The American Red Cross increases aid to flood-ravaged Pakistan

Financial support and relief supplies totaling $1 million sent to help flood-affected communities

A family wades through flood waters while evacuating Baseera, a village in the Muzaffargarh district of Pakistan’s Punjab province.


Washington, D.C., Tuesday, August 17, 2010 – As flood waters threaten to engulf new communities in the south of Pakistan, the American Red Cross is increasing its support to $1 million to help families affected by the worst flooding in that country in more than 80 years.“The extent of the devastation is massive, with the Pakistan government now estimating 20 million people are significantly affected by the floods,” says David Meltzer, senior vice president of international services for the American Red Cross. “With food supplies and crops destroyed, millions of people will need food aid, water and emergency relief for months to come.”

Thousands of Pakistan Red Crescent volunteers continue to distribute relief items, reaching approximately 350,000 people since the flooding started. And all of their available mobile emergency units are out in flood-affected communities and have now provided medical care to more than 30,000 people across the country.

The global Red Cross and Red Crescent network estimates that, in the near term, at least 6 million people will need emergency humanitarian assistance, in the form of safe water, tents and shelter materials, and medical help.

According to the United Nations, waterborne diseases continue to pose a risk to millions of people, especially children, living in the flood-affected areas. Contaminated water and the lack of medication are causing some of the main flood-related illnesses, such as respiratory tract infections and diarrhea, to be potentially deadly. Snake bites have also become a major medical issue.

In the northwest of the country, where the flash floods first struck, the waters have receded in many places and the devastation resembles an earthquake more than a flood, with bridges collapsed and houses destroyed. In the south, much of the affected area is still underwater, but hundreds of villages and countless thousands of acres of standing crops are still submerged, and the waters may not recede fully for more than a year.

Until now the American Red Cross had already pledged $250,000 for Pakistan relief – $150,000 worth of tarps, blankets and kitchen items as well as $100,000 in immediate financial support.

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation’s blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or join our blog at


Services to Armed Forces: In war zones even heroes need consoling

by Sarah Forgany / KENS 5 San Antonio: Click here for link to KENS website. 

SAN ANTONIO — Imagine being isolated 7,000 miles away from family, friends, everything you’ve grown up to know your entire life. It’s not far fetched. It’s the life thousands of young American men and women are living now, to protect us, to fight for our freedom.

The men and women fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan are American heroes, but even heroes need consoling at times.

In a war zone – that sense of comfort is often given by a support team of Red Cross volunteers like Natalie Holbrook.
“I have lived nearly 12 years overseas, from 1998 – 2010 in Japan, England, Germany and now Kuwait,” Holbrook said.

Holbrook spent four months in Kuwait this year before returning home to San Antonio. She has had a passion for helping people, and she was able to do just that. Her job in the Middle Eastern country was to pass emergency communication messages between soldiers, contractors and their families.  

“Twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year, the Red Cross sends emergency communications to deployed service members on behalf of their family,” Holbrook said. “They relay urgent messages.

Holbrook is a paid staff member of the services to Armed Forces department of the American Red Cross.

The job is not easy. She recalls working for months without a day off, in harsh conditions, hot weather, sandstorms, small rooms and shared showers.

“One has to be willing to learn the ins and outs of working within a structured military environment as well,” she said. “We sometimes deal with emotionally distraught service members worried about their loved ones. Our job is to listen and let them vent.”

One moment stands out in her mind. Holbrook says she will never forget the young sailor who had just learned the news of his grandfather’s death.
“I sat him down and started a case,” she recalled. “The next day he was on a plane headed back to Wisconsin. He was able to go on emergency leave to attend the funeral. When he returned he said he was very grateful to us for our small part in helping him get home. I still keep in touch with him.”

The Kuwait office is very significant in this respect, Holbrook said. It is the gateway country from which all service members enter theater. Red Cross volunteers are able to track the exact whereabouts of an individual and unit during transit.

But when she’s not dealing with emergencies, Holbrook says they set up morale events such as fun runs, and movie days. They ran the HIDE AWAY OASIS, a canteen service shop that carried books, coffee, snacks, two flat-screen televisions, DVDs, and lending library games.

“We also hand out donated items such as razors, shaving cream, cookies, games, all donated by the American public,” Holbrook said.
The Red Cross provides services to more than 2.5 million active duty military personnel, the National Guard and Reserves and their families.

“No person would be able to perform a job or properly function through their day knowing their families are in distress,” she added.

