Monday, June 18, 2018

Regional Executive Corner with Joel R. Sullivan - June 2018

Three Preparedness Tips To Help In Your Next Disaster

We all will experience a disaster at some point in the future.  It may be a car wreck, lost in the woods, a severe weather outbreak or some other unforeseen event.  Knowing what to do during one of those events is critical to your recovery.

I promise you will not have to hit next or scroll through a bunch of ads to get to these tips.  For those of you who learn from the internet, you know what I mean.  So let’s dive in.

The American Red Cross urges each person to build a kit, make a plan and be informed.  Just doing those three things will make recovery much easier.

1. Build A Kit – Spend a moment with friends and family and think about disasters you may experience.  In Tennessee, you will most likely experience a tornado, flood or ice storm.  What would you need if these events happened to you at home, work or in the car?  Your kit may have these items in it.  Some common items are a few days of any prescription medications, food, water, flashlight with batteries, money, sunscreen, list of important phone numbers…especially insurance agents, and other key things.

2. Make A Plan – Where will you go in a disaster event.  What family, friend or hotel will you stay at should your residence become inaccessible?  Do they know you are coming?  How will you communicate with co-workers, loved ones and friends?  Who is your point person out of State that everyone can call if you are in a disaster?  It is much easier to get a message out of State than it is for people to try to contact you.  All you need to do is make one call to that point of contact and they will advise everyone else you are okay? You can also register in website that Red Cross administers.

3. Be Informed – Most often in a big disaster, information is limited due to communication sources being out of service.  Be sure you have a regular radio or become a HAM radio operator so you are able to collect the most current information.  Many have battery operated radios and TVs that work as well.  You will most always have access to a car radio to listen to for response information. Also, please know how to use one of the many map applications on your smart device.  Should you get stranded, you can use that device to tell 911 operators exactly where you are.  Some applications even offer your latitude and longitude coordinates.  This is crucial information when time is of the essence.  

It is not if another disaster will happen, but when.  Disasters come in many forms and can be created by Mother Nature or man.  Your key to recovery is to be sure you are prepared to take care of yourself.  You hold the keys to having a successful outcome as a survivor rather than a victim.
Now is the time to prepare!

Letter from Tennessee River Executive Director, Katy Hagstrom - June 2018

The summer is a crucial yet exciting time for the American Red Cross and brings new opportunities for volunteers and donors. We would like to challenge you to try something new and learn about one of our lines of service that you don’t usually volunteer in.

Join us in spreading the word on how important blood donations are! Make an appointment to donate blood and encourage your family and friends to do the same as part of Missing Types Campaign. The Missing Types Campaign is bringing awareness to a shortage of blood. Imagine if the letters A, B, and O were no longer. For example, _meric_n Red Cr_ss. The letters A, B, and O are blood types that are in need and during a blood shortage, just as the example above, they go missing.  By donating blood, or encouraging others to do so, you are moving the mission forward to decrease any missing types.

Summer is also the perfect time to begin or brush up on Disaster Cycle Services training you may be interested in or need in order to deploy during a disaster. Last fall, the Tennessee Region was one of the leading regions for sending volunteers to support operations during the hurricane season. It is important that volunteers are trained and ready when the time comes. If you are interested in supporting disaster operations, we encourage you to use this season to take the necessary training so we can continue to support when called upon.

On behalf of the leadership team at the Tennessee River Chapter, we hope you have a safe and enjoyable Summer.

Friday, June 15, 2018

East Tennessee Volunteer Spotlight, Gary Dakolias - June 2018

Our June Volunteer Spotlight is Gary Dakolias, Home Fire Campaign and Sound the Alarm, Save a Life Lead for the East TN Chapter. We asked Gary a few questions so you can learn more about him. Thanks, Gary, for your time and dedication to the Red Cross!

