Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Last Thursday we honored some local heroes for doing amazing things; watch their videos for some inspiration. Stories include those of people like Brian Otto, a Chicago firefighter who saved a child from drowning in Lake Michigan and Irving Ibarez, an office worker, who performed CPR on a coworker and effectively saved his life. It’s pretty inspirational stuff.
You can be our hero by signing up as our fan on Facebook and by following us on twitter. This week we’re even having a contest (with prizes, not that you need that type of incentive) to see who can recruit the most fans to our Facebook Causes page. We even have a poll you can fill out and let us know what type of information you want to hear about from us from us.
This is unrelated but I know it’s top of mind for many; if you’re looking for Swine Flu info visit the CDC web site they’ll have the most up to date info on this situation as it evolves.
Additionally here’s an ABC-7 press conference from yesterday about Swine Flu, featuring Dr. Damon Arnold, giving some other tips about how to avoid Swine Flu. (there’s a very loose connection here to today’s whole hero theme, Dr. Damon Arnold-now the state public health director who is speaking in the press conference news clip, received an American Red Cross of Greater Chicago hero award two years ago).
Monday, April 27, 2009
We apologize for our absence – it has been a bit crazy over here in Disaster Services.
Last Saturday, Sam was deployed to Mena, Arkansas to assist those affected by a string of tornadoes. Sam worked with the Disaster Assessment Team and the Client Casework Team to not only reach out to those whose homes were damaged, but also used his computer skills at Headquarters to make sure everything was organized and accounted for. While most deployments are between two and three weeks, the team in Mena was able to assist those in need in a much shorter time – Sam came back to us Thursday and is once again ready to roll with Greater Chicago’s Disaster Services team.
Back on the home front, Chicago’s DAT Responders were busy as ever! This past weekend, we responded to ten incidents! Thanks to our dedicated volunteers, we made sure that everyone affected by fires in their homes were safe and sound with food, clothing, shelter and necessary medications. Way to go guys!
And now – some exciting news!!
The American Red Cross needs all you Facebook-ers to help spread the word!
Greater Chicago is having a FanRaiser and is giving away some neat prizes for those who help out!
FIRST STEP: Become a member of our Causes page.
The person who recruits the most fans will get an Eton Radio, a self-powered and water proof radio, perfect for emergencies.
The person who recruits the 2nd most fans will get a neat vintage Red Cross bag!
If you happen to recruit the 3rd most, or less, you get to feel good that you helped the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago in their efforts to raise some fans. And if you do that, I’d treat yourself to some ice cream.
Friday, April 24, 2009
Given the conception of our newest Facebook page for the
On my first HAPPY FRIDAY blog, I alluded to the prevalence of social media, and the fact that everybody’s involved. In fact, Facebook currently has more than 200 million active users worldwide, followed by MySpace at 106 million users, with Twitter quickly gaining ground as the fastest growing social media site with 55 million users.
And you’d be surprised who’s plugged in. The fastest growing
This phenomenon has really taken off, and it’s not exactly a new thing. What is new is that it’s not just us youngsters dominating this space anymore. Mommy bloggers talk about everything from diaper rash creams to tips about how to schedule a weekend quickie with the hubby. Clearly this social media thing has turned into a utilitarian tool for everyone. What used to be a venue for IT geeks and gamers trading tips and tricks about their esoteric world has turned into a true marketplace of ideas, where you can subscribe to whomever you’d like (and their theories or outlook, or whatever) and follow their every move as they posit and prose about what they think stuff means, and interpret the world from their point of view.
Meanwhile, those of you not interested in following some lame, self-absorbed raconteur can use this same social media platform to (re)connect with old friends whom you actually want to chat with, and catch up. Given the regional mobility of the
It’s a mixed bag, this social media thing. I personally love it, but some may find it too intrusive. A classmate did a presentation on how college football and NFL recruiters make fake Facebook pages to friend possible recruits to get the real story about them before committing. And a funny thing about this guy, someone made a fake Facebook page about him! And he’s not even a college football or NFL candidate.
