Tag Archives: Health and Safety

Silicon Valley Chapter, American Red Cross thank FAST for a job well done

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Red Cross volunteers Liz Dietz, left, and Peg Geringer were among those supporting FAST’s work in 2017 at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. Go to this album to see photos of FAST members at the San Jose Jazz Festival that same year.

On February 19, almost 50 people attended the last official meeting, dubbed the “FAST Finale,” of the Silicon Valley First Aid Services Team, or FAST. The Silicon Valley FAST was founded in 1959 and was the most active of the few FAST groups remaining in Red Cross regions throughout the country. This dedicated local team of professionals served almost 25,000 hours just from the period of January 2015 through February 2019.

During its tenure, the local FAST had become a welcome sight at many of the area’s major public events such as the Gilroy Garlic Festival, the Obon Festival, Cinco de Mayo events, the San Jose Jazz Festival, and the Nike Women’s Marathon.

The Silicon Valley team provided a variety of services from stations, carts, and even bikes and walking teams. Team members applied their medical skills to perform a wide range of treatments, from first aid for minor injuries such as blisters, scrapes, and strained muscles to major medical or trauma events. The team coordinated responses with Advanced Life Support and transportation with regional EMS units.

In addition to treatment, the team provided a range of complementary services and supplies, including blood pressure checks, stroke awareness education, sunscreen, diapers, and more than a dozen over-the-counter medications such as aspirin, Ibuprofen, and Benadryl.

The team’s leadership included a chairperson, Peg Geringer, and a licensed physician, Dr. Ian Brown, M.D., from Stanford University, who served as medical advisor. At the time of its disbanding, the local FAST had 125 members. Reportedly at its peak, FAST had over 400 members. Team members consisted of Emergency Medical Technicians, Emergency Medical Responders, Registered Nurses, and other trained personnel.

Some past highlights included the use of AEDs to save a life at the Bay To Breakers in San Francisco, saving a dog from dehydration at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, supporting the Women’s March in 2016, and providing first aid to pigs, horses, and goats at the Santa Clara County Fair.

The team was a sterling example of a volunteer organization. Team members took responsibility for all operations, whether that be training, logistics, or rendering care. The team was composed of a diverse group of dedicated professionals of all ages and served selflessly for half a century.

The community and the Red Cross owe the local Red Cross FAST a great deal of gratitude for their dedication and service. Each of the team members contributed to the welfare of the community and to accomplishing the team’s mission.

We hope that FAST members will continue to volunteer their valuable time in service to the Red Cross and the community.

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About the author: Larry Dietz is a Colonel (Retired), U.S. Army Reserve, as well as a dedicated Red Cross public affairs volunteer in the Silicon Valley Chapter.

Her son’s heroism reintroduced this dedicated board member to the Red Cross

chris-carlton_420x279Chris Carlton’s work for the American Red Cross is plenty heroic: She has served tirelessly on the Silicon Valley Chapter’s Board of Directors for seven years, including two years as board president; she is currently serving as chair of the board’s Development Committee; she has generously supported the Red Cross with financial donations, qualifying her to be a Tiffany Circle member; she has served on the Tiffany Circle Council; and several years ago she even helped draft Culture Initiative values for the Pacific Division.

With that kind of a Red Cross portfolio, it’s easy to see why Chris was selected to receive the chapter’s Clara Barton Award for 2018. The award, named after the founder of the Red Cross, recognizes a volunteer for service in a series of leadership positions held over a number of years; it was given to Chris at the chapter’s Volunteer Recognition Dinner at Testarossa Winery in Los Gatos last spring.

While Chris is proud of her Red Cross efforts, she is the first one to say that her devotion and dedication to the organization stems from the actions of the real hero of this story: her son, Evan.

Evan’s heroism occurred nearly 10 years ago, as he and a girlfriend were returning home from a San Jose Shark’s game. Waiting for a train at the nearby Diridon Station, the couple struck up a conversation with a man and his grandson. “My son turned away for a minute, and when he turned back, the man was on the ground,” Chris says. “The gentleman was turning purple.”

Without hesitation, Evan asked anyone within earshot if they knew CPR; no one responded. “So he just took it upon himself to attempt to revive the man,” Chris says. “Evan started doing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, and another person nearby subsequently joined him to start chest compressions.”

When the paramedics arrived, they attempted multiple times to restart the man’s heart with a defibrillator. Eventually, they took the victim away in an ambulance.

Evan returned home that fateful night, believing that the man he had tried to save had not made it. “He was pretty depressed about it,” Chris recalls.

Then, some two months after the incident, the family spotted an article in the San Jose Mercury News. In the column, the writer was relaying a message from a reader who was recovering from a heart attack suffered at the train station after a Sharks game. The survivor was looking for a young man he had been speaking to — and who had led the effort to save him that night. He was looking for Evan so he could thank him.

Evan’s family responded on his behalf, and shortly after that, the man (“Paul”) and Evan met. Following their exchange, Paul decided to nominate Evan for a Red Cross Award. Not surprisingly, the nomination was well received by the local chapter, and in 2010, Evan received a Good Samaritan Hero Award. (See this video featuring Evan and Paul.)

Paul was fortunate that night: Evan had worked as a lifeguard for several years, so he was skilled in CPR; and the person who assisted Evan was studying to be an EMT. “It was the two boys, basically, who worked hard to save the man’s life,” Chris says.

Her son’s lifesaving efforts did more than fill Chris and her husband with justifiable pride: The incident spurred them to both get recertified in first aid and CPR themselves. Their Red Cross training put them in touch with chapter personnel, and eventually Chris was asked to join the local Board of Directors.

“Many years ago, I had taken a first aid training class from the Red Cross,” Chris says. “I also taught a first-aid class for a while, but then my career [in high-tech in Silicon Valley] got very busy so I just had to drop it.”

But, since reconnecting with the Red Cross, Chris Carlton has more than made up for her gap in service. While her volunteer work can be time-consuming, it comes with real benefits, says the former HR executive.

“I get to work with people who are on a humanitarian mission,” Chris says. “They are down to earth, put other people first, and are willing to do whatever it takes to help others.”

In other words, she gets to work with people like her own son, Evan.

Emergency underscores value of health, safety classes

We all have been reminded of the value of periodically taking the first-aid, CPR, and other health and safety classes that are a staple of the American Red Cross. Like many of us, Nisha Baxi, a member of the Board of Directors of the American Red Cross of the Silicon Valley, did not fully appreciate the classes’ value — until a recent day in San Jose. In a “thank you” note she shared with her Red Cross colleagues, Nisha tells a story that should motivate all of us to stay current on our training. She gave us permission to post her note (and story) on this regional blog site. Read more