1. What is your favorite word? Conundrum
2. What sound or noise do you love, which do you hate? Grandkids calling for your help – people talking loud on cell phones
3. If you could try a profession that isn’t a current or past job, what would it be? Veterinarian
4. What profession would you least like to do? Dentist
5. Other than East TN, where would you like to live and why? San Diego – nice climate and close to great wineries 😊
6. What natural gift or talent do you wish you had? A great singing voice
7. Who is your favorite musician? Faith Hill
8. What historical figure would you most like to meet and why? General George Patton
9. What is your favorite color? Red
10. What are you reading—what books are on your bedside table? Elvis Cole series by Robert Crais
11. What do you love about volunteering at the Red Cross of East TN? Meeting new people and seeing how appreciative clients are with the home fire campaign.

Mid-West Tennessee Volunteer of the Month, Val Deutsch - June 2018

Our Volunteer of the Month for June is Disaster Volunteer, Val Deutsch. Val was born and raised in western Colorado and served in the Marine Corps.  Once he completed his military service, he moved to the Miami, Florida area and eventually retired from the Metro Dade County Fire & Rescue Department after having served for a number of years.  When he retired, he and his wife decided to settle in McNairy County where he now resides with his wife.

Val’s primary role with the Red Cross is serving as a DAT member is his home county of McNairy. He reminisces how it all started for him when one evening Heather Carbajal (our chapter Disaster Program Manager) came to present at the McNairy County Fire Chief's meeting. Heather was there to impress on the chiefs the need for more of the stations to contact our chapter dispatcher directly.  As she was closing out her presentation, Heather stated that if anyone wanted to get more involved in the Red Cross, she would be happy to help get the process started.  Val decided to take her up on the offer and, as he said, “the rest is history.”

When asked to share what his favorite part in his service to the Red Cross has been thus far, Val explained that he has responded to house fires and flooding incidents as a DAT member and also been part of smoke alarm installation teams. He has found them both to be surprisingly rewarding and says he could not choose between the two.

When asked to reflect on a favorite memory during his service to the Red Cross, Val said two stories come to mind. He shares: “One of my first DAT responses, I found the client had obtained the use of an unoccupied mobile home, but could not afford the deposit required to get the power hooked up.  The direct client assistance provided her with the means to start rebuilding her life.  Such a small thing, but so important to her!”

He continues: “Also, during our smoke alarm installations, we met a couple who had retired and moved down from the northeast and were planning on opening their home to foster children.  They had moved into an older wood frame home with five bedrooms but no smoke alarms.  We showed up on a Friday afternoon and got the house up to code just three days before the scheduled DHS inspector's visit.”

It’s stories like the two above that remind us why our chapter is so fortunate to have Val on our volunteer team! Please join us in congratulating him as a very deserving recipient of our Volunteer of the Month award!

Northeast Tennessee Volunteer Spotlight, Robertson Family - June 2018

When a family finds themselves out of their home due to a fire in Greene County they may experience a Red Cross response from very experienced and compassionate volunteers. Often the response comes from Summer, Louis or Kelsey Robertson.  Not only have the Robertson family been trained in disaster response by the Red Cross; they experienced the loss of their own home to a fire in October of 2016. Red Cross volunteers were at their home at 10PM at night when their family – husband Louis, wife Summer, 3 teenagers, and dog were suddenly without anything.  Summer says not only were they helped with necessities and a place to stay, the Red Cross volunteers checked with them daily as they were able to make progress on their recovery. She says it took them 3 weeks to find a rental and begin their recovery.

Summer tells me she, husband Louis, and daughter Kelsey all now volunteer for the Red Cross and have responded to families who have a local disaster – usually a fire in Greene County. They have responded together but more often respond separately. Summer has the most flexible schedule so they can respond during the daytime. She was also able to travel to Miami Florida to assist with the Red Cross response to Hurricane Irma. Louis usually responds to disasters in the evenings or on weekends.  Kelsey was recently able to assist her mother with a fire response.  Kelsey also took part in a recent simulated disaster – registering people as they came into the “shelter”. Summer has been able to assist with preparing the community for a larger disaster by conducting school inspections to ensure the Red Cross has the information needed to open a shelter.