For Holbrook, the experience is emotionally rewarding, because even the strongest of men and women need comforting, Holbrook said. They need to know their families are safe.

“We support the service members and other DOD affiliates because they are humans beings and not because of the uniform they wear or the job they do,” Holbrook said.

While not on the job, Holbrook is a Red Cross health and safety instructor and volunteer at the San Antonio chapter. Soon she says she’ll be heading to Germany to back-fill for another staff member going to Iraq.

Many may consider Holbrook a hero herself. She’s helped hundreds of our uniformed men and women get through the toughest of times, in a land far far away from home.

But Holbrook admits she’s the one that walked out of this experience with emotional rewards, and making amazing friends.

The best part about it all?

“Honestly, I can’t say,” she said. “It was all great.” or call 224-5151 and ask for services to the Armed Forces.

American Red Cross Lakeland Chapter Responds to Three Incidents in the Past Four Days

The American Red Cross Lakeland Chapter Disaster Team has been has been called out three times in the last four days.

Friday, August 13, four disaster volunteers assisted 100 search and rescue workers in Menominee, MI. We provided food and beverages to keep the workers safe in the hot and humid conditions.

Sunday, August 15, Red Cross responded to a house fire in the city of Oconto. The fire displaced five adults and one teenager.

Two American Red Cross Disaster Volunteers assisted the clients based upon their immediate emergency need with lodging, monetary assistance for clothing and food. We also provided comfort kits (which include soap, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, washcloth, comb, facial tissue, deodorant, razors, shaving cream and lotion) and homemade quilts.  

Monday, August 16, three disaster volunteers responded to a duplex fire on the east side of Green Bay around 10:30am.  The fire displaced seven adults and seven children.

Based on the clients immediate emergency need we provided them with monetary assistance for groceries and storage containers. We also provided comfort kits and homemade quilts. The families are staying with relatives.

“These responses again emphasize the importance and need for financial support year round to help people in need,” said Steve Maricque, Executive Director, American Red Cross Lakeland Chapter.  “During the summer months we typically see a downturn in giving.  Financial help now is critical to our being able to deliver services.”   

Red Cross disaster assistance is free and is made possible by community donations. You can help individuals of this disaster and others by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross Lakeland Chapter’s local disaster relief fund. For information call the Lakeland Chapter at 920-468-8535 or visit

 About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation’s blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or join our blog at

Kitchen fire causes $20,000 in damage to Green Bay duplex; Red Cross Responds

By Charles Davis • • August 17, 2010

Cooking oil left on the stove may have led to a kitchen fire Monday at a duplex on the Green Bay’s east side. 

Crews arrived just before 10 a.m. to smoke coming from the single-story duplex at 1712 Amy St., said Battalion Chief Ed Jarosz of the Green Bay Fire Department.

Investigators aren’t sure of the exact cause of the blaze, but do not suspect foul play, said Capt. Chris Heil of the city fire marshal’s office. A ruling on the cause likely will be announced today, Heil said.

The fire was extinguished within 15 minutes of firefighters’ arrival and appeared to be contained to the kitchen, Jarosz said. No one was injured, but the fire displaced 13 people.

The Lakeland Chapter of the American Red Cross provided the residents with money for groceries and other essentials, spokeswoman Jody Weyers said. She said the displaced residents all found housing with relatives.

Neither unit in the duplex had working smoke detectors or carbon monoxide detectors.

“If this had happened in the middle of the night, this could have been a lot worse because of the (lack of) smoke detectors,” Jarosz said.

A family member said cooking oil was left on the stove while some members were asleep.

The property is owned by John and Debra Buckmaster of Oneida and valued at $475,000, according to Brown County land records. The Green Bay Fire Department reported that the fire did at least $20,000 in damage.

Our Nation is Better Prepared for Major Disasters Five Years After Hurricane Katrina, but More Needs to be Done

By Dawn Miller, American Red Cross Volunteer

The epic hurricane season of 2005 was a defining chapter in American Red Cross history. Five years ago, Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma changed the lives of millions of people across the United States, and prompted a response by the Red Cross that was unprecedented in size and scope.

Even before media images of destruction and despair jolted the nation, trained Red Cross responders were already in action. Generous donors from across the country and around the world made it possible to mount one of the largest disaster responses in American history – a response that tested the limits of the Red Cross.

