Fort Worth Tornado ripped through neighborhoods in River Oaks, Camp Bowie and West 7th and then right through downtown. The Cash America Building, the Calvary Cathedral and the Bank One Building all sustained damaged. The Bank One building lost 3,000 windows. Two people died while trying to seek shelter. Eighty others were injured.

Though it doesn’t feel like it with winter making its last—and late—hoorah in North Texas, March 1 marked the start of meteorological spring. We face three months of the most unpredictable and possibly the most devastating weather of the year. In fact, long-range forecasts predict that March and April in Texas will be rainier and stormier than normal. Paul Patelok, who is a lead long-range forecaster at AccuWeather.com says, “I think we’re going to have a lot more tornadoes for the spring season compared to the last couple of years…”

In Texas, we don’t worry about just tornadoes, but also severe lighting, thunder and hail storms that can cause significant damage and even death. Time to get you and your family prepared for the upcoming spring storms.

Hail
Hailstorms happen when a thunderstorm produces hail 5 millimeters in diameter—a dime is twice that size—or larger. Texas sits in the “Hail Belt,” an area that experiences the worst hailstorms in the country. In 1995, a horrible hailstorm hit Fort Worth’s May Fest, causing $2 million dollars in damage and injuring 100 people. In March 2000, a softball-sized hailstone hit a 19-year-old man from Lake Worth, Texas, killing him

Preparing for Hailstorms

There is not much you can do to prepare for hailstorms, besides keeping your vehicle in the garage all season and walking around wearing a football helmet, but when hail hits, go inside and remain inside until the hailstorm is over. If you are outside, seek shelter under a picnic pavilion, gazebo or sturdy awning or inside a store, bathroom or other structure. Once inside, close the blinds and curtains to protect yourself from breaking glass. If you are in your car, pull over and turn away from the windshield, while covering yourself with a blanket or coat.

Flooding
There are two main types of floods—overland floods and flash floods. In North Texas, our greatest risk is flash flooding. A flash flood occurs when the city’s drainage system cannot drain heavy rains fast enough. Floods happen quickly and are hard to predict. They are the cause of the most weather-related deaths in America—mostly due to people believing floodwaters are passable. Remember—Turn Around! Don’t Drown! It only takes 18 inches of water to float away a regular sedan-sized car.

Preparing for a Flood

Floods have the potential to contaminate city water supplies, so store enough drinking water for drinking and personal hygiene. The absolute minimum requirement is one gallon of water per person per day. A flood has the possibility to force you to evacuate your home. Download the Red Cross Flood app for flood alerts and to locate your nearest shelter. (http://www.redcross.org/prepare/mobile-apps/flood)

Lightning
Lightning is the electrostatic discharge from the electrically charged area between a cloud and the surface of the Earth and occurs in all thunderstorms. On average, lightning kills 300 Americans a year.

Preparing for a Lightning Storm

When you hear thunder or see lightning, go inside or seek shelter in a concrete building or structure. If you are camping, hiking or otherwise far from shelter, crouch down—don’t lay down—wrap your arms around your knees and keep your head down. For more on what do during a lightning storm, read “The Importance of Practicing Lightning Safety.” (http://redcrossdallas.blogspot.com/2014/06/lightning-safety.html)

Thunderstorms
There are four types of thunderstorms, classified by their severity. North Texas experiences all of them. We are mostly concerned with multi-cell cluster, multi-cell line and supercell thunderstorms—all of which have the ability to produce tornadoes. Prepare for a severe thunderstorm, the same way you a tornado.

Tornadoes
A tornado forms when updrafts of warm, humid air create a high-speed whirlwind. This rotating whirlwind or rotating cloud then forms a tornado when it reaches the ground. The United States experiences an average 1,200 tornadoes a year, with May through June being the peak time. Oddly, even though tornadoes can occur any time of the day, they most likely happen between 3 and 9 pm.

Preparing for Tornadoes and Thunderstorms
The first thing you need to know is the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning. A Tornado watch is when conditions are suitable to produce a tornado. A warning means a tornado has been confirmed in your area. If your area is under a tornado warning, it is time to put your family emergency plan in place immediately.

