Tag Archives: Training Services

The Difference Between Life and Death. San Francisco Office Workers Learn Lifesaving Red Cross Skills 

Jen Bottalico, Manager at Alex. Brown San Francisco, practices chest compressions.
Photo by Marcia Antipa / American Red Cross

One recent afternoon high up inside a San Francisco skyscraper, the sounds of “Are you alright?” and “Clear!” rang out.  Red Cross CPR manikins lay between the office desks, with a dozen office workers kneeling beside them practicing chest compressions. These employees of Alex.Brown, a division of Raymond James*, were learning the basics of lifesaving first aid measures. 

Officer Manager Jennifer Bottalico and Branch Administrative Manager Cheryl Fox arranged the training through the local Red Cross office. “We decided we wanted to try to do everything we could to kind of protect our employees because we view them as family.  So, for us, it’s just that we wanted to be able to go back to them and say if we ever had an incident that we did everything that we absolutely could,” they said. 

Cheryl Fox said she and Bottalico were inspired to take steps after a colleague in another office suffered a medical emergency.  The frightening on-field cardiac arrest of Buffalo Bills football player Damar Hamlin also drove home the need to be prepared. 

“It was scary, because I don’t think you ever think somebody of his age, that that’s going to happen to somebody that’s 20-something years old. Very scary,” she said.  

Instructor Thom Volz of VCT services, a strategic partner with the Red Cross, started the class with a pep talk.  

“Know where the first aid kits are in the places we travel to regularly, so we can get this response going, know where the AED kits are,” he said. Volz also told the class it can typically take ten minutes for first responders to arrive, so it’s important to be prepared with the equipment and skills needed to save a life. 

Volz divided the class into teams of three people, who practiced CPR on the manikins. 
“We’re trying to build habits right now,” Volz told the class, “So arms locked out, lean over the person to give compressions; one cycle of CPR for adults.” 

The team of Alex.Brown in San Francisco practicing CPR and AED use. Photo by Marcia Antipa / American Red Cross

Then the teams learned to use an AED, or automated external defibrillator, a device that analyzes the victim’s heart rhythm, and, if needed, delivers a shock to restore the normal heartbeat. 

Office Manager Bottalico says after she took a Red Cross training class, she received approval from their head office to buy an AED for the San Francisco branch. 

“If somebody’s not breathing it’s a matter of seconds, so I think the investment into an AED for the office – hopefully we never have to use it – the investment is worth it. We worked with our counterparts at Raymond James …and they didn’t hesitate.” 

The teams also learned how to save the life of a person who is choking.  Office members Renee Sessa and Samantha Hsu teamed up to practice chest thrusts. For Sessa, a frightening incident that almost took a friend’s life convinced her to take this class. 

“He was 60 and he went into cardiac arrest and luckily there was somebody that was trained and was able to immediately administer CPR to him and saved his life.” 

Renee says she wants to be able to do the same for a family member or co-worker. “I hope to be able to…save someone’s life or help save someone’s life in the event of an emergency.” 

Office Manager Bottalico says the class was a success. “We can always tell by the level of questions that are asked by the team how much they are paying attention,” she says, laughing. “They all were engaged today so I think everyone realizes the value of it. People realize that sometimes it’s going to be up to them.” 

If you would like to learn lifesaving skills, or to arrange a class for your office or organization, visit https://www.redcross.org/take-a-class   


*Raymond James & Associates, Inc., member New York Stock Exchange/SIPC 
*Raymond James & Associates, Inc., is not affiliated with any of the above outside organizations. 

Service to the Armed Forces Volunteers Support ‘Wings Over Solano’ at Travis Air Force Base

By Larry Dietz, Public Affairs Officer

Photo by Samar Salma/American Red Cross

The U.S. Air Force hosted their annual Wings Over Solano Air Show at Travis Air Force Base on May 14 and 15. The show was open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on both days and featured a wide range of aircraft from the Pitts Special S13, right on through to state-of-the-art aircraft such has the B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber and the F-35 Lighting multirole combat aircraft.

Red Cross volunteers converged on Travis from all of the Northern California Coast Region Chapters – Silicon Valley, Bay Area, Central Coast, Heart of the Valley and North Bay. Under the leadership of Liz Dietz and Marilyn Byington, volunteers offered training, minor first aid supplies such as band aids, water and ear plugs. They also informed show goers about the Red Cross mission and spoke to service members about services the Red Cross offers to them and their families.

Volunteer Stuart Chessen managed logistics for the effort. More than a dozen additional Red Cross volunteers supported the event, and volunteer Salma Samar took great photos and videos.

Mary Ann “Stormy” Reilly and Stuart Chessen taught hands-only CPR, which is a relatively new technique introduced to help save lives through CPR where people are reluctant to give rescue breaths, especially in the COVID-19 era. On these two wonderfully warm days, there were kids aged 7-14 years old and some older adults who stopped by to observe, practice and learn about ‘Hands Only CPR’ and what to do if someone is choking on something. These people got down on their knees to practice, and worked hard to do what they needed, to help save someone’s life. 