And then you have people who ruin it for the rest of us, by posting stuff like the Domino’s Pizza video, or Ashton Kutcher and his ridiculous attempt at beating the biggest presence on Twitter, CNN, by advertizing to try to get more followers, which he did. This kind or blasphemy flies in the face of what it means to have a social network. If a powerful media personality or a news source uses their resources to penetrate into the social media sphere, it ceases to be genuine and it will lose its best quality – being user-generated.
The point is this social media thing is a moving target. We’re making the rules as we go, and it’s a fun ride. The best thing is that there’s something for everyone. We all have our space online, and we’re making the most of it.
One last thing – before you log off from your computer, come follow us on Facebook. It’s a bare bones page right now, but we’re working on it. We welcome any suggestions, and please, no fake profiles. There’s no dirt here pal!
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Imagine that the entire America Red Cross is like one great big ship.
That’s right, a ship.
Then what are the Red Cross volunteers like?
Not the cargo.
They’re not the crew.
They’re certainly not lounging on the pool deck.
Nope, if the Red Cross is a ship, the volunteers are the sea.
Red Cross : Ship :: Volunteers : Sea.
I like it. It seems pretty darn true.
Without volunteers, we’d have no direction, nothing to keep us afloat. We’d just be a bunch of planks and goodies parked on some shore.
Our volunteers are also like a great big powerful body of water because they can put out fires. Not literal ones, we let the fire fighters do that. But they quench the smoldering embers of despair that follow home fires.
Almost EVERY day in Chicago, a Red Cross volunteer comforts a victim on a home fire. The kind that start in people’s homes—in toasters, furnaces, cigarettes—and then take everything away. This happens here in Chicago more than 1,000 times EVERY YEAR.
Our volunteers wake up in the middle of the night to help disaster victims figure out what to. It’s emotional, dirty, important work.
They are also CPR instructors. File-cabinet czars. Tech-experts. Feeding-truck drivers. Greeters at fundraisers. Phone-answerers.
Our volunteers do everything. They are leaders, and there’s lots of work to be done here. Thanks to all of our volunteers, and thanks to you for caring about us. I hope you’ll join in soon.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
I debated with myself whether or not I ought to share this tragically ironic vignette. With the encouragement of Oana and Martha, who heartily insisted that this would make a nice parable for the blog, I acquiesced.
A few weeks ago, Martha had asked me to research and write a press release on whether or not there were a higher number of choking incidents during the Lenten season due to a supposed increase in fish consumption. A veteran fish eater and a fairly sensible adult, I could not imagine choking on my food. Baffled by the request, I fished around all over the World Wide Web to find statistics on hazardous foods. Indeed, fishbones where frequently mentioned along with the top ten most common edible choking culprits in children: hot dogs, candy, popcorn, peanuts/nuts, carrots, grapes, meat, apples, cookies, and peanut butter. Often times, kids have not learned how to chew their food properly.
Consequently, I found that this was yet another important reason why knowing CPR and basic first aid is just so important. My research showed adults are just susceptible to choking hazards as children. And should a choking incident persist, there is little time to react when the victim loses consciousness. Scary, I thought, but what were the odds of this happening to me? Little did I know that a few days AFTER Lent was over, I would be in the emergency room “choking” on irony.
Last week, I was hungry and in quite a rush when I sampled a curious Filipino fish dish that was laying out on the table. The first few bites were fine enough, but something went terribly wrong soon thereafter. To say the least, the fishbone was not going down very smoothly. I thought that if I continued to swallow, it would eventually pass, right? WRONG. It the irritation in my throat became more persistent and acute. My mother tried giving me a banana. The banana did not work for me either, Maria! Perhaps a scoop of rice? That did not work either. Water? No. I was able to breathe and talk, but only with increasing discomfort.
