Trio Recognized for Lifesaving Efforts

Emergencies can happen at any time: in the grocery store parking lot, at a family wedding, on a hot day at the community pool or even at the office and inside your very own home. But regardless of when and where they occur, emergency situations usually have one thing in common: a crowd of people standing around, staring at a victim—wondering who should act and trying to remember what to do.

On August 9, 2019, Jenny Rucker, Brooke Buczek, and Joey Bridgham, trained in American Red Cross Lifeguarding/First Aid/CPR/AED, helped to sustain the life of a woman who collapsed on the pool deck at Aquatic Management Group in Raleigh, NC. Jenny Rucker was guarding the pool when a woman collapsed due to a seizure. Jenny immediately blew her whistle and went to the woman. Brooke Buczek alerted by the whistle contacted 9-1-1 while fellow lifeguard, Joey Bridgham, cleared the pool. Jenny placed the woman on her back and did an assessment. She found the woman to have a pulse but was not breathing. She attempted to establish an airway. She started conducting rescue ventilations using a mask but was unable to get the air to enter her mouth. Jenny removed her mask and managed to deliver rescue breaths.  The woman started breathing on her own once more and regained consciousness.  Emergency Medical Responders arrived shortly after and transported the woman to the hospital for further treatment. Without a doubt, the skills learned in the American Red Cross Training Services course helped to sustain the life of this woman.

Jenny, Brooke, and Joey were presented with the American Red Cross Lifesaving Award for Professional Responders. This is one of the highest awards given by the American Red Cross to an individual or team of individuals who saves or sustains a life by using skills and knowledge learned in a Red Cross Training Services course. This action exemplifies the highest degree of concern of one human being for another who is in distress. The certificate bears the signatures of the President and CEO of the American Red Cross Gail McGovern and Chairman Bonnie McElveen-Hunter.

Barry Porter, Regional CEO of the American Red Cross Eastern North Carolina, and Donna Rhode, Chair of the Triangle Area Chapter Board of Directors presented the awards.

Michael Dunbar and Greg Blum of Aquatic Management Group nominated the three recipients for this honor.  David Bagentose, Aquatics Representative for the Carolina, Training Services, was also present for the awards presentation.

To learn more about the American Red Cross Lifesaving Award program or to nominate an individual or team, please visit:  redcross.org/take-a-class/lifesaving

North Carolina State Fair, Friends, Family & Fun

The 2019 NC State Fair is now in the history books and the American Red Cross First Aid stations are closed up till next year. The Red Cross has had a First Aid Station at the fair every year since 1928, which only the exception of a couple of years during WWII when the fair was not held. The stations are run by volunteers and staff of the Eastern North Carolina Region.

On my trip to the State Fair I had the honor of meeting some of the volunteers who work at the three Red Cross stations (also known as huts). Here is a short story about the why they volunteer.

The first of many volunteers I was privileged to meet is the Red Cross First Aid Station coordinator, Kathy Ellen, who believes in giving back to the Red Cross and the community. For over 20 years she has been the face of the Red Cross at the State Fair. She told me that at one time, the Red Cross had its own building, but people couldn’t find it easily. Some years ago, it was torn down and replaced with huts which were more visible and provided a more impactful public presence.

I also met Larry Cockrell, the First Aid station supervisor overseeing the volunteers.  I learned he has an extensive history of volunteering with the Red Cross. Larry was from Nash County before moving to Raleigh. He has held many volunteer positions with the Rocky Mount/ Nash County chapter and enjoys returning to the State Fair every year because of the friendships and fellowship he has made.  He shared how things have changed over the years, but the Red Cross continues to provide an important service.

The next volunteer I met was Larry Kohn, a local business owner who sells AED’s (Automated External Defibrillators). Larry provides AEDs for each of the Red Cross First Aid Stations (huts). He was first introduced to the Red Cross through his work and has volunteered at the fair ever since. Larry said it’s like a big family at the Red Cross and has made many friends. He encouraged everyone to come and learn about helping others.

One of my highlights was meeting the students from Richlands High School of Onslow County. I was very impressed with the reasons they shared for wanting to volunteer with the Red Cross at the NC State Fair.

Natalia Thompson was so happy to volunteer with the Red Cross. After high school, she hopes to someday enter the medical field and maybe the military. She looks forward to coming back to help again.

Carly Schaub also enjoyed volunteering at the State Fair.  She said, “I am pursuing my dream by helping here today.” She’s learning more about helping others using skills from her Health Science class, including administering CPR and using an AED.

