Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Fire Response June 29, 2010

Yesterday I went on my first disaster response. We received a call at the office that a house in West Valley had caught fire. I have been itching to go on a response, so I jumped at the chance. With excitement and a little trepidation I went with Sherry and Kris on the response as a PIO/observer.

We arrived at the house; it was completely destroyed. I didn't expect to feel the intense emotions that overcame me. The couple, who have three children, were staring into their home in which nothing inside was recognizable except for a loose hanging chandelier; you could see through the roof. Their two pugs were inside, not able to make it out.

I completely forgot about taking pictures and getting the details to share with the American Red Cross community. My heart ached for this family. Sherry sat down with the home owner to fill out all of the required paperwork. I watched in earnest as Sherry informed him that we were able to help his family with food, clothing, and their necessary medication.

I finally began shooting with my new Flipcam. This is my first attempt at conveying the Red Cross mission through film. Nothing can compare to the despair I saw in the home owner's eyes, I hope this will show you what we do and how we help. When people are most vulnerable and devastated, the Red Cross is there to help.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Meet AmeriCorps Volunteer Darran Zenger!

Darran Zenger works diligently everyday at the Greater Salt Lake Area Chapter of the American Red Cross. He has been a volunteer in the office since February and began as a part-time AmeriCorps volunteer in April, spending his time recruiting volunteers who are interested in becoming First Aid/CPR/AED Instructors and scheduling instructors to teach these classes. With his help the Preparedness, Health and Safety Department makes for a well-oiled machine.

As Darran works at his desk each morning, Archer, a yellow lab stays attentively by his side. Darran lives with a condition called Usher Syndrome, which is characterized as progressive vision loss due to Retinitis pigmentosa and deafness. This has caused Darran to be profoundly deaf and legally blind. Archer, his guide dog, has been with Darran since July 2008 and makes life and traveling much easier.

Everyday poses a different battle for Darran; whether it’s finding and purchasing a phone system so he can effectively communicate with the volunteers he works with or trying arduously to make sure there is a teacher for the life-saving skills classes taught at the Red Cross. But, he takes on these battles with energy and enthusiasm and gets the job done. Not once has Darran said “I can’t do this.” Instead, he says, “I can do more” with the proper resources. That drive alone has fueled many of us at the chapter to find ways to do more.

His greatest challenge; “Showing people that I CAN work; I CAN do the job with reasonable accommodations,” Darran says. Misconceptions about what it means to be deaf-blind have caused some concern for Darran. “Most people who think of someone who is deaf-blind, think of Helen Keller, someone who is totally deaf and totally blind, but there is a wide degree of deaf-blindness,” he says.
Darran has done nothing but overcome these challenges and the struggles he has faced practically all his life, due to his condition. He graduated from high school in Oregon where he spent his childhood. He moved to Utah ten years ago and received a degree in Psychology from Utah State in 2004. Married for 12 years, Darran has three kids, a son who is eleven and two daughters, nine and three.

He loves volunteering at the Red Cross, “The co-workers are awesome and I thoroughly enjoy working with everyone.” Darran brings tremendous energy to the office and is an inspiring member of the Red Cross and AmeriCorps team; plus he’s giving us all sign language lessons for free!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Practical CPR Application: Have you had to use your skills??

This weekend I almost had to use my newly minted CPR skills. My cousin turned seven on Sunday so for her birthday and Father’s Day my dad’s side of the family gathered at a pizza place with arcade games, laser tag, bumper cars and mini golf. After a rip-roaring round in the bumper car ring I headed to check on my aunt and cousins. My aunt needed a break so she asked if I could watch the little ones as they played arcade games. The birthday girl and I walked over to the Ski Ball game, entered our tokens and started to play. Shortly thereafter I heard a man screaming profusely in another language at his wife nearby. I immediately grabbed my cousin thinking some sort of domestic violence was about to ensue. Then out of the corner of my eye I saw a woman on the ground clearly having a seizure.

Honestly, I panicked. For half a second I didn’t know what to do. What felt like minutes but was just milliseconds later, I asked the husband if she was okay and told him to dial 911. Knowing that my sister who is a nurse and my uncle who is a Physicians Assistant were both nearby and more qualified than I to handle the situation I yelled to my sister, “There’s an emergency, there’s an emergency, this woman is seizing!”

She ran over, checked the woman who was still seizing and made sure she was in position so that she wouldn’t vomit and aspirate. My uncle then rushed over. At this point she had stopped seizing and he turned her on her side. He felt no pulse and she was not breathing. He began compressions, gave two breaths and checked her again. She then became conscious and extremely disoriented. In the meantime, I had taken my cousin away because she started to cry, wondering what was wrong with that “mommy on the ground.” Shortly afterward, the paramedics showed up and I watched from a distance as my uncle gave them a report of what happened and then took the woman away on a stretcher.