The very best part of volunteering is the gratitude of the families they help. Summer says when the families are at their lowest point; they are so grateful for whatever help is given. The ability to give the families a few hundred dollars for needed food, clothing, or shelter may not seem like much; but to them it is much, much more. And it cannot go without saying they most certainly receive good advice and understanding from the Robertson’s!

This family certainly knows how to give back to the community! Interested in knowing how you can respond with the Red Cross in time of disaster? As a family or as an individual? Contact Angela Morris by calling 423-765-4218 or email her at

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Letter from Southeast Tennessee Executive Director, Julia Wright - June 2018

June showed up sooner than we thought, didn't it?  When I think of June, I think of summer sun, storms and swimming.

The heat, sun and water are so welcomed and inviting after a long winter, but they always bring their own set of very dangerous situations. We all know what they are but in the excitement of enjoying all of the good things those elements have to offer, we can easily forget to prepare for the worst.

Few people realize that skin can become damaged in less than fifteen minutes exposure to the sun - and that doesn't have to be on the beach. The CDC recommends broad spectrum 15 SPF or higher sunscreen application before you go outside. Wear wrap style sunglasses with UV A and B protection for your eyes and the very sensitive skin around them. The rest is no brainer stuff, like hats, umbrellas and t-shirts or light weight long sleeve shirts to avoid over exposure.

Getting into the water might sound like a fun activity that requires little skill, but knowing how to swim and handle situations that might occur in a pool, river, ocean, lake, or any kind of body of water, is smart for everyone.

The American Red Cross has created an app for just such knowledge. Learn to help keep your loved ones safe in & around water with drowning prevention & emergency response information with the Swim by American Red Cross app.   The app includes educational games and videos for kids plus a swim lesson progress tracker. The app, in combination with a Red Cross swimming course offered through the UTC aquatics center, will make you safer before jumping into the water.

Hurricane season officially began June 1st but we already saw one storm named Alberto that couldn't wait for opening day. 2018 is predicted to be an above average year with 14 named storms, of which six could become hurricanes.  Be sure to plan your vacations to hurricane territory with and emergency and evacuation plan.

I wish you a safe, sun-soaked summer!

Letter from Mid-West Tennessee Executive Director, David Hicks - June 2018

Hello Mid-West TN team!! Welcome to summer and all the fun memories I know each of you are beginning to create with your families through vacations, cook outs and community events. We had an awesome Heroes Luncheon recognition event on Tuesday, May 29th at Union University’s Carl Grant Center. Some of you were able to attend and enjoy the experience firsthand. I wanted to take a moment to congratulate our award recipients:

Volunteer of the Year: Meaghan Smith
Distinguished Service Award: Sue Vegors
Uniformed Hero Award: Dr. Mike Revelle
Humanitarian of the Year: Darryl Worley

Each of these award recipients embodies the qualities and characteristics that make our 14-county territory such a special place. There are so many people deserving of recognition in our chapter and community, but we couldn’t have chosen any better group than these!

I also want to be sure and highlight an important chapter accomplishment that took place in April and May. We reached our “Sound the Alarm” smoke alarm install goal of 350 for McNairy County! We installed alarms in Selmer, Michie, Guys, and Eastview. We ended the campaign having installed 373 alarms over a 2-week period and we have MANY of you to think for making that possible! We also reached our TN Regional goal amongst the 8 chapters in Tennessee.

As we look toward the summer months, just a reminder that our Volunteer Appreciation Day is right around the corner! We’ll all assemble at the Milan City Park at 7001 Ellington Dr. in Milan on Saturday, June 23rd from 10am-3pm. Please come enjoy a day of celebration and recognition for all your efforts toward the Sound the Alarm campaign and the other chapter achievements over the last 12 months (and in anticipation of the year to come). I hope to see each of you there!