Life Saved at Wilmington Pickleball Game

For members of the Cape Fear Pickleball Club, November 4, 2019, was an ordinary day of sport and fellowship. Until one of the members of the club who was preparing to take part in a match suddenly collapsed on the court.

Photos by New Hanover County, NC –

Jackie Sage, an off-duty registered nurse, responded immediately. She quickly dialed 9-1-1 to alert emergency personnel and took control of the scene. Jackie was joined by Rudy Thurman, a former respiratory therapist, who helped to assess the man. After the assessment, it was determined the he needed CPR. Rudy began chest compressions. Tammy Frieberg, also a registered nurse, came to aid the gentleman by audibly counting chest compressions as they were conducted. Once Rudy had begun to tire, Tammy relieved him and resumed compressions. Leigh Grainger assisted by providing rescue breathes in conjunction with the compressions. Jackie continued to control the scene while on the phone with 9-1-1.

The man was not responding, so Jackie sent a bystander, Kevin Devol, to obtain an AED. Kevin retrieved the AED with help from Malik Glaspie from the MLK Center. Once the AED had arrived, Jackie and Tammy connected the pads to his chest. The AED analyzed and suggested administering a shock. All stood clear as a shock was delivered. Emergency Medical Services arrived on scene as the shock was delivered.

Without a doubt, the skills learned in the American Red Cross Training Services course helped to sustain the life of this man. The American Red Cross is honored to award the lifesaving actions of these extraordinary individuals

For their heroic and lifesaving actions, Jackie Sage, Tammy Frieberg, Rudy Thurman, and Leigh LaGrange were awarded the following American Red Cross Lifesaving Awards at a ceremony on Friday, June 26, 2020, at Robert Strange Park in Wilmington, NC. The American Red Cross Cape Fear Executive Director James Jarvis and New Hanover County Emergency Manager Rob Zapple presented the awards to these deserving individuals.

The Certificate of Merit is the highest award given by the Red Cross to individuals who save or sustain a life using skills learned in a Red Cross Training Services course. “We’re extremely proud to present a Certificate of Merit to Jackie and Tammy,” said James Jarvis, Executive Director, American Red Cross Cape Fear Chapter. “Their actions exemplify our mission  to help people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies.”

“The Certificate of Extraordinary Personal Action is given to individuals, like Rudy and Leigh who step up in an emergency situation and help save or sustain a life,” said Jarvis. “These individuals exemplify the mission of the Red Cross to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies and are to be commended for their willingness to help others in distress.”

Red Cross training gives people the knowledge and skills to act in an emergency and save a life. A variety of online, blended (online and in-person skills session) and classroom courses are available at

If you or someone you know has used skills and knowledge learned in an American Red Cross Training Services course to help save or sustain the life of another individual, visit to nominate, recognize, or be inspired.

No Ordinary Day

September 9, 2019, started out an ordinary day at the Keihin North America location in Tarboro, NC – until an associate team member collapsed in sudden cardiac arrest.

Seeing their colleague in distress, John Foster, Jeremy Judd, and Julia Sheff immediately called 9-1-1 and began intervention with CPR and an AED. They continued their efforts until emergency responders arrived on the scene – approximately 12 minutes later. Fortunately, EMS was able to regain a pulse before the patient was transported to the hospital. Their quick efforts enabled their colleague to survive this cardiac arrest incident and begin their recovery.

Plant Manager Robert Bass nominated John, Jeremy, and Julia for their incredible actions. The American Red Cross is honored we honor them with the Certificate of Extraordinary Personal Action.

The Certificate of Extraordinary Personal Action is awarded to individuals who step up in an emergency situation and help save or sustain a life.  These individuals exemplify the mission of the Red Cross to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies and we commend you for your willingness to help others in distress.

Red Cross training gives people the knowledge and skills to act in an emergency and save a life. A variety of online, blended (online and in-person skills session) and classroom courses are available at

If you or someone you know has used skills and knowledge learned in an American Red Cross Training Services course to help save or sustain the life of another individual, visit to nominate, recognize, or be inspired.

