Friday, August 29, 2014

Kenneth Brown: Plough Foundation Volunteer of the Month - Mid-South Chapter

The volunteer of the month is no stranger to the American Red Cross.  He has been extremely active in Disaster Cycle Services (DCS) for over a decade.  He has been with the Memphis Fire Department since 1998 and with the Mid-South American Red Cross since 2000.

Nominated by DCS, this volunteer continues to perform double-duty to support the chapter.  Through his professional connections, he has assisted the chapter in preparing and responding.  He is responsible for engaging members of the community, including seventeen Red Crossers, in becoming part of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and ensuring all are trained and ready to answer the call in times of disaster.  To find out more about this training and see pictures of the Mid-South Chapter in action, visit
In 2000, after experiencing first-hand the comfort the Red Cross provides, our Volunteer of the Month decided he needed to be part of the organization that showed up to offer a helping hand. At first, he directed all of his United Way contributions to the Red Cross. But before long, he was down at the Mid-South Red Cross building on his days off taking disaster preparedness courses.

He began driving an Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) to emergency sites, spending many of his days off offering assistance to his fire-department colleagues, and other workers and persons affected by emergency situations. He became a member of the Disaster Action Team (DAT), which responds to assist people who have been displaced from their homes when disaster strikes. Soon, he was tapped to be a DAT Captain, a role that he still fills. He is also a Disaster Assessment specialist, a function that is essential after a disaster strikes to determine exactly where and how much assistance is needed from the Red Cross.

In addition to his work in the local community, this dedicated individual also deploys with the Red Cross to assist with national emergencies. He has been deployed over a dozen times since 2005, including deployments to assist with Hurricane Gustav and Katrina recovery efforts.

When not busy with the Red Cross, he serves as a Chaplin for the Memphis Fire Department. He is also a member of Tennessee Task Force One, an emergency response agency sponsored by the Memphis Emergency Management Agency and co-coordinated through the Memphis Fire Department; he teaches Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) courses; and he is also a liaison to the City of Memphis Office of Emergency Management that helped to establish a partnership with the Department of Parks and Recreation to identify and survey shelter facilities that can be utilized by the American Red Cross.  He was instrumental throughout the summer, especially during the severe flash flooding that occurred in late June.  He worked to identify shelters, set them up, manage the sites while opened, and many more vital functions during the month of July. 

We are excited to announce that our Plough Foundation Volunteer of the Month is Kenneth Brown. We are honored to have him serve in numerous capacities and represent the organization.  Brown has been instrumental during the recent disaster operation and continues to be an integral part of the Mid-South Chapter through his dedicated service as a DAT captain.  We are grateful for Kenneth’s service and thankful that we can honor him as the August volunteer winner for his commitment to the Red Cross. 

How to Keep People and Pets Safe during the Last of the Summer Heat

Although we have had a mild summer, temperatures are increasing as we head into September.  Excessively hot and humid weather has killed more Americans than any other weather-related disaster. Heat waves are defined as extended periods of hot, humid weather that is 10 degrees higher than average for the time of year. Elderly populations are much at risk during hot weather, particularly if they lack access to air condition. Companion animals are also under much threat, as they become overheated easily and cannot ask for help.

Keep your family safe:
Never leave children in vehicles, even for short amounts of time. A few minutes of intense heat can kill children and infants.
Stay hydrated by drinking copious amounts of cold water. Avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks, including soda. Keep drinking water hourly, even if you do not feel thirsty.
Wear weather-appropriate clothing that is loose, lightweight and light-colored.
Stay indoors during the hottest part of the day, typically late morning to early evening.
If you must work outside, always work with a friend and take frequent breaks.
If experiencing a heat wave, postpone outdoor activities and exercise until temperatures cool.
Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air-conditioning, particularly elderly individuals and anyone who lives alone. Seniors have the greatest risk of heat stroke.
Listen to local weather forecasts and be aware of heat watches, warnings and advisories.
Prepare for the possibility of power outages and always have an emergency kit on hand.
If you see someone experience a heat cramp, move the person to a cooler place and have him or her lie back and massage the muscle. Give an electrolyte-containing drink or water.
Beware of heat exhaustion signs, such as flushed, pale or moist skin, headache, nausea, dizziness and weakness. Move the person to a cooler environment, remove or loosen clothing, apply cool, wet cloths to skin and offer water. Call 911 if the person vomits or does not improve.
Notice heat stroke signs, including high body temperatures, red skin, rapid or weak pulse, shallow breathing, confusion, vomiting and seizures. Call 911 immediately and try to cool off the person through immersion in cold water, sponging with ice-water or covering in bags of ice.