Panicky over the lessons learned in writing that press release, I feared that the rest might come true! What if it led to choking? Then, there would only be little time to respond with CPR. Was my family prepared? My sister did not know CPR, but thankfully, my mother is a nurse. We went to her hospital’s ER to get this fishy problem squared away. Luckily, it did not escalate to where I was truly choking, but it was still uncomfortable. While swearing off fish for the time being may not be the most rational idea, I am very excited to be taking a first aid/CPR/AED course with my sister next week.
Mishaps happen, but being prepared is no accident. Take a class and be aware of the common foods and household objects that may be potentially hazardous to your family.
Christina Ponsaran, Marketing and Communications Intern
Friday, April 17, 2009
Last week’s FOX primetime hit show, “Lie to Me” featured Red Cross volunteers during a disaster sequence. The episode ‘Life Is Priceless’ included a building collapse as the investigative team discovers a massive cover-up. In true heroic fashion, the brave men and women of the American Red Cross were called to respond to this staged disaster, much like the many thousands of real disasters they attend to every year across the world.
Based on real-life scientific discoveries, actor Tim Roth plays Dr. Cal Lightman, the world’s leading deception expert who studies facial expressions and body language to tell if someone is lying. The show airs Wednesdays on FOX at 7:00 p.m. CT. Check the Web site for local listings. The main character, Dr. Cal Lightman aided by his colleague Dr. Gillian Foster (Kelli Williams), detects deception by observing body language and microexpressions through the Facial Action Coding System, using this talent to assist clients (such as law enforcement).
The character is based on Paul Ekman, notable psychologist and expert on body language and facial expressions. Dr. Ekman and his colleague, Dr. Maureen O'Sullivan, identified "naturals" in what is known as The Wizards Project, which identified 50 people with the ability to spot deception after testing 15,000 people from all walks of life. In real life, they call these "naturals" Truth Wizards, or wizards of deception detection.
To prove the show is based on real science, Lie cuts from examples of the characters lying to real-life examples of famous people lying — though odds are some of those people would argue with both the usage and description. It's a far more precise technique than The Mentalist's loosely defined and applied observational skills, and, for a while, it's entertaining. But a mere two episodes in, the trick already feels overly restrictive and overdone (some of the expressions are so obvious a 6-year-old could read them), and that's not a great sign of staying power.
Fundamentally, Roth's Dr. Cal Lightman is the latest in a long line of master detectives with highly developed powers of observation -- he's Sherlock Holmes with a PhD (and three assistants instead of one) and a close cousin to the characters currently featured on "The Mentalist" (phony psychic turns cold-reading talents to crime-busting), "Psych" (super-perceptive police consultant pretends to have psychic powers to make himself seem more credible, oddly) and "The Closer" (Southern belle LAPD detective knows when you've been bad or good).
While product placements like Coca-Cola on American Idol or Apple on The Apprentice are very expensive and often disparaged by audiences as networks and movie studios leverage their captive audience to marketers, the American Red Cross receives this valuable exposure at no cost. Quite the contrary – shows and organizations the world over line up to partner with the Red Cross, to align themselves with one of the most well-respected symbols of humanitarian aid on the globe.
“Lie to Me” is another sign that then Red Cross continues to symbolize emergency response and disaster relief. Together with our new partners and supporters, we hope to be able to continue to make a difference, and we count on everyone in our communities to help us make this possible.
Please consider donating today, - or support your local Red Cross Chapter in whatever way you can.
Thank You and HAPPY FRIDAY!
Monday, April 13, 2009
Two Sundays ago, my dog Sanford wasn’t acting like himself. He was lethargic and vomited a few times. I wasn’t overly concerned at first. That changed several hours later when his condition worsened.
Because I took an American Red Cross pet first aid and CPR class last year I was able to recognize the signs of dehydration and also to realize when the situation had gotten to the point where he needed to see a vet right away.
