Author Archives: Jim Burns

Watsonville Fire Captain knows — firsthand — the value of blood donations

Danny Lucas, who miraculously survived a near-fatal hunting accident, is promoting a Red Cross Central Coast Chapter blood drive on February 21

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Danny Lucas, shown in his Watsonville backyard with his dog Stella, desperately needed two dozen units of blood to survive his brush with death. Taking time away from his own recovery, Danny is now helping to promote an American Red Cross blood drive on Friday, February 21, at the Pajaro Valley Health Trust Hall in Watsonville. (Photo: Jim Burns)
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As a 35-year veteran of the Watsonville Fire Department, Captain Danny Lucas has seen more than his share of fire- or accident-related tragedies. “I’ve had to give the worst kind of news to next of kin,” he says.

Fighting to hold back tears, he quietly adds: “I didn’t want our own sons to have to make that kind of a call to my wife.”

But, because of a hunting accident in the wilds of Montana this past November, an emergency call to Danny’s wife had to be made. Cindi Lucas was told her husband was clinging to life and that she needed to immediately travel to his bedside.

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The day of Danny’s accident, on November 20, couldn’t have been more picturesque. So much so that he had paused to snap a photo of his sons and father-in-law as they all began another day of hunting mule deer in the snow-covered hills outside Lewistown. Suddenly, a shot rang out, and Danny was struck by a large 7mm bullet.

Accidentally discharged from a rifle by a Montana resident who had joined the Lucas Family hunting party, the bullet tore through the large femoral artery of Danny’s left leg, also shattering the femur bone just above his kneecap.

His father-in-law (Ray Harris), and Danny and Cindi’s two sons (Danny Jr. and Chad) wasted no time grasping the seriousness of the situation. Bleeding profusely and in a very remote location with limited cell phone reception, Danny was in danger of dying during the roughly two hours it would take to drive him to the nearest medical facility in Lewistown.

Using Ray’s belt as a tourniquet, Danny’s family members drove toward — and were eventually able to call for — ambulance help. “The boys and Grandpa Ray did what they had to do,” Danny says now, expressing both gratitude and admiration.

Finally in a Lewistown hospital, Danny had the large femoral artery in his leg repaired during emergency surgery before being airlifted to a higher-level trauma center in Billings.

After emerging from a five-day medically induced coma in the ICU there, Danny was informed that the bottom half of his damaged leg might need to be amputated because of blood loss and nerve damage. After consultation with Cindi and other family members, Danny decided that that option would give him the best chance at successfully returning to his busy life and work in Watsonville.

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It’s late January, a bit more than two months after the accident, and Danny is back home inside the comfortable Watsonville residence he shares with Cindi and the family dog, Stella. (A family friend had flown Danny back to California, and a surprise welcome-home party at Watsonville Airport around New Year’s.)

Using a metal walker, he is learning to capably navigate the home’s interior and exterior with one good leg and one leg that he hopes will soon be fitted with a prosthetic device. Listening to him recount his near-death experience, it becomes clear that Danny is trying his best to be both philosophical and positive about an accident that now serves as a milestone marker between his past and his future.

He was hospitalized for 41 painful days, during which he received 24 units of blood, 4 units of iron, injections of red blood cells, painkilling medications, dialysis treatments, and too many IVs to count.

But Danny is trying not to focus on the ordeal, instead expressing gratitude for the family members, physicians, and other emergency personnel who came to his aid — and for the people who donated the blood that the doctors there used to save his life.

As it turns out, Danny himself had been a very regular blood donor earlier in his life. “I think I had donated a total of something like 8 gallons,” he says, recalling how he regularly attended American Red Cross blood drives at the Watsonville Women’s Club.

“Honestly, I never thought I would never have my own moment of need,” he says. “I just wanted to help others.”

But Danny’s “moment” arrived — like so many other emergencies — without notice. Miraculously, he survived his, and he’s even beginning to envision a return to an emergency fire job that will enable him to help others — like others helped him in Montana.

But while he continues to gain strength, Danny has taken time away from his recovery to lend his name to a lifesaving project that has special meaning to him now: He is willing to tell his story, hoping it will help promote an upcoming Red Cross blood drive in Watsonville. (The drive is taking place on Friday, February 21, from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Pajaro Valley Health Trust Hall on 85 Nielson Street.)

Danny plans to attend the February 21 drive to thank people personally for finding the time to make a blood donation.

“I was taught a long time ago that life is less about you and more about what you can do to help others,” he says. “People really came to my aid in my time of need, so I want to get back to giving back now that I’m home again.”

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How to schedule a blood donation: To make an appointment to donate in honor of Danny Lucas at the February 21 blood drive, use “sponsor code” WATSONVILL on the Red Cross Blood Donor App, online at RedCrossBlood.org, or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

“We are hopeful that others find Danny’s story to be as inspirational as we have,” says Michele Averill, CEO for the Central Coast Chapter of the American Red Cross. “We are extremely grateful that this very special local resident, even though he is still recovering from his own traumatic accident, is helping us call attention to the important need for lifesaving blood donations.”