If you are away from a radio or newscast, know the signs of a tornado. You might see clouds moving towards each other or rotating, flying debris, a green or green-black sky, hail, wall cloud or hear the sound like a freight train. When you see any of those signs, seek shelter right away.
To prepare for a severe thunderstorm or tornado establish a “safe room” in your home. If you live in a mobile home—no room inside is safe. For those who live in mobile homes, you should seek shelter elsewhere or build an underground storm shelter outside the home.

Your safe room should be an interior room without windows on the lowest floor, and as far away from outside walls as possible. This could be a closet, bathroom or even the room under your stairs. Many apartments and smaller homes have no rooms that have only interior walls. Some experts believe that bathrooms, due to the pipes surrounding it have added protection—possibly more so than a closet. If your bathroom is the only safe room in the house, when there is a threat of tornado, get into the bathroom, and cover yourself with a mattress or heavy blankets.

FEMA suggests the room you pick should have enough room for everyone in the family to stand comfortably for two hours. Be sure to accommodate any elderly or disabled family members. If you care for someone with special needs, put a chair in your safe room.


You need to stock your safe room with essential and emergency supplies:


  • Bottled water
  • Necessary and emergency medications—inhalers, oxygen, aspirin, insulin, EpiPen, etc.
  • Helmets for children
  • Sturdy shoes for every family member
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight
  • Emergency weather alert radio
  • Cell phone
  • Signaling device, such as a whistle
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Work gloves
  • Batteries
  • Babies’ needs such as formula and diapers


The American Red Cross has readiness items such as signal whistles, flashlights and disasters kits ranging from the basics to a four-person, three-day survival kit.

If you are on the road or far from a sturdy structure, do not pull over and hide under an overpass. This is a myth! Experts agree that an overpass is actually one of the most unsafe places to seek shelter during a tornado. Instead, pull over, get in a low-lying area like a ditch, and cover your head. If you absolutely have no other choice but to stay in the car, keep your seat belt on, roll up all the windows, bend down as far as you can below the windows and cover your head with a blanket or any other material you have.

For all the information on tornado preparedness, download the Red Cross tornado warning app.

We want to hear from you! Share your storm stories in the comment section below.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The New 9-1-1: How the Red Cross Uses Social Media in Disaster Response

by Ryan Wilcox, volunteer contributor

When you need help, whom do you call? Do you use social media to tell your friends when you have a problem?


According to a study conducted by the American Red Cross in 2012, more Americans are using social media in emergencies than ever before. In fact, mobile apps and social media are tied as the fourth most popular source of information during a disaster.

A Milestone

In response to this shift in the public’s use of technology, Red Cross DFW partnered with Dell to open a Digital Operations Center in 2014. The first of its kind outside Washington D.C., the DigiDOC has improved our ability to listen, and respond quickly. It’s modeled after Dell’s state-of-the-art Social Media Listening Command Center, and employs Radian6, a social listening and management tool.

In honor of the anniversary, we hosted a collection of staff, volunteers and communications professionals from local businesses for a tour. As a volunteer myself, I found the presentation impressive. It offered an up close look at the social strategy of the Red Cross, as well as a behind-the-curtain view of the DigiDOC.

Mona Charif, VP of Marketing and Communications for Dell Services, was the keynote speaker. “It’s the new 9-1-1,” Charif said when discussing social media’s role in crisis situations.

In 2015, the expectation is to be able to post something on a personal social media account, and receive help quickly — 76% expect help to arrive within three hours. This new expectation has led to a shift in the way relief agencies respond to disasters.

Social Strategy and Impact

Anita Foster, Regional Chief Communications Officer for Red Cross North Texas region, led the group up to the DigiDOC to conclude the tour. It is a mix of HD displays, maps and social media analytics; and provides a detailed look at all social media activity related to weather events. The American Red Cross gets over 4,000 mentions per day, and the DigiDOC helps our digital team stay on top of it all.

It’s an amazing time to be a volunteer. You can be an advocate, and make a measurable difference, using only your smartphone.

We use digital volunteers, or #DigiVols, to monitor and respond to requests for help, and information. Our team provides action steps you can use to get help quickly. We also thank our supporters, because even a donation of a pint of blood saves three lives. It all makes a difference.