After a series of X-rays and tests in the wee hours of Monday morning, we learned he had eaten something that caused an obstruction in his intestines. He required immediate emergency surgery and by 10 a.m. that morning, my 14 pound furry baby was draped, anesthetized and undergoing major abdominal surgery. A few days and two dozen or so metal staples later, Sanford was on his way to recovery. Oh and yes he did have to wear “that cone thing” on his head afterward but...he didn’t seem to mind.
A recent story on on WBBM 780 about online dog licenses says that Chicago is home to 500,000 dogs so there’s at least that many dog lovers here-likely more because some homes have more than one pet parent. Yet I don’t think that many of us have taken the time to take a class or read a book about to care for our furry family member in the event of an emergency. Have you?
Our web site sells books on cat and dog first aid and CPR as well as classes you can take. The class is great and the pet manikins are fun to learn on. They are used to show you the proper techniques to do things like splint injured limbs and perform CPR on your pet. The manikins you practice with in the class look like big stuffed animals but their lungs rise and fall when you blow into their snouts.
Here’s a video from the Daily Herald about how to perform pet CPR.
I have one more recommendation for all those pet lovers out there; look into pet insurance, see what’s out there and consider your options. Caring for your four legged best friend can be expensive. April is National Pet First Aid month; learn what to put in a pet first aid kit and more here.
Has your pet had an emergency? Tell us about it. Did you know what to do and most importantly was your pet OK?
Martha Carlos is admittedly a little obsessed with her pup, but then again what dog lover isn’t?
Friday, April 10, 2009
Ironically, Good Friday commemorates the day Jesus Christ was crucified. According to the King James Bible (John 19:17-22), with identical versions in other scriptures, Jesus was brought before Roman Governor Pontius Pilate for trial. The trial – The Sanhedrin Trial of Jesus – was an event reported by all the Canonical Gospels of the Bible.
The accounts declare that after Jesus and his followers celebrated Passover as their Last Supper, Jesus was betrayed by his apostle Judas Iscariot, and arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus was then put on trial by Jewish authorities to determine whether his guilt, in their eyes, justified handing him over to the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate with their request that the Roman Empire put Jesus to death on popular demand from the people.
As early as the first century, the Church set aside every Friday as a special day of prayer and fasting. It was not until the fourth century, however, that the Church began observing the Friday before Easter as the day associated with the crucifixion of Christ. First called Holy or Great Friday by the Greek Church, the name "Good Friday" was adopted by the Roman Church around the sixth or seventh century.
There are two possible origins for the name "Good Friday". The first may have come from the Gallican Church in Gaul (modern-day France and Germany). The name "Gute Freitag" is Germanic in origin and literally means "good" or "holy" Friday. The second possibility is a variation on the name "God's Friday," where the word "good" was used to replace the word "God," which was often viewed as too holy for commoners to speak.
According to Wikipedia: In many countries with a strong Christian tradition such as Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru, the Philippines, Mexico, Venezuela, the countries of the Caribbean, Germany, Malta, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, the day is observed as a public or federal holiday.
In the United States, Good Friday is not a government holiday. Private businesses and certain other institutions may close or not for Good Friday, according to their preferences. The stock market is closed on Good Friday. However, the vast majority of businesses are open on Good Friday.
Unfortunately, Good Friday for Italians this year was dedicated to the burial of 205 countrymen who died from the catastrophic earthquake that rocked L'Aquila, an ancient town located 75 miles northeast of Rome.
The Times of London reports that Vatican officials prepared to hold mass funerals for victims of Monday's earthquake. The Pope has given special permission for the funeral to be held on Good Friday, where normally the only masses held are in commemoration of the Crucifixion. He will tonight hold the traditional torchlit Via Crucis (Stations of the Cross) procession at the Colosseum in Rome.
Italian Red Cross rescue teams were on the scene of the disaster within an hour after the earthquake struck, searching for people trapped in the rubble and providing emergency care for the injured. The Italian Civil Protection Services have also responded and are taking the lead in coordinating response activities.