Approximately 350,000 residences were destroyed or severely damaged – ranging from southeastern Texas across the Gulf of Mexico to the Florida Keys. The demand for help was enormous. Donors gave the Red Cross a total of $2.2 billion for people affected by the storms, and with the help of 245,000 Red Cross disaster workers, many of them volunteers, the Red Cross assisted millions of people by providing shelter, food and other basic needs.

The Red Cross had more than 3.8 million overnight stays in shelters across 31 states and the District of Columbia – seven times any previous record. Nearly 68 million meals and snacks were served, four times more than what the Red Cross had ever provided during past relief efforts. Emergency financial assistance was provided to 1.4 million families – about four million people.

Local Efforts: The Lakeland Chapter of Northeast Wisconsin was there to help with relief efforts. From August to December in 2005, the chapter deployed 52 volunteers to assist in the recovery of affected areas. For many of these volunteers it was their first deployment. And though they worked 10-12+ hour shifts only to find the sleeping accommodations to be minimal, many have said they would do it again when needed.  “It was truly a life changing experience for me,” said Jeanne Harris, Lakeland Chapter Volunteer.


Operation Broadcast Hope - Northeast Wisconsin Media Joint Fundraiser

Much was also done right here in Northeast Wisconsin to help in relief efforts. The Lakeland Chapter and volunteers assisted over 180 individuals who relocated to be with friends and family to our area. Area blood donors came forward to ensure a safe supply was available for our region and more, so blood could be directed to the affected regions and hospitals where people were evacuated. Fundraising efforts and donors within our area raised more than 1.226 million dollars, which were directed to the gulf coast region.

What we learned: Relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina were larger than anything the Red Cross had handled before. Since then, the Red Cross has reset the bar on responses to large-scale disasters, improved the capacity for response, and increased the availability of resources.

The number of trained volunteers has increased from 25,000 to nearly 95,000, with 50,000 of them available to travel to help with disasters around the country.  Relief supplies are pre-positioned in areas of the country prone to disasters – enough resources to respond to devastation twice the size of Katrina. Ongoing planning occurs at the local, state and national level to respond to large-scale disasters.

To serve the area, a dedicated team of Lakeland Chapter volunteers is trained to assist individuals who have been affected by disaster. The Lakeland Chapter serves an eight county area: Brown, Door, Kewaunee, Marinette, Menominee (WI), Oconto, Shawano and Menominee (MI). There are over 450,000 people living within this jurisdiction that covers 5,746 square miles. The volunteers take on-call shifts and are ready to go at a moment’s notice.

Partnerships are established with national and local organizations who lend the Red Cross their specific expertise and human resources. The use of technology has expanded – the National Shelter System is easily accessible online and the Safe and Well site has improved in ways that will help families better connect during and after disasters.

Perhaps the biggest lesson learned from five years ago is that the government and the Red Cross will never be big enough to do it all in every disaster. Everyone must play a role. The nation needs communities that are better prepared, with every person, business, school and house of worship ready to take care of themselves and their neighbors.

Preparedness is Key:

Families need to plan how to deal with disasters. They need to know what emergencies are most likely to happen where they live, learn, work and play. It’s important to plan what should happen if family members are separated. They need a way to keep informed before, during and after a disaster. And a family member should be trained in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and first aid.

Businesses, schools and organizations need to have proper safety and emergency supplies on hand, as well as staff trained in CPR and first aid. They need to plan on how they will continue to operate in a disaster, and work to ensure their employees are prepared at home so they can return to work soon after an emergency.

Volunteers are vital to the many services the Red Cross provides including preparation for local and national disaster. There are a variety of volunteer roles that can fit any schedule and the Red Cross provides training based on the volunteer interests of the volunteer. The only requirement is a commitment to helping neighbors. Those interested in more information about the many volunteer opportunities at the Lakeland Chapter can contact Jody Weyers at 920-227-4287 or

Large disasters will strike this country again. The fifth anniversary of the hurricanes of 2005 should be a reminder that the unthinkable can happen and that everyone must do their part to prepare. The investments made in preparedness today can save lives and livelihoods tomorrow.

Contact the Lakeland Chapter or visit– and learn what steps you should take to Be Red Cross Ready!

Wrap up: Social Media Grows Up – Red Cross Emergency Social Data Summit

Macon Phillips, Special Assistant to the President and Director of New Media at the White House, speaks about his experiences during Hurricane Katrina.

Thursday, August 12, 2010 —

Could a “tweet” help save a life? It can, and it has. Although many people know social media as the realm of mostly lighthearted tweets and status updates, a growing contingent are seeing—and using—this technology as a tool in emergencies.