Keep animal companions safe:
Never leave animals in the car, even for a few minutes with the windows cracked. The temperature inside of vehicles can easily reach over 120 degrees in a short period of time.
Know the risk factors: Dogs with short snouts such as bulldogs, boxers and pugs are at a particularly high risk for heat stroke. Animals that are overweight, elderly, have thick or long coats or are prone to upper respiratory problems should be monitored in hot or humid weather.
Know the signs: Animals developing heat stroke may engage in heavy panting, may appear frantic or are unable to stand up, and may be experiencing brick-red gums and a high pulse rate.
Act quickly: If possible, take the animal’s temperature and beware of a body temperature of 105 or higher. Quickly cool the animal off with a hose or other source of cold water and then rush him or her to the nearest animal hospital. Heat stroke damage acts quickly and can harm organs.
Prepare: Bring animals indoors during excessive heat and always provide fresh, cold water. Know what is normal for your companion – his or her body temperature, heart rate, breathing rate and gum color – so you can stay on the lookout for warning signs.

Stay prepared for all possible emergencies by keeping up to date with CPR, AED and First Aid training. Certifications must be updated every two years and classes can be taken at any time. For those who live with or work with animals, pet CPR and First Aid are particularly useful. Finally, download the First Aid app to your smartphone. You never know when you need life-saving information at your fingertips!

Red Cross Tips for a Safe Labor Day Weekend


Many people will be taking road trips, spending time at the beach and having cook outs this weekend. The American Red Cross offers safety tips to help everyone have a safe and enjoyable time.

Everyone should take a few simple, safety steps when spending time on the road, at the beach or lake, and at cook outs.  Start by downloading the free Red Cross mobile First Aid and Swim apps.

People should also follow these safety tips:

Tips for Safe Travel
• Take emergency supplies such as food and water, a flashlight and a first aid kit.
• Let someone know your destination, your route and when you expect to arrive.
• Buckle up and obey traffic signs.
• Avoid texting and talking on the phone while driving.
• Don’t drink and drive.

Tips for Safe Swimming
• Check weather and beach conditions throughout the day.
• Always swim in an area supervised by a lifeguard and obey all warnings.
• Provide close and constant attention to children in or near the water.
• Stay within arm’s reach of young children and inexperienced swimmers while they are in the water.
• Young children, inexperienced swimmers and boaters should wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets.

Tips for Safe Grilling
• Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
• Keep children and pets away from the grill.
• Never add charcoal starter fluid after coals have been ignited.
• Use long-handled utensils.
• Don’t leave the grill unattended while in use.

The Red Cross has a series of mobile apps in case people run into severe weather or need expert advice on what to do in case of an emergency. People can go to for information.

Mid-South Chapter - Laura Vaughn - August 2014

Disasters can strike quickly and often without warning. While you are enjoying the upcoming Labor Day holiday, take time to ensure your family and home are prepared for emergencies. September is National Preparedness Month and we are encouraging Mid-South families to get ready now for the next emergency or disaster.

Having a game plan in place is essential for all households so everyone knows what they should do when an emergency occurs. National Preparedness Month is a perfect time for Mid-South residents to create or update their plan.  Here are some ways to get Red Cross Ready:

It is important that everyone in the household helps put the emergency plan together and knows what s/he should do if something occurs. Household members may not be together when a disaster happens – during the day many people are at work and school. The plan should include ways to contact one another and two predetermined places to meet – one near the home in case of a sudden emergency like a fire, and one outside the neighborhood in case circumstances prevent people from returning home. People should also identify an emergency contact person from outside the area in case local telephone lines are overloaded or out of service.
Any emergency plan should also include decisions about where family members will go if ordered to evacuate and what route they will take to get there. It’s a good idea to include alternate routes in case roads are closed. If pets are part of the household, make sure to include plans for them such as pet-friendly hotels and animal shelters along the evacuation route.