Here's an example of this strategy in action:



We’re excited about the new ways social media is being used in disaster response. Have you received help from the Red Cross on social media?

Tell us about it in the comments, or on Twitter @RedCrossDFW.

Be a #RedCrosser

You can help the digital team fulfill our mission.

Do you think you would be a good digital volunteer? Our digital volunteers play a key role in disaster response, listening to social media to provide helpful information, or just a simple thank you. Go to RedCross.org/DFW to get started.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Saving Lives by #GivingWhatFireTakes

by Suzanne Wiley, volunteer contributor

A Red Cross volunteer installs a smoke detector in Arlington, TX
as part of the Home Fire Preparedness Campaign.
To those of you who have never been affected by a home fire, it is incredibly difficult to describe how devastating it is to assess the damage left behind. Sometimes all that is left behind is the clothes on your back and a smoldering charred pile of wood and shingles. I will never forget the first time I saw a home damaged by fire. In a matter of seconds, the entire living room was a complete loss. Black, and dark and damp. Puddles from the firefighters’ hoses stood like it had just rained. And it might as well could have—there was no roof left.

For many, there is little hope of ever replacing everything that was lost. I have witnessed that on top of the shock, adrenaline, stress and the frightening realization of “what’s next?”  there is a profound hope seen in the faces of families who just experienced a home fire—relief that everyone and the pet made it out safely.

Every eight minutes, the American Red Cross responds to a home fire. Michaela Curtis Tweeted, “When a fire takes a home, it’s a disaster” and that is why when a home burns, the Red Cross is there.

Unless you have been a victim of a house fire yourself, you may not be aware this service exists. All over the United States, at any given time, hundreds of Red Cross volunteers are on call to bring relief to families affected by fire. Because of generous donations from people just like you, the Red Cross provides lodging, comfort care kits and replacement clothing to those who have lost everything in a fire.

Volunteers headed to Arlington to educate North Texans about
fire safety as part of the Home Fire Preparedness Campaign.
On February 4, 2015, the Red Cross launched a new nationwide campaign to help prevent home fires. All over the country, volunteers and Red Cross team members are going door to door installing free smoke detectors to families that need them. On March 28, 2015, the Dallas Fort Worth area chapter stepped out along with members of the Arlington fire department and volunteers from FEMA Corp to canvass a neighborhood in Arlington particularly at risk for fatal home fires. The target? 1,000 homes in six hours.

This same campaign has already saved 11 lives. I am proud to say that I witnessed at least eight smoke detector installations that day—potentially saving at least an additional 15 more people.

With so many willing volunteers and community involvement, The Red Cross is well on its way to meeting its goal of reducing the number of deaths and injuries due to home fires by 25 percent in the next five years with this home fire safety campaign. Besides providing free smoke detectors, teams all across the country are also providing pamphlets and discussing fire safety and prevention while visiting with families.

Stressing the importance of a fire escape plan, everyone we met was receptive to the important fire safety information we were handing out. Arlington Battalion Chief, Mike Shoemaker, who joined my team, said, “Take this seriously.”

Though home fires is a somber topic, I am happy to say that judging by all the smiles on my team members’ faces, as well as the smiles on the faces of the folks we were helping, we were all glad we were in it together, making a difference—#GivingWhatFireTakes

To prepare your own family, develop a fire escape plan, make sure you have working smoke alarms and practice a family fire drill at least once a year.

For more on fire safety, click here.

How are you and your family prepared for a fire? Share your story with us in the comment section below.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

How Can You Be A Force Of Nature?

by Carmen Wright, volunteer contributor
As we have all experienced in the last few weeks, weather patterns in Texas can be unpredictable. Prepare yourself for all the severe weather we see here in North Texas—tornadoes, droughts, flooding, and even snowstorms—by joining the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) campaign to  “Be a Force of Nature” by taking the following steps:


STAY INFORMED:



•    Visit www.weather.gov
This site has it all: an interactive map of the U.S. that provides forecast for the entire country or just your little corner of Texas; active alerts so you know what is going on right now; maps showing air quality and rainfall; maps of weather history; radar of current weather systems and other data.

