Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A funny thing happened on the way to get married...

I recently traveled to Brazil to get married, but the night before I found my soon-to-be, father-in-law, Paulo, in a bind. He owns a private technical school and the professor who teaches about jobs in the oil industry was not able to make it. A wonderful gift I received working for the Red Cross is to be like water and adjust easily to situations. I offered to give a CDE (Community Disaster Education) presentation as I normally would with Daya, my fiance, translating. I also modified the disaster kit presentation and plan for people who might work on oil platforms. Arriving at the school I was a little nervous because I was not sure what to expect.

The school occupied six rooms on the second floor of a building above a pet supply store and a beauty parlor. As the students began making their way in, I was surprised not only at the varieties of ages, but at their appearances. I was expecting a rougher looking group. On the contrary, everyone was very nice and from all walks of life. There were even a few girls. With Daya's help, I began asking their names and why they wanted to work in the oil industry. They all had the same basic answer, opportunity. They all had different backgrounds, but everyone wanted a chance for a better life.

In my introduction, I explained I was American and asked if they had any questions. First, I was asked why I was there and then about the Red Cross. Talking about the Red Cross was not a problem. I told them about how the Red Cross was created, about how the international Red Cross is set up, about the various Red Cross symbols and about the origin of the Red Cross logo. I explained how we are not part of the government or attached to a religion. I was a bit surprised by the misinformation which existed, but I was glad I could give them a little better insight and understanding of the Red Cross.

Once all the questions and answers were out of the way I talked to them about disaster kits. The main thing being, it is common sense. I say this because no two people will have the exact same disaster kit. Everyone is different and so are kits. The idea is to have one, to be prepared. We give basic ideas, but it is up to the individual to make it their own.

This, of course, was not my average disaster preparedness talk, not only being in another country but trying to modify the kits for people who may work on oil platforms. I don’t know much about oil platforms, so I asked what other suggestions people had. We had a great discussion, not only about the disaster kit but about being prepared. Through it all I emphasized preparedness.

The students ended up staying late so we could finish. It was fulfilling talking to people who are willing to listen, people who maybe will be a little safer and prepared because I was given an opportunity to talk to them. By the time Daya and I got home, we were both tired. The next day we went to court and got married.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


With You-Know-Who on the loose, Harry Potter knows he needs to be prepared for disaster at all times—whether it is natural, man-made or death-eater induced. Lucky for him, he has the ultimate disaster kit.

Used with the right spell, Harry’s wand can serve a multitude of purposes including but not limited to:
  • Light source (Lumos)
  • Water producer (Aguamenti)
  • Scissors/Knife (Diffindo)
  • Fire creator (Incendio)
Wands can even serve as a personal nurse practitioner, showcasing impressive First Aid skills to combat even the worst curses:
  • Repairs injuries (Episkey)
  • Heimlich maneuver (Anapneo)
But even Harry Potter can’t tend to the sick or injured without proper training. Not to worry. Just because you didn’t get your Hogwarts letter doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. The Red Cross is here to help us muggles prepare for emergencies. Enroll in a Red Cross health and safety course today by calling 502-561-3605.

Also make sure you’re prepared for disaster by packing your kit ahead of time. For a full list of disaster kit items, go to www.redcross.org.

Before departing on a mission to save the wizarding world in “Deathly Hallows,” Harry packs up his basic needs along with a few special belongings. What special item(s) would you carry with you during a disaster? Post your comments below.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Serving those who Serve

Louisville Area Chapter Call Center

A Red Cross branch of service that is sometimes overlooked is Services to the Armed Forces--SAF for short. The American Red Cross is Congressionally chartered to provide emergency communications to members of the military. The basement of the Louisville Area Chapter is home to a call center where volunteers help military members everyday.

To give you a better idea of the help provided, here is a story about Rhonda Mitchell, the mother of a service member recently assisted.

In February of 2010, Rhonda's grandmother, Florence Whiteside took ill, falling into a coma. Concerned with her grandmother’s state, Rhonda contacted the Red Cross to help bring home her son, Anthony Flemister, a Staff Sergeant in the Air Force who was stationed in Okinawa, Japan. Rhonda and Anthony were very close to Florence as she helped raise them both.

Shortly after Anthony returned home, Florence made a miraculous recovery, and Anthony was able to spend time with her before returning to Japan.

Only a few months later, Florence’s sickness returned. On June 26, she passed away, and again the Red Cross was able to help Anthony return home in time to attend his great grandmother’s funeral.

To show their appreciation, both Rhonda and Anthony visited the call center on July 9 to thank Red Cross workers. Rhonda said that of the service they received from the Red Cross, she was most surprised by the follow-up calls from the call center and the empathy from the people she spoke with.

“It was really something to shout on a mountain top about,” she said. “The people act like they really care. They made sure my needs were met.”

To find out more about Red Cross Services to the Armed forces, go to www.redcross.org.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Need Help? There's an app for that.

Back in August, the American Red Cross hosted the Emergency Social Data Summit where emergency organizations gathered to discuss the usage of social media outlets during an emergency. Some tech savvy users have found that during times of need, shouting out to your Facebook friends or Twitter followers may get you help faster than a call to good 'ol 911.

While 911 is still the most endorsed form of action, experts agreed that social media outlets could be useful during emergencies. And for those of you attached to your smart phone, there may be a few apps out there that could prove to be life-saving investments.

Check out this article from CNN.com for a list of helpful tools/apps.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Lions, ninja’s and princesses oh my…

The Red Cross passed out close to 600 bags with candy and disaster preparedness brochures to kids attending the trick or treat at the Mall of St. Matthews and Oxmoor Mall Halloween night.

It was the second year I participated, and it was interesting, as always. It never ceases to amaze me the ingenuity of kids or how something as simple as a piece of candy can bring joy to a child’s face. Although we passed out candy, it wasn’t all for the kids.

We also passed out Halloween safety tips, fire safety brochures (October is fire safety month) along with brochures for making a plan and making a kit.

Overall it was a great experience and something I hope the Red Cross continues. Along with the candy the kids received, I hope the parents took home with them the understanding of the importance of being prepared for disasters and the knowledge that the Red Cross is here to help.