The research backs it up. A recent Red Cross survey asked 1,058 adults about their use of social media sites in emergency situations. It found that if they needed help and couldn’t reach 9-1-1, one in five would try to contact responders through a digital means such as e-mail, websites or social media. If web users knew of someone else who needed help, 44 percent would ask other people in their social network to contact authorities, 35 percent would post a request for help directly on a response agency’s Facebook page and 28 percent would send a direct Twitter message to responders.

Addressing this trend, the American Red Cross recently hosted an Emergency Social Data Summit at its headquarters in Washington, D.C. More than 150 people—leaders and experts in the government, social media, emergency response and the non-profit sectors—attended the full-day summit to discuss better ways to handle information that flows through the web during disasters.

Red Cross President and CEO Gail McGovern opened the summit with remarks, emphasizing that these issues are ones that could save lives. “I can’t think of anything more noble and exciting than that,” she said.

Empowered through Social Media
Macon Phillips, special assistant to the President and director of new media for the White House, was a volunteer during Hurricane Katrina. Working in a Baton Rouge shelter, he saw children looking for their parents, and parents looking for their children, yet matching them was difficult. Multiple organizations and systems were having trouble coordinating and sharing information.

“It left me believing in the transformative power of the web, and how it could be used in crisis situations,” Phillips said.

He also commented on the empowering nature of social media and its ability to let one individual change reality. “One person can take a photo. One person can post a message…and it changes all our understanding of a situation immediately.” People have always wanted to help—and now they have the tools.

Andrew Noyes describes how Facebook has helped the public respond during disasters.

In the five years since Hurricane Katrina, social media has exploded, and its potential for use in crises was clear after the Haiti earthquake. Patrick Meier is a director of crisis mapping at Ushahidi, which is a platform that unifies data gathered from multiple sources (SMS, e-mail, web) and distributes it onto a visual map or timeline. It was used after the earthquake to map actionable information, using the volunteer efforts of thousands of people around the world.

Melissa Eliott Whitaker was heavily involved in the Haiti relief effort as a volunteer. Positioning herself as the “everyman,” Whitaker emphasized the power that regular citizens have during emergencies. Using new media allowed Whitaker and others to get people food, water and critical medical attention after the earthquake. “Every individual can make a difference by stepping up and using the tools available,” Whitaker said.

A group of panelists discussed the technology behind social data and how they are being used in crises. Andrew Noyes, manager of public policy communications at Facebook, noted Facebook’s involvement after the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, as well as after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, explaining how the platform is educating the public and letting them know how they can help.

Behind the Technology
The rapid, exponential growth of social media—and the bells and whistles of new technology—are exciting. But Craig Fugate, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), reminded the audience of the ultimate goal.

“Do not focus on the technology, the tools or the gizmos,” Fugate said. “Focus on the outcomes we are trying to achieve. Social media can empower the public to be part of the response, not as victims to be taken care of.”

One thing is clear—the public’s use of social media in crises is growing. One of the many challenges this presents is the ability of first responders and governments to monitor this information and act on it in a timely manner.

In a June 2010 survey of the DomPrep40, an advisory board of disaster response practitioners and opinion leaders, nine out of 10 respondents said they are not staffed to monitor social media applications and respond in a major event. Furthermore, 90 percent of respondents also felt that the public expects some action based on social media applications.

Representatives from local, state and federal government cited their own experiences with social media, from local tweets and posts during “Snowmaggedon” to text messages sent in Haiti that resulted in Marines evacuating people who needed help.

Merni Fitzgerald, public affairs director for the Fairfax County, Va., government, discussed one of the challenges of this new media, remarking that while her county’s 9-1-1 systems operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, no one is monitoring social media around the clock.

The social media, disaster response, non-profit and government leaders had a working lunch to brainstorm ways to better aggregate and respond to information on social media sites. Participants discussed how social media tools can be used to distribute preparedness information ahead of a disaster as well as tips on what people can do afterwards.

“We can help prevent emergencies from becoming disasters,” said Brian Humphrey of the Los Angeles Fire Department.

The first people to respond during a disaster are not usually trained responders or other professionals—frequently, they are simply bystanders. The enormous potential of social media is to leverage this fact to turn bystanders into lifesavers.

As people in distress turn to Twitter, the Red Cross seeks the most efficient ways to respond

Thursday, August 12, 2010: By Susan KinzieWashington Post Staff Writer

After the earthquake in Haiti, the American Red Cross began receiving tweets from people trapped under collapsed buildings. With much of the country lacking cellphone service, people sought help however they could.

