Tag Archives: Central Coast

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.”

 

Volunteer’s heartfelt note inspires us this holiday season

During this time of year, when we remember the special people in our lives, it’s impossible to overlook the amazing work of the many volunteers who are at the heart of everything we do in the American Red Cross.

Dwayne Taaffe is one such volunteer, supporting our Central Coast Chapter’s Disaster Action Team. Following an early-morning response this week in which Dwayne and other members of our team provided “canteening” services to firefighters responding to an industrial fire in Salinas, Dwayne sent me the following email in response to a quick thank-you note. Read more

After years of direct service to clients, Lorraine Jacobs now trains other volunteers

lorraine-jacobs_420x279Earlier this year, American Red Cross volunteer Lorraine Jacobs received the 2019 Clara Barton Award given by the Central Coast Chapter. Named after the organization’s founder, the award honors a volunteer for service in Red Cross leadership positions over many years. In Lorraine’s case, one look at her Red Cross resume makes it clear why she received the prestigious award.

Beginning with a deployment in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Lorraine has exemplified outstanding service through her work with the Central Coast Chapter, our region, and beyond. She has devoted her time and care through long-distance deployment in shelters, training, information and planning, fundraising, and Volunteer Management. Lorraine, who has supported Red Cross staff and clients as both a full-fledged volunteer and employee, is currently volunteering as part of the regional Workforce Team.

Before beginning her Red Cross service in response to Katrina, Lorraine first came in contact with the organization following the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake. When the destructive quake caused significant damage to her and her family’s Soquel area home, Lorraine remembers the Red Cross sharing resources to help them with short-term rental expenses. The memory of that support has stayed with Lorraine in the years since, motivating her to continue to help people facing similar devastation and displacement.

In the following Q&A, Lorraine discusses those and other Red Cross experiences, what inspires her to respond to those in need, and what motivates her now to encourage other volunteers to do the same.

What inspired you to start volunteering with the Red Cross?

I began my work with Red Cross as a volunteer in 2005 with Hurricane Katrina. The images of the devastation, scope of the disaster, and the need for volunteers coincided with my ability to deploy at that time in my life. From a young age, I had volunteered for humanitarian causes. So the Red Cross work felt like a good fit.

What lines of service have you participated in?

In the Hurricane Katrina disaster response, I began working in a shelter and continued on to what is now called Recovery. During subsequent deployments, I worked in Information & Planning, Logistics, Staffing, Training, ERV driving, and continued with Recovery. My concentration now is on Training, and I really enjoy it.

What are some of the more challenging and uplifting moments you’ve experienced in your various roles with the Red Cross?

My experience has helped me hone my listening skills. After 14 years of Red Cross work, I am not done developing this skill. But I see it more as an opportunity for growth rather than a challenge.

My work with our clients, with people who have been affected by disasters, has also been both challenging and rewarding. The losses our clients sustain are sometimes life-changing. The challenge has been trying to figure out how I can best work with a client and help him or her move through the maze of other agencies set up to help. The reward is less simple to articulate. In fact, it is somewhat indescribable for me. When I listen to a client’s story, or help a person through difficulty, it translates to a feeling of hope. I really believe that connecting with and understanding others builds a network of common ground for shaping our future.

These days my work is more in the area of preparing other volunteers. After working in many other areas of Red Cross, I feel my skills now are best utilized in the facilitation of disaster training at Red Cross. I treasure the Principles, Values, and Mission Statement of Red Cross. Our learning platforms support these well. The opportunity exists to help volunteers find their way in our large organization by facilitating an understanding of how the Red Cross mission translates into care for others.

It is so uplifting to see volunteers progress through training and their disaster-response experiences, learn how to do the best job possible helping meet clients’ needs, and — in the process — learn a lot more about themselves.