I have hashed and re-hashed the event over and over in my mind. Why for half a second did I panic? Thankful that the adrenaline kicked in and that I knew there were more qualified people nearby, my mind is at ease. But I wonder what I would have done if I were the only one in the room, or if my uncle and sister were not there. I hope that my adrenaline would have kept pumping and that I would have poked her to ask if she was okay and checked her breathing and then started CPR. Doing CPR on a dummy and pretending to assess the situation during class is incredibly different than the real life situation I had to deal with yesterday. I am glad I knew to have someone call 911 (although next time I will assign that task to someone besides the frantic husband.) I’m grateful I know the skills so if my uncle and sister had not been there, I could have helped save that wife and mother.

Hopefully all of our faithful blog readers (all two of you, hi mom!) are certified in CPR, First Aid, and AED. If not sign up for a class today!
And for those of you who are trained, check out the Red Cross store and get yourself a breathing barrier and other CPR necessities.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Volunteer Picnic!

Last night we had our annual Volunteer Picnic. It was great to see new faces and meet more of the people who are doing fantastic work for the Red Cross, for free!

I just posted pictures on our Flickr group page. Check out the fun times we had last night and thank you to all for coming and celebrating our fabulous volunteers. Without you all, the Red Cross would crumble!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Video of Demi Lovato in Chile

Tween Queen Demi Lovato visited Chile with the American Red Cross. The video features children from the U.S. writing letters to the children in Chile that Demi personally delivers to the Chilean Red Cross. No matter what you think of the celebrity, watch her inspiring trip to Chile.

How will you make your mark on the world?!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Be Prepared- Take a Red Cross Course

While this weather may not accurately portray the current season, it is indeed Summer.  Most schools are out for summer break, which means hiking, swimming, camping, boating; basically anything and everything outdoors.

Summer is a great time to vacation and is usually filled with fun activties for familes, kids and adults. But it also means an increased risk for injuries and other emergencies.

With our new course schedule now online, you can sign up for a number of classes to keep you safe this summer. Our classes include First Aid/CPR/AED training, Wilderness and Remote First Aid, Cat and Dog First Aid, Babysitter's Training, Scout First Aid Merit Badge, and Disaster Services Training.

Our website also includes links to helpful information about staying safe before, during, and after a multitude of emergencies, including how to deal with a Heat Wave, Swimming Safety, Floods, Fires,  Earthquakes, and many more.

So take the first step in becoming a Prepared citizen by taking a class and learning life saving skills that just might come in handy during these summer months.

And check out this great article from the Standard Examiner in Ogden about summer safety.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Red Cross Supports 100 Firefighters

Red Cross Is Called Upon to

Provide Water and Food for approximately 100 Firefighters in Liberty Park

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH (Saturday, June 12, 2010)— The American Red Cross is setting up to provide food and water for firefighters and first responders on the scene in Liberty Park at this hour. Red Cross Disaster Action Teams are on standby to provide any additional services as they may arise. More details coming soon.

The Utah Region of the American Red Cross responds to more than two incidents each week, some of them render multiple families homeless. Nationwide, the American Red Cross’s local chapters help victims of major and minor disasters by offering immediate comfort, which may include food, a warm place to stay, clothing and other life necessities. Volunteers give comfort kits to victims of fire, flood or other disasters. The kits include helpful items like toothbrushes, toothpaste and a toy for children.

If you’d like to help, financial donations are always accepted to help victims of this fire and other disasters in your community. For more information about donating to the Chapter Emergency Services please go to or call 801.323.7000.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Floods in Utah-UPDATE

The Red Cross is still on standby for the flooding around the state. Fortunately the weather has been cooler with limited storm activity which has allowed for operations to be scaled back.

We were not requested to open a shelter but we do have 2 locations identified in Salt Lake County and 1 in Summit County just in case.

We also sent some of our volunteers to help with the sandbagging operations that took place in Cottonwood Heights. 

These pictures were taken in Summit County. The one on the left is flood damage to a home in Oakley and the one on the right shows sandbags attempting to protect further damage.

Many thanks to all volunteers around the state who stepped up to help the community.

If you were, or are still, affected by the flooding, share your story with us here on the blog or on our Facebook page.

To donate to the Red Cross relief efforts in Utah click here.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Update on Red Cross Responses Today

The Red Cross is offering assistance with immediate essential needs like shelter and food for any families that become displaced due to the flooding in Oakley or elsewhere.

The Red Cross is also delivering canteen services, bringing water and snacks to the workers and volunteers in Oakley who are sandbagging this afternoon.

