Friday, August 18, 2017

American Red Cross Volunteers Teach Lifesaving Skills in Myanmar

Mary and Doug took one
evening to visit the
Shwedagon Pagoda. Started
in 588 BC, it is an amazing site!
Most people do not have to clear customs in order to teach a Red Cross course. But that is what Mary Franklin of the East Tennessee Chapter along with Doug Tilford of Terre Haute, Indiana did recently. They traveled on behalf of the International Services of the American Red Cross to work with the Myanmar Red Cross Society. Both passed through customs in several countries in order to train 20 Myanmar Red Cross volunteers in lifeguarding, water safety, swimming, search and rescue, CPR, AED and First Aid skills, as well as other skill sets they would need in order to become the future Master Trainers in Aquatics for the Myanmar Red Cross Society.

One challenge they faced was not having a common language. “Working with a translator for EVERYTHING was a unique experience,” Mary said.  The other major challenge they conquered took some creativity and all of their experience (both were originally trained in 1975) to develop a process so the participants could do practice teaching sessions in their native language. This gave them the skill sets to teach skills to others and evaluate new instructors. The participants came from all over Myanmar and many were involved in Disaster Services in their own local regions. The Myanmar Red Cross is now developing the future lifeguarding and water safety programs for these trainers to deliver to their citizens.

When asked about her experience, Mary said, “We did not have time to think about the real impact that this historic training would have for Myanmar. We could only focus on the tasks for each day of training.  People have asked, why did I do it? What made it all worthwhile was, after waiting 45 minutes to clear customs at Boston’s Logan Airport, the Customs Official asked, ‘What was your business in Myanmar?’ Once again I told my succinct story. He gathered up my documents, looked at me and said, ‘Thank you! Keep up the good work!’ I am a Red Cross Volunteer, that is what I do!”.



Thumbs up for great skills!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

East Tennessee Volunteer Spotlight, Liana and James Pesterfield - August 2017

James Pesterfield
 This month, the East Tennessee Chapter would like to recognize the FAST (First Aid Station Team) leaders, Liana and James Pesterfield for all the work they do and for their commitment to the Red Cross. The Pesterfields lead one of the 10 national FAST teams with the American Red Cross. This group of volunteers provides the first aid and medical care for many special events in the local area and the surrounding counties including Tennessee football, baseball, softball, swimming and other events like the upcoming eclipse watching gatherings in and around Sweetwater.

James and Liana have both been FAST volunteers for 9 years. They have taken this program from a small number of volunteers to a large group that has contracts with Roane State, Pelissippi State and South College. The FAST team is so popular there is now a waiting list for volunteers to participate for every event! The FAST team was responsible for over 5,000 of the volunteer hours for the East Tennessee Chapter in the last year, spearheading the success of exceeding chapter’s goal.

Liana Pesterfield
In addition to doing activities with this particular team, James and Liana serve in other ways in the East TN chapter. They are some of the first volunteers to step up when there is a need in the building - from painting, to cleaning, organizing and doing whatever is needed to make the jobs of others easier.


The Tennessee Region is better for having volunteers like James and Liana that serve selflessly in so many ways. 

Southeast Tennessee Volunteer Spotlight, Robert Gould - August 2017

Robert Gould is our Volunteer Spotlight! Robert first began volunteering with the Red Cross in Orange County, New York after retiring from teaching math about 25 years ago. Robert says he became involved with the American Red Cross because he has always loved working with people. As a teacher of 33 years, Robert was drawn to the many people-oriented programs that the Red Cross offered. Because he has always found it rewarding to help others, deciding to volunteer with the Red Cross was an easy choice for him!

Since 1996, when Robert first began volunteering with the Red Cross, he has been involved with a number of programs and relief efforts. Robert speaks fondly of his time working to place smoke alarms in residences throughout New York and, now, Tennessee. After moving to Chattanooga a year and a half ago, Robert has embraced a role in community outreach. He is, and always has been, dedicated to informing people about what the Red Cross does and the many ways it helps people. He took the initiative to ride along on disaster response calls so that he could observe and understand the importance of this work. Robert also told us about his experience volunteering with the Red Cross in New York after the attacks on 9/11. He says that despite the terrible circumstances, it was one of the most gratifying experiences he has had. As one of only two people at his center in Orange County, he took on a leadership role in the relief efforts happening throughout New York. Despite his own significant contributions, Robert only wanted to speak of the generosity of others during this time.

Robert has a very unique, life-long connection the American Red Cross. His father, who was a commercial artist, painted posters for the American Red Cross in the 1950s. These posters, which portrayed the numerous programs and activities of the Red Cross, were circulated both nationally and internationally. Robert brought these materials with him to Chattanooga, where he was able to prepare and give a presentation on them at an annual Red Cross event. People loved hearing Robert talk about his father and the history of his paintings. One of Robert’s co-workers spoke of this event when nominating him for Volunteer of the Month. “Robert is new to Southeast TN, but he has hit the ground running.  He was very instrumental in helping us move and catalog all of our historical documents, pictures, etc.  He worked tirelessly to create a beautiful and informative display for our Annual Meeting and will duplicate that at our Heroes Luncheon in October.  Robert has a lifelong passion for the Red Cross.”

Several others of Robert’s teammates had great things to say about him. One wrote that Robert has “excellent knowledge of expertise that benefits American Red Cross and the community. He is involved in various ways and exceeds the expectations by doing so.”

 All of us here at the Red Cross are grateful for Robert’s tireless efforts and commitment to helping others. He is truly one of a kind!