Keihin Lifesaving Awards - Jeremy Judd - John Foster - Mace Robinson 6-15-2020
Pictured (L-R):  Jeremy Judd, John Foster, and Mace Robinson, Executive Director of the American Red Cross Northeastern North Carolina.

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:

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

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


Hundreds gather for Red Cross Institute


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

To view videos from the event, visit

Story by Michael White / American Red Cross

Road for new Red Cross driver began with shelter stay after Florence  

After a full day of intensive training, capped off with a road driving test, Patricia Ramos is on her way to becoming one of North Carolina’s newest Red Cross volunteer emergency response vehicle drivers. 

ERV Patricia
Patricia Ramos is on her way to being a new volunteer emergency response vehicle driver.

The Fayetteville State University student signed up for the driving bootcamp after spending time in a Red Cross shelter for people affected by Hurricane Florence. After that experience, Ramos knew she wanted to get involved with the organization. The work that teams on emergency response vehicles (ERVs) do was particularly appealing to her. 

For her, it’s about “being able to go to the people and to talk to them and see what’s going on,” she said. 

ERV teams go out to disaster-affected communities to deliver emergency supplies and serve meals. They may also deploy to other parts of the country to join large-scale disaster responses, as was the case for Hurricane Florence. 

Ramos was all smiles after completing various maneuvers with the ERV. To earn their certification, the students had to drive around cones, parallel park, reverse into positions as directed by their back-up buddy and demonstrate their proficiency on the road. That comes after learning about topics like food safety, equipment and maintenance procedures. 

ERV Yvette
Yvette Patterson uses hand signals to direct the driver of the emergency response vehicle during a training session. Patterson, of Fayetteville, decided to become a Red Cross volunteer after Hurricane Florence. “I thought this would be a good opportunity to help folks in my community,” she said. 

Ramos first got to know the Red Cross up close after Hurricane Florence made landfall. Before Florence hit, she had taken her mother and sister further inland from their home in Ivanhoe in Sampson County, North Carolina. They stayed in Albemarle, about an hour outside of Charlotte, for about a week before they decided to return to their homes.  

In Robeson County, they encountered numerous flooded areas, but were unable to find any available hotel rooms. They kept searching until they realized it was too risky to continue further. The trio ended up at the Red Cross shelter at Lumberton High School in the evening.

ERV class
 Instructor James Buckley gives bootcamp students an orientation on the different components of a Red Cross emergency response vehicle. Three of the eight students that day were new volunteers with the Red Cross.


Now that Ramos is back at home in Fayetteville, she’s looking forward to getting more practice behind the wheel of the ERV. She’s also checking out other volunteer opportunities with the Red Cross, including helping at shelters and events, and even a possible internship in health services.  

She said it’s been interesting to learn about all the ways the Red Cross helps the community. “I think it’s an amazing organization,” she said. “It’s really out there to help.” 

Story and photos by Ann Kim/American Red Cross 

What’s it like to be a disaster team intern?

Greg Watts_2After graduating from high school, Gregory Watts chose to pursue a disaster services internship with the Red Cross of Eastern North Carolina. And in the fall, he became fully immersed in disaster relief operation work. The then 19-year-old deployed twice to Texas for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, and once to Puerto Rico to help assist victims of Hurricane Maria. When Gregory returned home, we spoke with him about his deployments. Here’s what we learned!

Q: First, why and how did you choose to work for the Red Cross in disaster relief?

A: I always enjoyed giving blood and platelets, so I called and inquired about an internship. I chose disaster relief because it sounded exciting. One deployment turned into three with the recent hurricane season!

Greg Watts_1
Gregory Watts speaks with a reporter before deploying to Puerto Rico.

Q: What were your assignments on deployments?

A: In Texas, I was delivering food and water to victims. In Puerto Rico, I was the warehouse distribution supervisor in charge of coordinating water, tarps, baby food, meals, toilet paper, etc. to be delivered appropriately.