The Red Cross shelter teams and disaster action teams are on stand by to address any upcoming needs for those who may become displaced or evacuated and need Red Cross assistance if needed.

Anyone in need of Red Cross help due to the flooding can request help at 801-323-7000 (24/7) or talk to the Red Cross disaster action team members on scene.

Red Cross Disaster Responses Today

The American Red Cross is responding today to help two families (four individuals) in Oakley due to flooding.

The Red Cross is also responding to a house fire in Fort Duchesne affecting one individual. The Red Cross is helping this individual with shelter, food and emergency prescription refills.

More details coming soon.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Ready to Help

The American Red Cross local Greater Salt Lake Area Chapter is ready to help due to flooding tonight if needed.

Red Cross shelter teams and disaster action teams are on stand by to respond if called upon. The Red Cross has a representative participating at the Salt Lake County Emergency Operations Center tonight.

Teams were also on standby last night from 5pm to 1:00 am.

Gear Up for Summer Travel and Activities

I don’t know about you, but this weekend I got a little fried. And I’m not talking dipped in batter and put in the greaser, I’m talking sunburned. My sister, a friend of ours, and I went on a hike up to Grandeur Peak in Millcreek Canyon. Not only was it one of the hottest days, if not the hottest, of this summer season, we went around noon when the sun was right over head. While we all put on 50 SPF, it didn’t quite make for a burn free day. And just because the bottle of sunscreen says sweat free, does not mean you shouldn’t reapply after a long vertical hike up to a peak. Man, were we covered in salt. When we finally reached the top, there were bugs everywhere waiting to get a salty treat from our sweaty arms.

My sister gets heat exhaustion pretty easily if she does not hydrate enough when out in the sun. So to stave off the impending headache from that golden beast over head we stopped in the shade for water multiple times and she dipped her hat in the passing creek every time its running water graced our trail. We made sure to bring a backpack with extra water. We brought our friend’s dog so we had to make sure he had plenty of water too.

Our first hike of the summer season turned out to be a big success. Not only did we make it to the top of the peak to see the fabulous 360 degree view of the Salt Lake Valley (I highly recommend this hike by the way) we were able to get by with just a few burned arms and necks and kept the heat exhaustion at bay by having plenty of water to hydrate.

While you begin to plan your summer activities and vacations, keep in mind all of the things you need to stay safe. Bring a backpack on long hikes with extra water, food, and sunscreen. Make sure you read up on the area you are travelling to, including weather, possible risks for disasters, etc. Know about safety precautions when swimming in lakes and rivers, and if you have your own pool or hot tub, make sure you know the proper techniques for keeping swimmers safe.

Enjoy the beautifully hot weather we are starting to have here in Utah. Have Fun and Be Safe!

Friday, June 4, 2010

New Book by Twilight series author Stephanie Meyer to benefit the Red Cross

Have you been dying for a good excuse to purchase the new book by Twilight series author Stephanie Meyer? Well today's your lucky day.

Stephanie's new book titled The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, about Bree Tanner, a newborn vampire and the history of the newborns, goes on sale tomorrow. Stephanie has decided to donate $1 for every book that is sold, to the American Red Cross.

So all you Twi-hards out there, (yes we call ourselves that!) pick up your copy when they go on sale tomorrow and feel good about supporting the Red Cross.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Cast Your Vote and Help the Red Cross Win $200,000 from American Express

Are you someone who may not have the funds to donate to the charity of your choice but want to support in anyway you can? Well here is your chance to donate money to the Red Cross, all you have to do is vote!

We recently learned that American Express is giving away $200,000 in funding to five different charities. The Red Cross can win, all you have to do is vote! Check out the link to cast your vote. We only have 5% of the votes right now.

The Red Cross is eligible to receive $200,000 in funding through the American Express Members Project. Every three months, American Express will give $200,000 to five charities—and your vote can help the Red Cross win. Voting is open to everyone—all employees, volunteers, supporters and the general public—and it is not necessary to be an American Express cardholder. Please visit and vote for the Red Cross! Voting is underway now; if we win, funds will support the Disaster Relief Fund and International Response Fund.

CPR/AED Awareness Week continues...Do you have what you need?

Do you have everything you need to effectively perform CPR and use the AED machine? If not, check out the Red Cross Store.

Also, read this awesome article in the Deseret News about National CPR/AED Awareness Week!

Sign up for a class today either to certify or as a refresher course, and learn the skills that could help you save someone's life!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Are You Red Cross Ready? In Sign Language!

Check out this fantastic video made by the Oregon School for the Deaf! Here at the Salt Lake Area Chapter, we have new volunteers who are deaf or hard of hearing. Darran and Vern, who happen to be in the office working now, are a great addition to our team. And we are all in the process of learning ASL.

In the meantime...Are You Red Cross Ready???