Tag Archives: Disaster Response

COVID-19: Regional stories, messages, and other related content

covid-19-site_420x279Updated May 29, 2020 — This post was created to provide an index of Northern California Coastal Region stories, local messages, and other resources that shed light on how the American Red Cross is responding to the COVID-19 crisis. The content includes information on important work that is continuing, engagement opportunities, and (most importantly) tips on staying safe. Read more

Red Cross nurses: a special kind of nurse

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Red Cross nurse leaders Liz Dietz, Anna Likens, Karen Isabelle, and Mary Ann Reilly chat with Larry Dietz, Public Affairs Officer of the Red Cross communications team. | Screenshot: Larry Dietz.
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The Red Cross nurse is part of a tradition that dates back to the founding of the organization and core to the Red Cross Mission of alleviating human suffering in the face of emergencies. The International Council of Nurses (ICN) has proclaimed the theme for Nurses Day 2020 as “Nursing the World to Health”.

Nursing the suffering is the stock and trade of the Red Cross Nurse. I had the honor and pleasure of interviewing nurse leaders of the Silicon Valley Chapter to learn more about what is special about being a Red Cross Nurse and to have them share some moments in their Red Cross Service that have stood out in their minds.

Red Cross nurses are indeed special.

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Red Cross adapts disaster response protocols amid COVID-19

A three-alarm fire raged through an 11-unit Millbrae apartment building on the afternoon of Tuesday, April 27. Nearly 60 residents (37 adults, 19 children) were forced to evacuate as fire departments from Millbrae and San Mateo County battled a blaze that ultimately rendered the building a total loss.

Red Cross volunteers arrived on the scene wearing masks and gloves and maintained social distancing during the response. They had also undergone health screening prior to responding, one of several steps the Red Cross has undertaken to keep both its workforce and clients safe during the COVID-19 outbreak. Read more

Project Mask is ‘sew’ appreciated

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Red Cross Volunteer Susanne Newswanger sews face masks to help keep DAT responders – and their clients – safe and healthy during the COVID-19 outbreak.
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Red Crossers know how to pivot in disaster. Since the dawn of the Covid-19 crisis, the Red Cross Disaster Action Team (DAT) has done just that – now most calls are answered virtually.

But when a DAT member mobilizes to answer a call in person, these days, they must wear a mask. So when members of the DAT team sent out a call for masks, other members of the Red Cross team responded in kind – this time with needle and thread. Thus, Project Mask was born with the following call to action: ‘”Sew” the Disaster Action Team how much they are appreciated.’

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Paying it forward

arc 420x279On January 24, 2018, Alan Freberg and Laura Bellizzi were running errands only to return to their apartment and find that their home of twenty-five years had burned down. “There were ten fire engines…there had been an electrical surge,” remembers Laura.

Laura and Alan had no prior experience with the American Red Cross. “The Red Cross was there immediately,” explains Laura. “They gave us blankets and kept offering us food…It was kind of drizzling out, and I was shaking. I finally told them I don’t need another blanket, I’m not cold. I’m shaking because my house just burned down,” Laura recalls.

The Red Cross placed Laura and Alan in a hotel for a few nights, but the most significant impact the organization made was to provide a roadmap when the structure of their life had evaporated. “They gave us guidance when we were unable to put things together for the first forty-eight hours,” reflects Laura. “They were very calming and very efficient.”

Beyond blankets and a place to stay, what stood out most to Alan and Laura was that the Red Cross could help navigate this unknown and overwhelming situation. From minute details – like advising them to write everything down because people often forget specifics when they experience shock – to a broader look ahead, Laura says the Red Cross “gave us a lot of good advice…we did everything they told us to do…and we vowed we would try to repay them.”

Inspired by their interaction, Alan and Laura sold a family heirloom: a vintage accordion. They donated the proceeds to the Red Cross. “We’re beyond grateful,” says Laura.

In their attempt to repay the Red Cross for their support, they paid it forward. Because of their donation, the Red Cross can continue to serve as a pillar for someone else when their life is unexpectedly reduced to ash.

Sarah Ward is a volunteer writer with the Northern California Coastal Region.

Pandemic hasn’t changed need for Red Cross DAT calls, just the way we’re doing them

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Jillian Balceta, an AmeriCorps worker in the Silicon Valley Chapter, also serves on the chapter’s DAT and Casework teams. She supported the DAT team on two recent calls using her computer at home.
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While the Covid-19 crisis has shuttered businesses, postponed community events, and required widespread sheltering-in-place, the pandemic hasn’t changed at least one thing: Individuals and families are still confronted with home fires and other emergencies that require critical assistance from the American Red Cross. Read more

The work of the Red Cross continues – no matter what

The past six weeks have been unusually quiet in Northern California. The COVID-19 outbreak has forced much of the population indoors on shelter-in-place orders. For many, the 9-to-5 workday is a recent memory; classrooms are eerily silent. Parking lots nationwide sit empty; all but essential storefronts are closed indefinitely. The entire country has seemingly ground to a halt.

And yet, there are segments of the American workforce that forge on stronger than ever: intrepid healthcare workers, food service employees, first responders, and American Red Cross volunteers and employees. As the largest humanitarian aid organization in the country, the work of the Red Cross is constant, as is our commitment to helping those that need us.
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