Eden Navaeh Hodge, a seventeen year old senior from Richlands High School, said “I always volunteer and love to help out. When I heard about volunteering with the Red Cross, I had to jump on it.” She hopes to volunteer more in college.

Then I met Maggie Adams, who was wearing a blue rain coat and the largest smile at the whole state fair. She said, “I am really passionate about the medical field and working in a hospital.” Maggie is a member of the high school HOSA (Health Occupational Student of America) and hopes to go to school to become a nurse.

During the NC State Fair, I met some great volunteers who said they had a great time helping at the Red Cross First Aid Station and could not wait to return next year.

This year, 56 Red Cross First Aid volunteers donated 824 hours of their time providing 872 services to fair attendees. They treated variety of health issues including blisters, insect stings, headaches, sprains, allergies, and many other ailments.

The Red Cross is grateful for volunteers and the volunteer groups who participated, including Richlands High School, Wake Early College Program, Capital Regional Advisory Committee (CapRAC), and nurses from WakeMed and Duke Raleigh Hospital.”

Learn more about volunteer opportunities with the Red Cross at www.redcross.org/enc

Story by: Wendy Ella May | American Red Cross Public Affairs Volunteer
Photography by:  Sharon Penn | American Red Cross Public Affairs Volunteer

 

Exceptional Career of Service: Meet Kathleen & Bubba

Kathleen Butler began her career with the American Red Cross in 1981. Before realizing how her journey would begin, Kathleen felt a strong pull toward helping others and relieving human suffering. During her 38 years with the Red Cross, she has served as a volunteer (ten years) and as an employee (28 years). Kathleen started her journey with the Disaster Relief Services after a college friend invited her to a Red Cross meeting back in 1981.

While at the Disaster Relief Service as a volunteer, Kathleen showed her ability to write disaster response plans. These plans would lead her to a full-time position in the Service to the Armed Forces branch of the Red Cross. This position would take her around the world. Kathleen has served on three continents, deployed six times with the Armed Forces, and responded to approximately ten national disasters.

Kathleen has served in Asia, Europe, and North America in times of peace and war, natural disasters, and a governmental transition following the fall of the Soviet Union. U.S. troops have benefited from Kathleen’s work in Desert Storm, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq (twice), and in Afghanistan. Kathleen has often reflected on her experiences and is proud of her years of service. A dedicated member of the Red Cross, Kathleen is compassionate and a problem solver. After serving with the Red Cross for 28 years, Kathleen decided it was time for a transition back to volunteering. Kathleen left Ramstein, Germany as the senior station manager, but not before picking up a cohort in service.

While in Germany, Kathleen picked up Bubba, an eighteen- month old black-haired poodle born in 2012. As Kathleen puts it, “It wasn’t long until Bubba started stealing the show.” Bubba started volunteering with Kathleen with pet visitations and he quickly started to rack up accolades. Bubba has been crowned champion in agility three times at canine performance events. Bubba is trained in both verbal and hand commands, winning three obedience titles. Bubba’s volunteer service was also recognized, having received the Iron Mike Award at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Bubba’s services are often recognized by the patients and staff, as well.

I was able to hear two amazing stories about this exceptional poodle. Recently Kathleen’s and Bubba’s service went above and beyond. Hurricane Dorian was projected to hit North Carolina and the Fort Bragg area. For safety concerns, Fort Bragg and Womack Army Medical Center were closed, except essential personnel. Luckily, the hurricane’s path changed, and Fort Bragg received a small amount of rain and wind. The service members and staff knew that Thursdays were Bubba’s and Kathleen’s day for visiting. And in true Red Cross fashion, Kathleen and Bubba arrived on the floors and received cheers and some tears.

The final story to share is that of a last man’s wish. A patient was being removed from life support and was unable to have his service dog present. Kathleen and Bubba were able to visit this patient, giving him his final wish. This patient passed away a few hours later. Kathleen further explained to me that Bubba’s presences truly benefited, patients, family members and service members receiving mental health care. After meeting both, I can see why.

Kathleen’s wishes are for her and Bubba’s to continue to serve for many more years. Their desire to relieve human suffering is genuinely remarkable. Kathleen and Bubba are true ambassadors to the Red Cross.

Story by Robert Baird | American Red Cross
Photo Credit:  Robert Baird | American Red Cross

 

 

Hundreds gather for Red Cross Institute

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Carl Witten, a Red Cross volunteer since 2005, came to the Red Cross Institute in Nashville, N.C. as an information technology specialist who has experience hooking up satellite connections for phone and internet. But he was at the institute to learn something new –  he is transitioning from volunteering in IT to serving spiritual needs. And the institute, which was held March 1-3 at Nash County Community College, provided the classes for him.