Working in close coordination with Italian Civil Protection Services, the Italian Red Cross has activated its national operations center, as well as four regional offices, to respond effectively to the growing needs of survivors.
With up to 10,000 buildings in the city believed to be badly damaged or destroyed, the Italian Red Cross anticipates growing needs for shelter, warm clothes and food for the survivors.
The American Red Cross will continue to monitor the situation and communicate with the Italian Red Cross and International Federation, and stands ready to provide assistance if requested.
For the latest information on Red Cross relief efforts, visit http://www.redcross.org/ and regardless of your religious beliefs, dedicate a moment of silence for those who perished in this week’s earthquake, and support the Red Cross so we can continue to serve the world in times of need.
Thursday, April 09, 2009
If you are a Red Cross volunteer or donor, we invite you to join us for a Sunday Jazz Brunch on April 26 as we celebrate and acknowledge you for your dedication of time, talent and service. Enjoy our brunch buffet while being entertained by a jazz band trio. The event will also feature guest speaker Hill Harper of the hit CBS show CSI: NY! In addition, we’ll be distributing chapter milestone pins and giving away some fabulous door prizes.
Don’t miss out on this great event Red Cross donors and volunteers!
Honoring Our Volunteers: Past, Present and Future
Sunday, April 26, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
IUOE Local 399 (Union Hall)
2260 S. Grove Street, Chicago, IL 60616
FREE parking is available
To RSVP, visit our website at www.chicagoredcross.org/volevent or call 312.729.6141 by Monday, April 20.
Monday, April 06, 2009
The fire spread to five different buildings on the block, leaving three destroyed and two others in questionable condition. As our responders arrived on scene they were confronted by more than the usual difficulties of a large scale incident, the household members were Spanish speaking.
Here is a link to the article published in the Chicago Tribune about the incident:
Chicago is one of the more diverse cities in the United States, so language problems are not an unusual occurence when responding. Thankfully, we have found a few different ways to make the language barrier a non-issue when trying to help those in need. We have quite a few volunteers/DAT responders who can faciliate our services in multiple languages, and even more that have a working knowledge of a different tongue. Also, we have found that there are quite a few bi-lingual police officers working for the Chicago PD that are more than happy to lend a hand when on scene. Communities members, such as neighbors, have also been able to assist as translators.
BUT we could always use more!
Although Spanish is the most prevelant second language, it is not the only other one spoken in Chicago. We encounter many different languages while responding to incidents.
If you are reading this and know a second language help us avoid being lost in translation, come help!
During this specific incident we were able to send one of our volunteers who is fluent in Spanish to the scene, drastically improving our ability to help. When it was all finished we were able to service 29 people!
Be safe everyone,
Lily and Sam
Friday, April 03, 2009
In today’s entry, I’d like to discuss the growing real estate segment for first time buyers. First-time buyers are benefitting from incredible deals, favorable lending conditions and move-in ready dream homes available for moderate prices, and I’d like to share some great tips to get you started on the road to home-ownership.
This is especially relevant to my fellow 20- and 30-somethings around the country who were lucky enough to avoid (or financially unable to enter) the real estate rush of the past few years, and are now in the position to buy. Your patience has paid off because now’s the perfect time to buy.
Since I’m currently in this position myself, I figured I could pass along some stuff I’ve recently learned about this topic and encourage those of you who are considering buying to conduct some research of your own, and seriously consider the opportunities that are out there. I’ll provide some useful tips and links, and as always welcome suggestions for additional material from readers.
The current glut of housing stock has led real estate agents, banks and brokers to reduce listing prices of overvalued homes, putting formerly unattainable properties within reach of first-time buyers. Previously hard to find situations like foreclosures and short sales abound in today’s real estate market.
Here are five quick tips to get you started down the road of home-ownership
- Where do I start? Check your credit score!
■ Today’s minimum score for first-time buyers is still 620! A great score is 740+.
■ Need to improve your score? – never pay for credit repair...ask your mortgage broker for free assistance!
- What type of loans are available in this economy?