 

Red Cross responds to Kincade Fire

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Smoke from the nearby Kincade Fire mars the California blue sky. Photo by Lindsay Peak, American Red Cross

To see more stories related to the Red Cross response to the Kincade Fire, please go here or see list of stories, below.
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[Updated November 4, 2019] More than 400 Red Cross workers alongside government and community partners are providing shelters, meals, health services, comfort and other support for affected residents.

  • More than 6,500 people stayed in Red Cross and community shelters in Northern California. With the lifting of evacuations orders, all shelters have been closed.
  • With partners, the Red Cross has served more than 51,000 meals and snacks, provided more than 2,500 relief items, and made more than 2,800 individual care contacts.
  • This week, at the Local Assistance Center, affected families can meet one-on-one with trained Red Cross caseworkers who will assess their disaster-caused needs, offer recovery information, help with medication and eyeglass replacement and other emergency needs, and referrals to other agencies. Financial assistance is also available to those whose home was destroyed or had major damage.

Read more

For a half century, Peg Geringer has had a love affair with her Red Cross work

peg-geringer_420x279Peg Geringer’s impact on the American Red Cross can be described in many ways: the different lines of service she has supported as a volunteer, her tenure as chair of the Silicon Valley Chapter’s First Aid Services Team (FAST), or just by some very impressive numbers.

  • Peg became an active Red Cross volunteer almost 48 years ago.
  • She began donating blood after becoming a Red Crosser, and to date has given 28 gallons.
  • She was a member of the South Bay’s FAST team for 25 years and served as chair for the last 10.

Read more

Salesforce employee shares collaborative talents with Red Cross

This is another in a series of stories we are posting on this regional blog related to the American Red Cross response to the Kincade Fire disaster:

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Chris Reese, shown at the Red Cross shelter in Petaluma last week, was also interviewed for this video about the partnership between the Red Cross and Salesforce. (Photo: Jim Burns | American Red Cross)
See more stories related to the Red Cross response to the Kincade Fire.
See photos from this response.

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Two years ago, Chris Reese decided to shift gears, leaving the technology company that had employed him so he could pursue a better work-life balance. “I embarked on a year of service,” he said, smiling.

It was also a year that introduced Chris to the American Red Cross. Read more

This Red Cross shelter is just what this trio — and hundreds of others here — have so desperately needed

This is another in a series of stories we are posting on our regional Red Cross blog related to the American Red Cross response to the Kincade Fire disaster:

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Jim Armstrong (left), Luke Armstrong, and Cynthia Jackson are grateful for the “open-armed” reception they and others have received at a Red Cross shelter in Petaluma. (Photo: Jim Burns | American Red Cross)

To see more stories related to the Red Cross response to the Kincade Fire, please go here.
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It’s fair to say that Jim and Luke Armstrong, a father-son pair who both live in the North Bay community of Sebastopol, have a well-honed habit of looking out for each other. So when mandatory evacuation orders came to their respective neighborhoods in the dark of Sunday morning, they quite naturally left town together in search of alternative housing.

With upwards of 200,000 other people getting similar orders related to the Kincade Fire, the Armstrongs couldn’t find any. Read more

Red Cross shelters in North Bay are people AND pet friendly

This is the first of a series of stories we will be posting related to the American Red Cross response to the Kincade Fire disaster:

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The Red Cross and community shelters have been people- and pet-friendly, as Debbie Chiurco and “Shorty” happily discovered. (Photo: Jim Burns | American Red Cross)

To see more stories related to the Red Cross response to the Kincade Fire, please go here.

Debbie Chiurco, a resident of the Sonoma County city of Sebastopol, had never been through an evacuation before. But her status suddenly changed when she received a leave-now order on her cell phone at 4 a.m. on Sunday. The emergency notification was soon followed up by police sirens and the knocking of caring neighbors, all reaching out to convey the same thing: The high winds that were forecast in Northern California would put Debbie at risk from the Kincade Fire; she should leave now!

With her dog and cat accompanying her, Debbie made it to a shelter the Red Cross is helping operate at the fairgrounds in Petaluma. “I just followed the cars here,” she said. Read more

Caring donors make Santa Cruz blood drive a special success

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Zoë Brouillet is following in her father’s footsteps as a regular Red Cross blood donor.
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You could almost say that helping others is in Zoë Brouillet‘s blood.

That’s why the 19-year-old Santa Cruz resident shifted gears halfway through a “Gap Year” program last year, deciding that her time between finishing high school and beginning college would be better spent in Asia helping the disadvantaged, rather than in Italy studying opera. “I decided part way through the year that I wanted to change locations so the experience could be about something greater than me,” Zoë said. “I ended up helping build water-filtration systems in Cambodia, treat Agent Orange victims in Vietnam, and conserve elephants in Thailand.”

That’s also why Zoë was one of the first people in the Santa Cruz office of the American Red Cross yesterday morning for a blood drive event. Read more

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