The Red Cross has free mobile apps that provide information on what to do before, during and after emergencies including developing an emergency plan. People can use the ‘Make a Plan’ feature in the apps to create their plan and then share it with their loved ones. The preloaded content in the apps gives people access to vital information to use during emergencies, even if they can’t connect to the internet. The apps can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross.

Another step to get one’s household ready is to build an emergency kit in a container that is easy to carry so the family can use it at home or take it with them if asked to evacuate. It should contain a three-day supply of water (one gallon, per person, per day), nonperishable food, a flashlight, battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra batteries, a first aid kit, a 7-day supply of medications, a multi-purpose tool, sanitation and personal hygiene items and copies of important personal documents. The Red Cross also recommends having at least two weeks of emergency supplies at home.

Everyone also needs to stay informed about what types of disasters are most likely to occur where they live or where they plan to visit. It is also important to take a First Aid and CPR/AED course—a vital component of disaster preparedness in case emergency help is delayed.
For more information on how to prepare for emergencies, people can visit or contact your Red Cross of the Mid-South at 901-726-1690.

Red Cross Participates in Welcome Home Event for Veterans and Families

The Jackson Area Chapter and Northwest Tennessee Chapter of the American Red Cross participated in the 8th Annual Welcome Home for Veterans and Families Event on Saturday, August 2nd. The event honored our veterans who served in Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), and Operation New Dawn (OND). Approximately 250 veterans attended the event along with 15 staff members and volunteers from the Red Cross.

Volunteer Sandi Libis and Northwest Chapter Executive, Debra Roberson, (pictured) manned the resource table.

Two of our youth volunteers, Nikki and Braden, pictured with disaster program manager, Chris Kirtley, and Izzy: VA therapy dog extraordinaire!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Regional CEO Corner with Joel R. Sullivan - August 2014

Labor Day is upon us!  The end of summer is here and many are planning their last chance to travel, hit the beach and fire up the grill. As we get close to the end of Summer, we need to keep safety in mind.  The American Red Cross offers safety tips to help everyone have a safe and enjoyable holiday.  I have listed below a few key tips that will ensure a safe and fun holiday weekend. 

Tips for Safe Travel
·         Carry an emergency supply kit in your trunk.
·         Let someone know your destination, your route, and when you expect to arrive.
·         Buckle up and observe speed limits.
·         Don’t drink and drive.

Tips for Safe Swimming
·         Check weather and water conditions beforehand and throughout the day.
·         Always swim with a buddy in a designated swimming area supervised by a lifeguard.
·         Provide constant supervision to children in or near the water and always stay within arm’s reach of young children and inexperienced swimmers while they are in the water.
·         Young children and inexperienced swimmers should wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets.

Tips for Safe Grilling
·         Keep the grill away from the house, tree branches, or anything that could catch fire.
·         Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
·         Keep children and pets away from the grill.
·         Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited.

In the event you do find yourself in an emergency situation, don’t forget to rely on your Red Cross apps that you have downloaded.  One in particular that will be useful is the First Aid App for smart phones and tablets which provides users with expert advice on what to do in case of an emergency. This free app is available on the Apple iTunes or Google Play stores and at  For more information on emergency preparedness, go to  Additional water safety tips are located at

Have a safe and enjoyable holiday and get ready for football time in Tennessee! 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Red Cross & UPS Support Children at VA Hospital

One of the new designated children's activity areas at the Nashville VA Hospital. 

As younger veterans enter the healthcare system, they bring their families to medical appointments and older veterans bring grandchildren. Children often get restless while waiting with their families and the VA Hospital staff recognized the need for easily accessible activities in a designated space. The American Red Cross Service to Armed Forces program, with generous support from UPS, recognized this need and created a solution, entitled “Our Youngest Patriots: Veterans Affairs Military Child Inclusion Project.”