The Red Cross Institute is designed to provide a wide range of instruction, serving volunteers who are just starting out, as well as those with years of experience. The classes, of course, were free for volunteers.

“People can get classes that are not often offered at the chapter level,” said Micheal Francis, a disaster volunteer and organizer of this year’s institute. “For new volunteers, this is an opportunity to work on a track, get key classes needed to advance from a trainee.”

On offer this past weekend were entire tracks, or groups of courses, such as the Disaster Spiritual Care Track and Volunteer Services Track. Or volunteers could choose individual classes such as disaster deployment fundamentals.

A new offering this year was the Service to the Armed Forces Track – including an introductory set of six courses that could be taken together or as standalones. The track helps prepare volunteers to serve the nation’s military members, their families and veterans.Classroom-0014

About 320 volunteers were in attendance, said David Garrison, senior disaster manager. “You can get all your basic classes in one weekend,” he said, adding that it’s a good opportunity for team-building.

It was also a chance for volunteers throughout the Eastern North Carolina Region to get together and meet new colleagues or to renew old connections.

“It’s good to network, see people you don’t usually see,” said Glenn Butler, of the Sandhills Chapter. He was at the institute to learn about mass casualty events and government operations. “They’re hard-to-find specialty courses.”

Shon Niles, also from the Sandhills Chapter, was there to learn about deployment fundamentals. She also planned to take an emergency response vehicle training course. Niles currently volunteers in her chapter for the Pillowcase Project, a program that aims to prepare children for emergencies, and there were courses at the institute for that, too.

Douglas Banks, a nurse, has been an event-based volunteer since last year and was looking to study logistics and government operations fundamentals to expand his volunteering options. “I wanted to know a lot of things so I could go into managing a shelter if I wanted,” he said.

In addition to courses, the institute provided a career fair for volunteers who want to learn more about how their skills could fit best with Red Cross needs.

Wendy Flynn, regional volunteer services manager, noted that the Red Cross of Eastern North Carolina has 1,000 volunteer postings available, including many roles that new volunteers might not expect. One important need, she said, was in human resources. “We’re recruiting across all service lines, not just disaster response,” she said.

Steve and Jeannie Lowell of Apex said they are in training mode, doing disaster action team training, and focusing on the Government Operations Track. “There are so many things to do – I’m overwhelmed,” Jeannie said.

By volunteering with the Red Cross, they hope to pass along their passion for helping others to their children, Steve said. “It’s a good environment, everyone working toward a common goal.”

To view photos from the Red Cross Institute, visit https://www.flickr.com/photos/triangleredcross/albums/72157676996282887

To view videos from the event, visit http://www.facebook.com/redcrossenc.

Story by Michael White / American Red Cross

10 years later, Red Cross response to ‘Miracle on the Hudson’ continues to give hope

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Red Cross Disaster Executive Scott Graham (right) speaks during the Power of Miracles event in Durham, N.C. on Jan. 17, 2019.

Scott Graham’s crew at the mid-Manhattan office of the Red Cross was experienced – the group typically handled relief for 8-10 incidents, such as fires, a day. Members, who included a retired New York City police officer and retired firefighters, were used to springing into action on short notice. But a plane crash into a river is no everyday incident, even for a veteran group.

On Jan. 15, 2009, with wintry temperatures around 20 degrees, Graham got a phone call about 3:30 p.m. from New York City Emergency Management with news that a US Airways jetliner had gone down in the Hudson River. Graham’s first thought: “We’re going to need blankets.”

“We had to mobilize our team, and we had to do it quickly,” Graham said.

Graham’s team was ready in minutes after the Airbus A320-214 went down off the 42nd Street ferry terminal, near the Red Cross office. Dozens of Red Crossers were on hand when ferries brought survivors to shore in mid-Manhattan, and a truckload of supplies arrived quickly. Across the river in New Jersey, the Red Cross was there for survivors taken to the other side.

“You’ve got to have the equipment in place, the right people and communication,” Graham said.

All 155 aboard Flight 1549, which was bound for Charlotte, North Carolina, survived, and the event has been dubbed the “Miracle on the Hudson.”

On Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019, people gathered at The Carolina Theatre in downtown Durham to commemorate the 10th anniversary. The co-pilot of Flight 1549, Jeff Skiles, was a guest speaker, as well as Dave Sanderson, who was the last passenger off the sinking plane. Also there Thursday night was Graham, who shared his account of the how the Red Cross rapidly mobilized to make a difference.

The story of how the captain, Chesley Sullenberger, coolly brought the plane down after striking a flock of geese minutes after takeoff has been the subject of a movie – “Sully” – books and numerous articles in the news media. But little has been told of how the Red Cross sprang to action.

More than 200 Red Crossers responded immediately to help survivors keep warm in the freezing weather and to provide emotional support. But the number of community responders would grow to the thousands over the following days, as the response at the site continued for workers removing the plane from the Hudson.

Sanderson said the unsung heroes on the day of the crash were the ferry operators who plucked the wet survivors off the wings of the plane as it took on water – and the Red Cross workers.

“When I got to shore, there were three EMTs and one Red Cross guy with a blanket,” he said.

Red Cross workers provided other aid – such as helping survivors get in touch with loved ones – in the immediate aftermath and followed through to ensure that needs such as clothing were met.

“The sense of calm and relief was enormous,” Graham said. “Kindness was the most important thing.”

Sanderson noted that when he returned to Charlotte, he was greeted not only by his wife, but by Red Cross workers who had been supporting the entire family – that helped make him a believer in the Red Cross. He has gone on to become an active supporter of the Red Cross mission of alleviating suffering and helping those in emergencies.

“The American Red Cross does that every single moment of every single day – give hope,” Sanderson said.

Story by Michael White/American Red Cross

To view photos from the evening, visit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/triangleredcross/albums/72157688892330003/with/39829040753/

Hurricane survivor stays strong, looks to help others as Red Cross volunteer

Matilda Shanks has survived personal tragedies and two deadly hurricanes, but through it all, she has found strength in focusing on others in need.

Now, she wants to channel that passion for helping others as a volunteer for the Red Cross. After all, she says, during trying times, the Red Cross has been there for her.

Matilda Shanks

Matilda Shanks

After Hurricane Florence made landfall at Wrightsville Beach on Sept. 14, eastern North Carolina was inundated with record flooding. Shanks, 45, of Chadbourn, N.C., in Cumberland County, went to Edgewood Elementary School, a Red Cross shelter nearby in Whitesville, when floodwaters rose around her home. But she put her time to good use helping other residents of the shelter.

“She stood out because she didn’t seem to let anything bother her,” said Betty Odiaka Baldwin, a Red Cross event-based volunteer who worked in the Edgewood Elementary shelter.

Shanks was there for other residents, listening and offering a shoulder to lean on.

“I smile and have a happy face every single day,” Shanks said. “Other people confide in me, talk to me.”

But she also threw herself into helping out at the shelter and did tasks that shelter volunteers did.

“She’s a very caring person,” Odiaka Baldwin said. “Really, you wouldn’t think she’s a resident in a shelter because she did so much.”

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Matilda Shanks’ home after Hurricane Florence.

Shanks and Odiaka Baldwin had met two years earlier, at a Red Cross shelter at the same school, during Hurricane Matthew. But they bonded during the weeks they shared after Florence.

Shanks opened up to Odiaka Baldwin about her past. In addition to living through Matthew, Shanks had survived the loss of two daughters years earlier.

The tragedy that struck before dawn on Feb. 1, 1996, remains vivid for Shanks.

“I was awakened about 4 a.m. to the sound of something banging,” Shanks said. “I thought someone was trying to get in.”

It was the sound of neighbors desperately pounding on the door of Shanks’ burning house. She and her daughters had moved in only three days earlier, and she didn’t realize the smoke alarms did not have batteries.

“I tried to get my children,” she said. “There was so much smoke. I was burned over 50 percent of my body.”

She was flown to the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center at UNC Health Care in Chapel Hill for treatment.

In addition to losing her daughters, who were 16 months and 4 years old, Shanks was suddenly homeless.

“I lost everything,” she said.

But the Red Cross was there for her, she said. Volunteers visited and made sure she had everything she needed.

“Red Cross was so awesome to me at that time,” she said. “I was so thankful and grateful. They blew my mind.”

Shanks also credits her faith for keeping her strong.

When Matthew struck in 2016, no one expected the hurricane to be so bad, and her neighborhood wasn’t evacuated. But as the severity of the storm became clear with the rise of floodwaters, Shanks and her daughter Jay’Brehon, now 18, moved upstairs to keep dry. Shanks made sure to take her portable radio, and she rode out the storm with praise music playing.