Greg Watts_3
A shelter area in Texas. 

Q: What was most rewarding about deploying to help?

A: The best part was delivering supplies personally to people in Texas. It was incredible to be able to actually shake people’s hands and see their faces light up in the midst of everything going on. In both places [Texas and Puerto Rico] it was really great to see how in disaster all hidden agendas are stripped away for the good of the whole. The focus of the Red Cross is being there to help and it was amazing to be associated with such a worthy cause.

Greg Watts_4
Devastation in Texas following Hurricane Harvey.

Q: What was your greatest challenge?


A: Beside the overall stress of [being on a disaster relief operation], there were occasional conflicts between those who were deployed. Time and kindness resolved what was at first most difficult. Then we were faced with the other big challenges of power outages and insufficient resources at times. In Puerto Rico I learned so much about making quick decisions in order to be sure people got what they needed as quickly as possible. There’s not much time to think so you have to think fast and have a good plan. I learned it saved a lot of time to have my graphs, forms, and charts organized.

Q: Is there anything you wish you brought with you that you did not?

A: We were advised to bring five days worth of food and water which fortunately we didn’t need at the time. I really wish I had brought bug spray. The mosquitoes in Puerto Rico were bad! There was not enough bug spray.

Q: Any comic relief in the midst of disaster relief?

A: All I can say is as hard as we all tried to stay organized, there were days the truck would run out of gas then we would lose the keys – but it would be so ridiculous we would wind up laughing in the end. 

Greg Watts_5
Gregory Watts stands in front of what used to be a beach-side resort in Arecibo, Puerto Rico.

Story by Phoebe Fulkerson/American Red Cross

Photos courtesy of Gregory Watts

Volunteer Orientations with a Twist

One very resourceful Program Specialist, Shannon Kelly-Miller, needed to be in two places at once – what to do? After some brainstorming and with the assistance of Disaster Lead, Debbie Williams, these two Red Crossers, decided to do Skype Volunteer Orientations. The Red Cross Volunteer Orientations are an important first step for new volunteers to meet our experienced volunteers and staff and hear first hand about what we do as an organization.  Prospective volunteers not only are provided details about what the role of a Red Cross volunteer is and how they can serve their communities; but it tells them the history of the Red Cross and the impact our organization has in the community, in Eastern North Carolina and the organization nationally. Our instructors are able to answer questions and assist in finishing the application process so that our volunteers are ready to have boots on the ground in all program lines Disaster, Services to Armed Forces, Blood and Preparedness, Health and Safety Services.

Shannon Kelly-Miller and Debbie Williams testing their technology for the Skype Volunteer Orientations.
Shannon Kelly-Miller and Debbie Williams testing their technology for the Skype Volunteer Orientations.

Shannon and Debbie worked through all the possible technology challenges to ensure that both the Wayne County and Lenoir County Chapters in Eastern North Carolina would work successfully. On the day of the orientations Shannon, using her Kindle Fire, and Debbie, using the laptops in the office worked with the new Red Cross volunteers to orientate how the Red Cross works and what the role of a  Red Cross volunteer is in the community.

Shannon summonded up the whole experience, “Debbie Williams  was a great help, there is no way I could have done it without her! She rocks!! She allowed me to be there to do my normal orientation and give them the additional information that they needed about disaster and was there to be able to take up paperwork and be my hands on, while I wasn’t able to physically be able to get to the Chapter. A wonderful way to combine our knowledge that allowed me to be two places at once!”

Two prospective volunteers having a Skype Volunteer Orientation with Program Specialist, Shannon Kelly-Miller.
Two prospective volunteers having a Skype Volunteer Orientation with Program Specialist, Shannon Kelly-Miller.

The volunteers who took the orientation were all asked afterwards for truthful opinions of the experience and they shared that they thought it was “a neat idea for future orientations and classes” and despite a few technical glitches at the beginning really enjoyed the meeting.

For more information on becoming a Red Cross volunteer please contact , Regional Director of Volunteers, 919-231-1602 or go to and click on Ways to Help.