•    Check out STATE OF THE CLIMATE
I admit I did not know this site existed, but now that I know I’ve turned into a complete weather nerd. It provides helpful summaries, maps, and graphs of weather trends in the U.S. You can read the report for January 2015 and see how we started the year or go back and see national monthly percent area for drought since 1900!

•    Follow weather on Social Media
Let’s be honest; if you can have time to follow tweets for #foodiebandnames (one of my favorites is Nine Inch Kales), then you have time in your life for helpful tweets from the National Weather Service and NOAA.

•    Get the Red Cross Tornado App
Get real-time tornado alerts and warnings on your phone, take a quiz to see how prepared you are, get access to 63 years of tornado history, and learn what to do before, during and after a tornado.


PREPARE YOURSELF:



•    Make a disaster supply kit
At the very least this should include one gallon of water per person per day for three days, flashlight, three-day supply of non-perishable food, whistle, first aid kit, battery powered or hand-cranked radio, a NOAA radio, extra batteries, wrench or pliers, local map, moist toilettes, manual can opener, and cell phone with charger.

Have a Family Emergency Plan
 Being prepared is great, but make sure you have communicated plans to family members on where to go for safety, how you will contact each other, how you will find each other, and what you will do in different situations.  Also consider your bigger family: your community. If your work, school, or place of worship does not have an emergency plan, volunteer to help create one. Finally, don’t forget to include your pets in your plans!

LIVE LONG and BE PREPARED! 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Surviving a Flood

 by Carol Grinage, volunteer contributor


How do you survive a flood? What do you do when the flood warnings that never materialize turn into an actual flood?

If a flood hits your area, stay informed. Listen to your local radio or television to hear what is happening in your area. If you don’t have local radio or television, check the internet or social media sites for the latest information. These sources can tell you how serious the flood is and where to go if you need to seek safety. They can also tell you who to contact if you need help.

Next, get to higher ground. Do not wait. Higher ground will provide you with the protection you need from flood waters. If you wait, you may not be able to reach higher ground because you will be surround by flood waters.

If authorities tell you to evacuate, please obey the evacuation orders. If you are being told to evacuate, you are being told to evacuate for a reason. You may not be able to see the flood where you are located, but the authorities see a wider picture and know what flooding has occurred in surrounding areas and what flooding is heading your way. When you evacuate your home, remember to lock the doors and, if you have time, unplug utilities and appliances.

Remember that water and electricity do not mix, so practice electrical safety. Stay out of flood waters that has electricity in it. How do you know if water has electricity in it? If you see sparks or hear buzzing, cracking or snapping, these are signs that the water has been electrified and that you must not go near it. Also, don’t enter basements or any rooms in which the water covers the electrical outlets because the water could be electrified.

If you have been ordered to evacuate, avoid flood waters. Do not walk through flood waters because even 6 inches of water can knock you off your feet. If you are trapped in moving water, move to the highest point and wait for help.

Also, do not drive through flooded waters or around barricades. Quite often, people get into dangerous situations because it is impossible to see sharp objects, washed out road surfaces, electrical wires or chemicals that may be in the water. In addition, cars can be swept away in seconds. Twelve inches of water can float a car or SUV, and 18 inches of water can carry away large vehicles. So, although flood waters may not appear deep, they can hold a host of dangers.

Although floods don’t appear serious on the surface, they can be quite deadly. Take the time to prepare, and remember what to do if a flood hits where you live.

Download our free Flood App to get up to the minute information on what to do in the event of a flood in your area.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Repost: After the Military, a Call of Duty to His Community

This story was originally published in the Wall Street Journal, March 15, 2015.

After the Military, a Call of Duty to His Community

A former Navy base commander now serves the Red Cross in Texas

T.D. Smyers says ‘there is a lot of crossover’ between the Navy and the Red Cross.
T.D. Smyers says ‘there is a lot of crossover’ between the Navy and the Red Cross.PHOTO: CINDY REDEMANN

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A Life of Service—The Jane Delano Story

by Suzanne Wiley, volunteer contributor
 
Before the successes of Oprah Winfrey, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, there were hundreds of women who broke the glass ceiling before the concept existed. Though these women were changing the world, at the time, their accomplishments and stories were not as diligently reported as many of America’s greatest men. With the help of Women’s History Month, now in its 35th year, we bring these courageous, smart and determined women’s tales back to life, rewriting history when the text books have left so many of these women’s names out. We weave these women’s stories because they are the fabric foundation of women’s stories today.