Photo by Samar Salma/American Red Cross

Peg Geringer taught ‘Stop the Bleed.’ If you are involved in an incident where there is a severe, bleeding wound, the first thing to do is to call ‘911’. After that, Peg explained that you use direct pressure to stop the bleeding by putting your two hands over the wound and pressing down hard with your upper body.  If you have a roller gauze, take the end of it and start stuffing the injury with as much gauze as you can. Tie off the roll over the wound and if you have a tourniquet handy, apply it 2-3 inches above or below the wound, but NOT over a joint.  Turn the stick or windlass as tight as you can to stop the bleeding. Tourniquets are used as a LAST resort to stop the bleeding.  Cover them to prevent shock.  You may put a large ‘T’ on their forehead with a Sharpie, so the medics know the person has a tourniquet on their body.

Together these two seasoned volunteers trained about 60 people during the weekend event.

The Red Cross presence at Wings over Solano was another example of Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces support. The Red Cross provides the military services with emergency communications services, support to Military Hospitals and Veterans Affairs (VA) Health Facilities as well as by building strong families and resilient communities.

A Track Record for Saving Lives

By Alex Keilty

There was that one time Ian Wigley gave CPR to a gentleman at a card game, and then there were those other times — at a wedding, a family gathering, and a restaurant — that he helped people who were choking. It’s fair to say that Ian, an Instructor Trainer with the American Red Cross, has a great track record for saving lives. 

American Red Cross Instructor Ian Wigley

Ian teaches frequent first aid classes and says the training is important because, “You CAN help somebody. It will give you the skills and confidence to help until the Emergency Medical Service arrives.”

Ian’s classes include adult and child CPR, choking, how to stop life-threatening bleeding and how to use a defibrillator.

In addition to the people Ian has helped directly, there are also his students who go on to save the lives of others. 

One especially rewarding experience was when a student he had previously taught rushed to tell him how they had been able to assist a coworker who went into cardiac arrest. That man recovered and eventually went back to work.

“I was kind of emotional,” Ian said. “I was excited they were able to help somebody. They had managed to keep calm and do what needed to be done.” 

Class participants Andreina Pardo (left) and Gabrielle Valdez (right)

Gabrielle Valdez and Andreina Pardo attended a recent class taught by Ian. They were on a quest to get certified in first aid for their new jobs in child care.

“Before the class I felt nervous,” Gabrielle said. “Now I feel much more confident.”

They learned how to perform CPR, treat choking, and stop life-threatening bleeding. The Red Cross course they opted for was conducted partly online and partly in person.

“It’s important because you can save someone’s life,” Andreina said. “It’s to be better prepared.”

If you want to feel more confident that you can handle a first aid emergency, you can sign up for Adult and Pediatric First Aid/CPR/AED skills courses at www.redcross.org.

Central Coast Chapter volunteer is ‘truly our Clara Barton’

Tiki Dellamora represents everything that is good about the Red Cross


Tiki Dellamora is a beloved member of the Central Coast Chapter volunteer team.

Productive, dependable, and tireless are three adjectives regularly used to describe the thousands of volunteers whose work is at the heart of everything the American Red Cross does to support individuals, families, and communities throughout our country.

But take an extra minute to observe these volunteers on the job. If you do, it’s hard to overlook one other characteristic they all seemingly have in common: a sense of optimism that brings a smile not only to the faces of the many people they support and serve, but also to the faces of the Red Cross colleagues working at their side.

“In our Central Coast Chapter, perhaps no one epitomizes that can-do, joyful spirit more than Tiki Dellamora,” says Chapter CEO Michele Averill, who announced recently that Tiki was a recipient of the organization’s prestigious Clara Barton Award. Read more

‘He is meant to be alive’


Six coaches and swimmers from Santa Rosa Junior College have received the American Red Cross Certificate of Extraordinary Personal Action for their efforts to rescue a student athlete.

by Marcia Antipa

Morgan DeSalvo and teammate Megan Ference. Photo submitted by Megan Ference.

“The last thing I remember is looking up at the ceiling, and then I blacked out.”

On March 5, 2020, Santa Rosa Junior College (SRJC) student Morgan DeSalvo finished a lap of a swim team workout when a lifelong heart condition finally caught up with him.

Morgan and a few teammates were at the pool wall, catching their breath, when he slipped underwater and sank to the bottom. Swimmer Katie Morrison noticed Morgan underneath her.

“He [wasn’t] moving,” Katie recalls. “He was underwater on his back. His mouth and eyes were open.” She reached under Morgan’s arms and struggled to lift him. Teammate Megan Ference was in the next lane and hurried to help.

Read more

Leading leaders and finding gems

Laura Hovden, San Mateo Volunteer of the Year

Laura Hovden, of Woodside, CA, recently received the San Mateo Volunteer of the Year Award during the Chapter’s annual volunteer recognition event. A born leader, Laura encourages others to expand their skills and expertise and take on leadership roles of their own. Her flexibility and high aptitude for success have led her to fulfill myriad duties across the organization, including regional and divisional appointments.

Laura took a moment last week to fill us in on her experiences.

Congratulations on the recognition as Volunteer of the Year!

Thank you, I feel so honored.

When did you first get involved with the Red Cross?

I joined when my kids were graduating from high school in 2014. I wanted to have something to do that would be meaningful after they were gone. At the Red Cross, I found all kinds of interesting people and just loved doing this kind of work.

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