“God is going to be God. I trust him no matter what,” she said.

Flooding caused by Matthew devastated eastern North Carolina, and Shanks said it took five months for water damage to her home to be repaired before she could move back in.

But now she has been forced out again, this time by Florence. Shanks initially returned to the shelter at Edgewood, and is now in a hotel, unsure when repairs to her home will be complete.

For Shanks, whose creativity has led her to be a decorator, poet, musician and gift basket designer, the uncertainty has been trying.

“It took a toll on me,” she said.

But in the midst of difficulties, she has signed up as a Red Cross volunteer.

“I could never go through life forgetting the people who have been there for me,” Shanks said.

That includes Odiaka Baldwin, who regularly checks in on Shanks at the hotel.

“We just made a connection,” Odiaka Baldwin said. “I think it will be a lifetime connection.”

Story by Michael White/American Red Cross

Three years after tornado takes home, couple joins Red Cross to help others

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Beverly and Reggie Riddick

For most, retirement usually conjures visions of travels, hobbies and uninhibited leisure. For Reggie and Beverly Riddick, retirement presents an opportunity to give back.  

In 2014, severe weather in North Carolina produced six tornados across the eastern portion of the state. One ripped the roof off of Reggie and Beverly’s mobile home in Elizabeth City, N.C. As the Riddicks surveyed the damage after the disaster, Red Cross volunteers met them in their suffering by offering water, temporary housing and connections to recovery resources.  

Additionally, the Red Cross covered the cost of two nights in a hotel so Reggie and Beverly could develop a plan for future housing. The couple said they were most impressed with the way Red Cross volunteers followed up in the days and weeks after the tornado.  

“That really left a warm spot in our hearts,” Reggie said.  

The experience with the destructive tornado produced lasting influences on the Riddicks. The couple said it strengthened their faith in God and it established a spirit of gratitude toward the Red Cross. 

About a year ago, the Red Cross re-entered the Riddicks’ lives. Reggie was reading the newspaper and saw information about a volunteer interest meeting.  

“Put it on your calendar, we definitely want to attend,” Reggie said to his wife of 17 years.  

When reflecting on that meeting, Beverly remembers feeling overwhelmed by the inviting attitudes of the volunteers. As a perfectionist, she appreciated that the volunteers emphasized mistakes are learning opportunities.  

Now, the retired educators channel their spiritual passion into service with the Red Cross’s disaster spiritual care team and disaster action team.  

“When we lost our home in that tornado, it was our spirituality that held everything together for us. It brought us closer together as a couple and it brought us closer to God,” Beverly said.  

The Red Cross aims to meet the short and long-term spiritual needs of those affected by disasters through providing accompaniment, compassionate care, individual and communal prayer, and appropriate ritual. Spiritual care team volunteers also connect clients to resources according to their individual beliefs.  

Professional or board-certified chaplains, disaster spiritual care providers with other voluntary organizations and endorsed leaders of local faith communities are eligible to submit applications to become spiritual care providers for the Red Cross. Reggie and Beverly are both ordained deacons at Riddick Grove Missionary Baptist Church (no name connection) in Belvidere, N.C.  

“We wanted to find a way to give back because we are very spiritual people and God wants us to serve others,” Reggie said. 

As spiritual care team leads, the Riddicks are working on compiling a list of local contacts who represent various religions to serve their diverse clientele. Reggie said he never wants differences of traditions to keep people from receiving the care they need especially in the aftermath of disasters.  

“I think it’s very important for people to know that God is still with them, whatever God they do serve,” Reggie said.  

When serving on their local disaster team, often responding to home fires, Reggie and Beverly comfort distraught residents by listening to their needs and offering encouraging sentiments. The Riddicks recognize that their experience with losing their home gives them the unique ability to empathize with clients. Reggie said people are much more attentive once they hear about their own history with disaster.  

In the past year, the Riddicks have responded to a handful of home fires, served as shelter feeding leads during Hurricane Florence, and attended virtual training seminars and in-person training workshops. They haven’t been volunteers long, but they have each already accrued more than 100 volunteer hours.  

“We just enjoy helping people, it’s a part of our nature,” Beverly said.  

The Northeastern North Carolina Chapter is grateful Reggie and Beverly have chosen to dedicate part of their retirement to giving back to the organization that helped them on their path to recovery.  

“We are thankful that the Lord has given us the commitment and desire to do it,” Reggie said.  

Story by Shelby Raymond/American Red Cross