What advice would you give people interested in volunteering with the Red Cross

There are several things I would recommend prospective volunteers do. I would recommend they start by educating themselves by utilizing Red Cross classes to choose a starting place. I think it can be very helpful to find a mentor in their chosen field. Listening to experienced volunteers and staff members is also an important step. I also always tell prospective volunteers to be flexible, as Red Cross disaster work often happens in real-time under pressure. And last but not least, I advise people to regularly re-evaluate how the work is going for them. The Red Cross is a big organization with a lot of different opportunities for service.

What does being a recipient of the Clara Barton Award mean to you?

As this award is in recognition of Red Cross work I have done for many years, receiving it from my local chapter is a particularly great honor. I am more appreciative of it than I can say.

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Become a Red Cross Volunteer: You can make a difference in Monterey, San Benito, or Santa Cruz County by becoming a volunteer with the American Red Cross. Volunteers constitute about 94 percent of the total Red Cross workforce to carry out our humanitarian work. Red Cross volunteers are trained to meet the needs of those affected by disasters, providing food, shelter, and comfort for families affected by major disasters such as fires, floods, and earthquakes as well as helping local residents prepare for and recover from emergencies of all kinds. We’ll find the position that appeals to you and allows you to use your skills and talents. Email VolunteerCCC@redcross.org to get started.

About the Author: Fleur Williams is a volunteer writer for the Central Coast Chapter of the American Red Cross. A resident of Aptos, Fleur is a freelance writer with a focus on the arts, culture, and humanity.

A silver anniversary of love

To commemorate the 30th anniversary of the devastating Loma Prieta Earthquake, our region has been gathering stories from people who experienced the quake three decades ago in an effort to encourage preparedness today. The following is a story from 2014.

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The long-term relationship between Patsy Gasca, center, and the American Red Cross began the same day the Loma Prieta Earthquake struck almost 30 years ago. This week, the Disaster Program Manager for the Central Coast Chapter took a minute to pose for a photo with Red Cross colleagues Michele Averill (left), chapter CEO, and Camilla Boolootian, regional development officer.
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By Carlos M. Rodriguez

October 17, 1989, started off as an ordinary day for Patsy Gasca. But at 5:04 p.m., the Loma Prieta earthquake struck Northern California, causing widespread damage from the San Francisco metropolis to the much smaller towns in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties. The 6.9-magnitude earthquake shook the ground for 15 seconds, changing Patsy’s life forever. Before the day was done, the 28-year-old Santa Cruz mother of three would volunteer as a case worker, beginning what has become a 25-year love affair with the American Red Cross. Read more

1989 earthquake was a life-changing moment for Red Cross’ Rick Martinez

Almost 30 years ago, on October 17, 1989, the devastating Loma Prieta Earthquake rocked most of Northern California. Particularly hard hit were Bay Area and Central Coast communities, areas that sustained loss of life and catastrophic damage. To commemorate the anniversary of this devastating earthquake, our region has been gathering stories from people who experienced Loma Prieta 30 years ago in an effort to encourage preparedness today. The following is a story that was posted on the Central Coast Chapter web site in December 2017.

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Rick Martinez was photographed at the lifeguard station on the Santa Cruz Wharf in 2017, almost 30 years after the earthquake that introduced him to the American Red Cross.

By Jim Burns

Before he embarked on a career in law enforcement almost 30 years ago, Rick Martinez dreamed of working in the hospitality industry.

“I had been very interested in doing restaurant or hotel/motel work,” he said.

Then the fatally destructive Loma Prieta Earthquake struck with mega-force in October 1989. Read more

Remembering the Loma Prieta Earthquake: 30 Years Later

loma prieta 420x279On October 17, 1989, the devastating 6.9-magnitude Loma Prieta earthquake rocked Northern California with the Bay Area and Central Coast bearing the brunt of the impact. The resulting catastrophic damage and loss of life forever changed the landscape, infrastructure, and people of the Golden State.

To commemorate the 30th anniversary, the American Red Cross is gathering stories from those who experienced the Loma Prieta earthquake. Through sharing these stories of recovery and resiliency, we hope to encourage active preparation for the next major event. If you have a memory, experience, or photos/videos from Loma Prieta, we invite you to share them with us. 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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