Mid-West Tennessee Volunteer Spotlight, Haley Warwick - August 2017

Haley Warwick is our August Volunteer Spotlight! Haley has been a volunteer for the American Red Cross of Mid-West TN since May 2016. Haley currently serves as our Community Partnerships Lead, in which she builds and strengthens relationships with partners across our 14 county coverage area. Haley also serves as a Disaster Action Team Member and has been assisting with chapter recruitment and engagement. Haley consistently goes above and beyond for her team, never shying away from a chance to help a colleague or develop a new skill.  Thanks for all you do, Haley!

Heart of Tennessee Volunteer Spotlight, Anita Murrell - August 2017

The Volunteer Spotlight this month is our “kitten rescuer”, Anita Murrell.  Anita moved to Tennessee about 10 years ago from Rochester, New York, settling in Murfreesboro in Feb. 2016.  Anita was the first female dispatcher in the Rochester Police Department back in 1971, but her career ended up in logistics and transportation management.  She was also a volunteer firefighter and medic for 10 years.

Anita’s background is excellent for her Red Cross role as an Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) driver- maintaining the 6 trailers we have covering 17 counties.  She manages all aspects of the ERVs, ensuring they are serviced as needed, moved where they are needed, and ready to go for a disaster call with adequate supplies on board.

Since joining the Red Cross 11 months ago, Anita has had 6 deployments, 3 national: Hurricane Matthew, Gatlinburg wildfires, Georgia tornadoes, and 3 local: Nashville and Chattanooga tornadoes, and Cookeville storm.  She is available for all disasters as well as going out on local house fire calls.

In addition to her commitment as an ERC drive, Anita works closely with Disaster Program Manager, Todd Griffin, as his volunteer partner.  She works side by side with Todd learning the position and co-manages operations, including dispatching volunteers to fires and other disasters.

Todd Griffin gives high praise to Anita:  “I couldn’t do this job without Anita, she is my right arm and a wonderful friend.”

The kitten rescue story involves a tiny kitten that crawled up on the motor of one of the trucks at the Murfreesboro office.  After closing the doors, Anita heard something and on investigation found the little kitten.  Anita adopted the kitten, naming her Red. Red is now the unofficial mascot of the Murfreesboro Red Cross office.

Anita's words of wisdom to others in volunteering for the Red Cross: “The most rewarding job you’ll never be paid for.”

Heart of Tennessee thanks Anita for her expertise in keeping the vehicles ready to go at a moment’s notice and for all that she does for the Red Cross!

Nashville Area Volunteer Spotlight, Michael May - August 2017

The August 2017 Volunteer Spotlight is Michael May! Michael puts in a lot of volunteer hours for many different positions for the Nashville Area Chapter of the Red Cross. Michael’s positions include; Disaster Action Team captain, Disaster action Team dispatcher, Disaster Cycle services, and Disaster responder. Michael first began volunteering with the Red Cross after he retired 5 years ago.

When interviewing Michael, he said the thing that drew him to the Disaster Action Team (DAT), was the action of being able to go out and help people.

“Volunteering with DAT helps me stay in touch with the community and really makes you appreciate what you have, said Michael.”

 Michael truly enjoys volunteering with DAT, and is on call all week Monday-Friday and even at night and on weekends when he is needed. Michael is truly dedicated to helping the community!
When Michael is not volunteering for the Red Cross, he enjoys watching sports.  His favorite teams are the Tennessee Vols, Tennessee Titans and he really loves watching the Hockey play offs!

Michael volunteers as much as he possibly can for the Red Cross, and does so much for our community.  Michael is an extremely valued volunteer, and we cannot thank him enough for all of the time and effort that he puts in to help and protect our community.

Red Cross Offers Eclipse Safety Tips

Millions of people are expected to make travel plans to see the solar eclipse on Monday, August 21. The American Red Cross and emergency officials are urging people planning to travel to see the eclipse to come prepared.

·         Pack an emergency kit in case you get stuck in traffic or can’t find a place to stay. Include water, non-perishable food, a flashlight, battery-powered radio, first aid kit, medications, supplies for an infant if applicable, a multi-purpose tool, personal hygiene items including toilet paper, cell phone chargers, extra cash, blankets, maps of the area and emergency contact information.

·         Be informed. Learn how officials contact people in the area you are planning to visit in case of an emergency.

·         Let family or friends know where you are going and the route you plan to take to get there.

·         Arrive at where you plan to watch the eclipse at least a day ahead of time.

·         Check the weather forecast ahead of time and throughout the day.

·         Dress in layers so you can adjust for changes in weather conditions.

·         Create an emergency plan. Determine a location to meet in case someone gets separated from your group, and where to go if severe weather occurs.

·         Because cell service may be overwhelmed, print out your directions.

·         Know where you’re staying at night. Hotel rooms along the eclipse route are mostly sold out, and rentals are extremely high in some cities. Plan to camp if necessary.

·         Keep your gas tank full so you don’t run out while stuck in traffic.

·         Download free Red Cross apps to help you be better prepared.
o   The Red Cross app “Emergency” can help keep you and your loved ones safe with instant access to large-scale event tips, weather alerts as well as the location of any open Red Cross shelters.
o   The Red Cross First Aid App puts instant access to information on handling the most common first aid scenarios at your fingertips including heat emergencies. Download these apps by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in your app store or at redcross.org/apps.


·         If you are planning to view the eclipse, remember, looking directly at the sun is unsafe. For steps to take to observe a solar eclipse safely, please refer to information from NASA at eclipse2017.nasa.gov/safety.