On Thursday, August 14th, the new designated children’s activity areas were revealed at the Nashville VA Hospital. The “busy fingers mobile cart” offers a variety of small toys, puzzles, crayons and coloring books to keep kids occupied. There is also a child-size magnet table and chairs along with many books to choose from.

The American Red Cross is proud to serve our youngest patriots. We appreciate the kind support of UPS, who made this project possible. 

The Memphis VA Hospital will also receive a donation of activities for children for their waiting area.

DAT+GRAM - Nashville Area Chapter 8/21/14

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Three-Year-Old Hero Alerts Family to Home Fire

On Sunday, August 17th, a fire started upstairs at an apartment in Gallatin, Tennessee, while two family members were asleep. The youngest resident, Kyngzton, 3, heard the smoke alarm go off. He immediately alerted his grandmother, who didn’t hear the smoke alarm. They were able to wake up the other two family members and everyone was able to get out of the apartment safely, thanks to Kyngzton.

Kyngzton’s family had a working smoke alarm upstairs, but their downstairs’ smoke alarm was not working. It is important to have a smoke alarm on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Nearly two-thirds of all fire-related deaths occur in homes that have no functioning smoke alarms. Working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in home fires by half. You should test your smoke alarm every month and replace batteries each year or if the equipment emits a low-battery warning. Other steps you should take regarding smoke alarms are:

- Keep smoke alarms clean by vacuuming over and around it regularly. Dust and debris can interfere with its operation.
- Install smoke alarms away from windows, doors or ducts that can interfere with their operation.  
- Never remove the battery from or disable a smoke alarm. If your smoke alarm is sounding “nuisance alarms”, try locating it further from kitchens or bathrooms.
- Replace smoke alarms every ten years.

It is also very important to teach children what the alarms sound like and what they should do when they hear it. Kyngzton recognized the smoke alarm’s sound and knew exactly what to do, by alerting his family.

Families should also plan and practice fire escape routes – ideally, two exits from every room.

The Nashville Area Red Cross is assisting the family of four with food, clothing and transportation.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Sometimes Heroes Wear Crowns

By Scott E. Toncray, APR


Miss Tennessee 2014 Hayley Lewis received her First Aid and CPR certificate at the Nashville Chapter of the American Red Cross

Hayley Lewis, 21, Miss Tennessee 2014 recently performed lifesaving skills she learned from being an American Red Cross Certified Lifeguard. A fellow pageant contestant choked on a piece of chicken and Lewis’ instincts kicked in enabling her to clear the airway of the other contestant who is also her friend. Lewis also had to perform CPR on a drowning victim when she was a lifeguard. “I just figured that it was time to renew my skills realizing how important they are,” Lewis said following the First Aid and CPR class at the Nashville Area Chapter of the American Red Cross. Sixteen other participants were certified the same night as Hayley. Her story was featured on the local Fox News affiliate.

“I can’t imagine anyone not being around who could help someone if they needed it to prolong their life,” Lewis said encouraging others to take the class and become certified. Lewis participated in a blended course that includes both online and practical classroom experience with learning totaling approximately 5 hours. “Life threatening situations can happen to anyone and I wanted to learn skills so that I could help someone again if they ever need it,” Lewis explained.

Miss Lewis will represent the state of Tennessee in the 2015 Miss America Competition on Sept. 9-14, 2014 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

In the Nashville area, nearly 7,000 people a year receive Red Cross training in CPR, first aid and other skills that help save lives. The American Red Cross offers courses where ordinary people can learn extraordinary lifesaving skills, such as how to perform CPR, how to use an AED, what to do if someone is choking, and how to prevent and respond to other emergencies until advanced medical help arrives.

Visit or call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767, option 3) for more information and to register for a class. 

Lewis practices how to save a choking victim on Red Cross Volunteer Scott Toncray

Miss Tennessee 2014 Hayley Lewis learns CPR at the Nashville Chapter of the American Red Cross

Scott Toncray is a public affairs volunteer for the Nashville Area Chapter of the American Red Cross and serves on the Advanced Public Affairs Team.