One of these notable women is Jane Delano—one of the most famous nurses in history. Jane accomplished a lot throughout her professional career as a nurse, taking on multiple roles at once, however, her most significant achievement started out with a little white lie.
Jane Delano signed up for the Army Nurse Corps, but because she was older than the 45 year old age limit to join, she left her age off the application. And good thing, too, as Jane is credited with saving the failing Army Nurse Corps program. Through her idea of marrying the Army Nurse Corps with the American Red Cross Nursing Service and the American Nurses Association, Jane recruited 8,000 nurses ready to deploy and serve before the United States entered World War I. Her joint program enlisted and trained over 20,000 nurses who served during the war. Because of Jane’s dedication to service, she paved the way for the over 370,000 nurses who have volunteered for the American Red Cross.

Born in 1862 in Montour Falls, New York, Jane started her professional life teaching school before she felt the calling to become a nurse. At 24, she finished nurse training at America’s oldest, continuously operating hospital’s nurse training school, Bellevue in New York City. Bellevue Training School was the first in the United States to adopt and teach Florence Nightingale’s principal teachings. At the time, nursing was still young in establishing standards and being recognized as a profession.

After graduating from Bellevue, she took the position of superintendent of nurses at Sandhills Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida during a yellow fever epidemic. It is at Sandhills where Jane’s legacy begins. At the time, it was only a theory that some scientists believed that yellow fever was spread through mosquitoes. While at Sandhills, Jane hung screens and mosquito nets around the patients’ areas and nurses’ sleeping quarters.

Jane joined the Red Cross in 1898 during the Spanish-American War working as secretary for the enrollment of nurses. Before deciding to join the Red Cross full time in 1912, Jane was
•    Superintendent of nurses at University Hospital in Philadelphia
•    Superintendent at the House of Refuge
•    Superintendent of the Training School at Bellevue Hospital
•    President of the Associated Alumnae
•    President of the Board of Directors of the American Journal of Nursing
•    Chairmanship of the American Red Cross Nursing Service
•    Superintendent of the Army Nurse Corps
•    Worked for the Surgeon General

About her decision, Jane said, “I would rather live on a crust and serve the Red Cross than do anything else in the world.”

After the war, Jane traveled to France to visit her enlisted nurses. She was sick from chronic mastoiditis—an infection of the mastoid bone in the skull originating from a middle ear infection. Jane Delano passed away on April 15, 1919 and was buried in the military cemetery in Savenay, France. Nearly a year later, her body was exhumed and returned to the United States to be buried in the nurses’ plot in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. She was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. 500 people attended her funeral. It is said that Jane’s last words were, “I must get back to work.”

The Red Cross is synonymous with nursing and much of the humanitarian organization’s history is founded on nursing services. Jane’s memory is honored through the Jane Delano Student Nurse Scholarship.

If you are a nurse and wish to volunteer with the Red Cross, please visit the volunteer nurses’ page.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Day Light Savings = Great Time to Check Smoke Alarms



by Catherine Carlton @ckecarlton, volunteer contributor

Day light savings means we spring forward an hour, we start moving toward more daylight each day and that it’s time to check your smoke alarms.
Day light savings is a great time twice a year to test the batteries in the smoke alarms.
Checking the batteries is an easy task and can save a life.
Here’s why it’s important
·         Home fires kills more than 2,500 people annually
·         Fire departments response to more than 360,000 home fires annually
·         Cooking fires account for 43 percent of the fires
·         Nearly two-thirds of all fire-related deaths are in homes with no functioning smoke alarms
·         Working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in home fires by half
·         The U.S. Fire Administration recommends dual sensor alarms
As you walk around your house to adjust the clocks forward this weekend, also walk around your house and test your fire alarms. If you have a neighbor who is elderly or disabled, offer to check theirs, too.
For more information, on how to prepare your family for a home fire, please visit us online