Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Red Cross Mascots Turn Out for a Day of Fun at the 2013 Derby Mascot Party!

Scrubby Bear posed for many a photo at the 2013 Derby Mascot Party

This past Sunday the Louisville Area Chapter mascots had the pleasure of participating in the 2013 Derby Mascot Party at Kroger Fest-a-Ville at Waterfront Park. Sunday’s theme was Family Day, and the Red Cross mascots were energetic and ready to give hugs and high fives and pose for photos.

However, with a temperature in the low-60s and occasional drizzles, there weren’t that many little ones out and about, but those that were received VIP attention from the mascots. The Red Cross was represented by Sudsy Sam, Scrubby Bear and Buddy Blood Drop.

More than 25 mascots were at the event, representing Louisville’s various organizations and businesses. In the absence of large groups to entertain, Sam, Scrubby and Buddy took to dancing and riding rides with the other mascots in between crowds. The public seemed to enjoy the silliness of seeing the three tumble down the Super Slide side by side and take turns on the carousel.

The day showcased mascot camaraderie and fun at its finest.

Sudsy Sam took a nasty spill on the wet grass while playing soccer with a group of kids. Watch out, Sam!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Volunteer Instructor Teaches Life-Saving Skills

Red Cross volunteer instructor Bob Dawson teaches First Aid, CPR and AED once a month at the Louisville Area Chapter. His most recent class took place last Tuesday, just one day after the Boston Marathon. While features on those who lost their lives in the explosions and reports of potential suspects flooded news broadcasts, another story crept into the spotlight. The first responders and law enforcement officials who acted quickly to help those injured. Trained officials were joined by everyday bystanders who rushed to help.

Bob has been teaching everyday people or “lay responders” as we call them at the Red Cross, since 1998 when he retired from LG&E. As a safety specialist, his job was to reinforce rules and regulations, but his ultimate goal was to motivate people to take charge of their own safety, much like he does now at the Red Cross.

“When we teach people to do First Aid and CPR, we encourage them to take charge of a scene—to step up and do something,” Bob said.

In all his years of being certified, Bob has never had to use CPR in his personal life but he knows that he could if needed. Even while working for LG&E, he was fortunate to not encounter a catastrophic injury. He attributes this to the availability of improved safety equipment and the fact that people are better informed and trained.

“The more people trained, the better chance everyone has to survive an incident,” he said. “There is a better chance of the emergency being recognized and care being given until EMS arrives. I think it saves lives.”

The Red Cross offers a variety of courses at various times during the week and on weekends making it easy for people to enroll or even teach as Bob does. Once monthly class schedules are released, he can choose which courses he is available to instruct based on his personal schedule.
 “When we teach people to do First Aid and CPR, we encourage them to take charge of a scene—to step up and do something.”
 As a retiree, Bob says volunteering offers personal fulfillment and helps give structure to his life. He recommends the role to others with a background in safety.

“If you’re going to be retired, you need to stay active,” he said. “One thing you can do is give back.”

Bob also enjoys having an opportunity to meet new people and learn from his students. He encourages them to ask questions and share personal experiences of instances when they needed to use First Aid, CPR or AED skills.

 “I’ve always enjoyed training,” Bob said. “It’s fun. When it stops being fun, I’ll stop doing it.”

To become a volunteer instructor, you need to be currently certified in First Aid, CPR and AED—adult and pediatric and complete a two-day Red Cross instructor course. Instructor training is offered at the Louisville Area Chapter every other month and in Lexington and Elizabethtown on the months in between. At the end of the course, participants take an exam to acquire Red Cross instructor certification. The cost of the course is $500, a fee that can be waived if a volunteer commits to teaching one class per month.

The next instructor training course is scheduled for 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. on May 9-10 at the Louisville Area Chapter. To register or to learn more, visit www.redcross.org/take-a-class.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Retiree makes a career in volunteer disaster response

Disaster Action Team Volunteer Joe Baird
When I met with Joe Baird late last year, he had just returned to the chapter from assisting families affected by an apartment fire. As a Disaster Action Team (DAT) member, Joe is a Red Cross first responder for disasters such as floods, tornadoes and winter storms. But the disasters he sees most are home fires.

“No one is prepared for disaster,” Joe said. “People seem to forget—it’s not if a disaster happens, it’s when.”

He recalled his first DAT run in 2011 which involved an apartment fire and affected multiple families. Upset and in shock, the residents aired their frustrations to him. Using the skills he learned in Red Cross Psychological First Aid, Joe listened and let the residents know it was OK to let out their feelings.

“Being a DAT member is challenging, but very, very rewarding,” Joe said. “You get there and you’re overwhelmed, but they are too. You let them know life doesn’t end today. It will get better.”

In seven months, Joe attended all disaster response courses offered in the Louisville Area and became a certified course instructor. In addition to volunteering with the disaster department anywhere from 2-7 times a week, he has made time to serve on five major disaster operations including the response to Hurricane Isaac. On his next disaster deployment, he hopes to get practice in a supervisor role.

“It’s addictive,” Joe said of responding to disasters. “It makes your heart feel tremendous knowing that you’ve been able to help somebody. It makes you feel good about yourself.”

During the winter, Joe and other DAT members see a rise in the number of home fires oftentimes caused by the use of alternate heating sources—space heaters, candles or ovens. The chapter, now more than ever, is looking for volunteers to serve on the Disaster Action Team.

If you are interested in becoming a Red Cross DAT volunteer, please call (502) 561-3601.