■ There are still Government loans with as little as a 3.5% down payment with great fixed rates!
■ Sellers can still pay for your closing costs!
- How much can I afford based on my income?
■ A good rule of thumb is having your total mortgage payment at no more than 31% of your gross income.
■ With historically low rates – you can qualify for more house for less money!
■ Family members can still help with down payments too!
- Why should I buy now?
■ Rates are temporarily at historic lows!
■ The Government is offering an $8000 credit to first-time homebuyers! (Be sure to ask your mortgage broker for more details on this)
■ Great home prices! Sellers are more than willing to reduce their prices to sell!
■ There are plenty of Short-Sales and Foreclosures available that are well below market value!
- With so many mortgage companies available, who do I choose? ...who do I trust? ...what do I compare?
■ Always check with a few mortgage brokers to compare – regardless!
■ Always ask for a Good Faith Estimate – this will show the rate and estimated closing costs. Use this to compare offers.
■ Always meet your mortgage broker face-to-face!
■ Check with someone who just purchased a home – see if they would recommend the mortgage broker they used!
If you do find the home of your dreams for the right price, don’t forget to keep it, and your family, safe by preparing your emergency kit. Have at least three days of supplies in an easy-to-carry evacuation kit, with additional supplies on hand.
Your list of supplies should include:
■ First Aid Supplies
■ Protective Clothing and Bedding
■ Special Items
Remember to check your kit and replace the stock every six months.Store your disaster supplies in sturdy yet easy-to-carry containers, in a place that is easily accessible. Keep a smaller version of the kit in your vehicle. If you become stranded or are not able to return home, having some items with you will help.
Make sure your emergency disaster supply kit is stocked and ready. Create your own, or buy a starter Supplies Kit from the Red Cross online store or by calling 1-800-33-SAFETY.
That’s it for today’s edition. For those of you in the market for a home, I wish you luck. For those of you considering this step, I suggest you do some research, but take this seriously. Either way, be prepared and get a kit – it could save your life.
Thursday, April 02, 2009
As with many Mexican mothers, life's emergencies are resolved with tactics that balance myth and true science. A banana is not the way to help a choking child, nor anyone for that matter. BTW, my mother has since taken a CPR class and at least in the choke rescue department, she is relying on science for the next emergency.
For all those out there who will be eating fish tomorrow, beware of the bones. And if you think you are not ready for the moment when someone will surprise you with the international sign of choking (hands at throat), get yourself to a class (there are still openings in our extended CPR Training Days event) or at least watch this video.
I know you all grew up with some crazy or very sensible ways to get out of choking emergencies. Tell me about it! I want to hear them.
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
I couldn't be happier to be serving my community under the banner of the American Red Cross. As a resource development intern, I know that I'm supporting an organization that provides life-changing services to people who need it most, and as a Disaster Action Team volunteer I can see the mission of the Red Cross being fulfilled in the smiles of those whom we have served after a local disaster has occurred.
A passion for humanitarian services has been welling up inside of me ever since I began to know the homeless community in my hometown, Downers Grove. Working at a local coffee shop I witnessed the toilsome and nomadic lifestyle of these destitute people and began to build relationships with them. When I learned of the many circumstances and conditions that can lead to such a life, I developed a strong compassion for those who are in need of support from the community.
That’s why I volunteered to serve at the Red Cross of Greater Chicago. When a family is forced out of their home because of a flood, fire, or any other disaster, the next few days/weeks of their lives will determine how extensive the effect of their displacement will be. That’s where the Red Cross comes to the rescue. We provide food, shelter, clothing, medical and emotional support, and much more for our neighbors when they need it most. And we couldn’t do it without the financial support of our donors, who give generously even in this challenging economic climate. Thank you to all those who support our humanitarian mission, your donations of time and money have a major impact on the well-being of our community.
To become a volunteer or to make a donation to the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago, please visit our web site
George J Hofmann II
Development Operations Intern, Disaster Action Team Volunteer.