Thursday, May 8, 2014

Red Cross Nurses: Leading the Way For 125 Years

by Kenton M. Pitts, volunteer contributor

Florence Nightingale once said, “I am of certain convinced that the greatest heroes are those who do their duty in the daily grind of domestic affairs.” I can think of no better way to describe the selfless sacrifice of nurses across the globe. How fitting it is to honor her, the founder of modern nursing, and to celebrate nurses everywhere during National Nurses Week, May 6 through May 12, 2014.     

Red Cross Nurses have been
an important part of our mission
for 125 years.
As a volunteer of The American Red Cross, I want to applaud the accomplishments of nurses and extend my heartfelt appreciation for their hard work, sacrifices and dedication to their profession. Nurses have been a key part of the Red Cross since the Yellow Fever epidemic of 1888 and the Johnstown floods in 1889. Today, more than 15,000 nurses continue to serve.

Phyllis Norman is a nurse and Regional Nurse Lead of North Texas Disaster Health Services (DHS). After over forty years in nursing she is still giving, sacrificing and leading the way. She recruits trains and coaches nurses and EMTs to perform Disaster Health Service functions and disaster operations.  

Disaster Health Services deals with people affected by a disaster. Whether it’s a single family fire, a tornado devastating an entire neighborhood, a wildfire or a flood, Disaster Health Services responds to help. They help clients replace lost prescription medicines, glasses, dentures and also are a resource for other types of assistance.

Registered nurses in DHS also focus on the health of the volunteer workers to be sure they are matched with a volunteer job they are physically able to do and to make sure they don’t place themselves at risk or aggravate a medical condition.

As a long time nurse administrator and Chief Nursing Officer at Harris Methodist Fort Worth and Harris Methodist Southwest, Nurse Norman is well trained in hiring and staff development. In her role with the Red Cross, one of the most rewarding aspects of the job is to watch people develop their skills as a volunteer and learn how to bring resources together to help people in need. 

“It’s great to watch volunteers become independent and feel good about themselves and to see them mentor new volunteers that are just getting started," said Norman.

She became interested in volunteering for the Red Cross before Hurricane Katrina. “At first it was hard to get fully engaged while I was working full time. Later, after I retired I decided to get more involved and learned how to do so. I completed additional training and even went to other regions to get more training.”

One special memory is of a client in Fort Worth. The client’s son was killed in an earthquake in Haiti. Nurse Norman, a mental health professional and a case worker went to Fort Worth to meet the client to determine the best way to help her. The Red Cross was able to provide financial assistance to the client and Nurse Norman established a deep connection with her. The team helped the client get through a very difficult time.

“If I could talk to nurses across our region I’d ask them, 'what is really important?' Is it working all the extra overtime hours to get the extra dollars or is it giving back to the community you are a part of?" Norman said. "You can make a difference in someone’s life.”  

Nurse Phyllis Norman is a nurse leading the way. If you are a nurse or nursing student looking to make a difference, celebrate National Nurses Week by joining her at the Red Cross!


  1. Thank you for posting this article about the volunteer nursing roles with the Red Cross. I also enjoyed reading the history of Nurse Norman.

  2. We're so glad you enjoyed the story!


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