But the Red Cross, like many other disaster-relief organizations and emergency responders, didn’t have a good way to handle those pleas. Relief workers went through messages manually, contacting search-and-rescue teams, trying to pinpoint locations. It was the first big sign that humanitarian response was being changed dramatically by new technology.

But if someone screams for help on Facebook or Twitter, will anyone hear?

In an online survey of 1,058 people released this week, the Red Cross found that people are increasingly using social media in emergencies, and agencies such as police and fire departments are using it to issue warnings. But most are not ready to respond to electronic distress calls. Ninety percent of first-responders said they don’t have the staffing to monitor incoming messages and respond rapidly.

On Thursday, the Red Cross will lead a discussion at its headquarters in downtown Washington with emergency-response leaders, technology experts and at least one social media swami to try to sort through the challenges of coordinating response to floods of real-time information. “We’ll have 100 people live-blogging in the [Hall of Service], in the same place where people were rolling bandages during the first world war,” said Gail McGovern, president and chief executive of the Red Cross.

Some 70 percent of those responding to the Red Cross survey said emergency agencies should be monitoring social media.

People are working quickly to create new models. During recent hurricanes, some built instant networks posting information about flooding, road closures and evacuation routes onto maps.

Facebook, which got more than 1,500 status updates a minute soon after the Haiti earthquake, created a global disaster relief page. Techies held a “hacks of kindness” meeting.

And CrisisCommons, a volunteer network based in Washington, quickly created tools such as a Creole-to-English translator that rescue workers could use on their phones and interactive street maps using phone-based location technology. “The more people get trained and understand how to use the tools that are available, you’re going to see a lot more people helping out their neighbors,” said Heather Blanchard, co-founder of CrisisCommons.

As tech experts conjure solutions, the Red Cross plans to use social media to send a message: In an emergency, call 911. It’s still the best way to get help fast.

UWO to participate in full-scale emergency drill today!

Clow Social Science Center, 805 Algoma Blvd.

The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, the City of Oshkosh and Winnebago County will conduct a full-scale emergency response exercise Thursday, Aug. 12, 2010.

The field portion of the exercise will be focused in and around Clow Social Science Center (805 Algoma Blvd.) on the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh campus. Other facilities being used include Reeve Memorial Union (748 Algoma Blvd.), Radford Hall – Student Health (777 Algoma Blvd.), parking lots around Clow and additional emergency operations centers operating at several off-campus locations. Officials leading the exercise would appreciate if individuals would avoid the area surrounding the Clow classrooms.

Road closures will include Algoma Boulevard at Woodland Avenue to Osceola Street, High Street at Woodland Avenue to Osceola Street, and Osceola Street at Pearl Avenue. Closures will run from 8 – 11:30 a.m.


The exits for parking lots that empty onto High Street or Algoma Boulevard will be blocked until 11:30 a.m. In the event of an emergency need to leave those parking lots, contact University Police at 424-1212.

The exercise will involve emergency personnel and vehicles from local law enforcement agencies, including the University Police. Set-up for the exercise will begin at 6 a.m. and the exercise is scheduled to end by 12:30 p.m.

More than 300 participants, including local and county law enforcement officers, firefighters, EMS personnel, hospital staff and volunteer “victim” actors, will participate. The full-scale exercise will offer UW Oshkosh, first response agencies and local jurisdictions the means to test their skills in real-time, to gain the in-depth knowledge that only this type of realistic experience can provide and to build coordinated capacity for incident response.

Agencies participating in the exercise include the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh (including Police, Administration and Counseling), Winnebago County (including Emergency Management, Sheriff’s Department/Dispatch and Public Information), Oshkosh Fire/EMS and Police Departments, Neenah Police Department, Menasha Police Department, Appleton Police Department,  Mercy Medical Center, Aurora Hospital and the American Red Cross.

The drill will involve a high degree of realism, including actors posing as “victims” who may appear to be injured. Members of the community traveling in the area may see police officers with weapons drawn and hear gunshots; this activity will be clustered in and immediately outside of Clow only. Reeve and Radford will be used only by volunteer “victim” actors.

Be aware that all weapons will be thoroughly checked by trained exercise safety officers and will only fire “simunition” training rounds. These rounds sound like gunfire but do not project a bullet only a tiny, colored soap pellet. Be assured that all registered exercise participants will be provided eye protection and all other safety gear required for their level of activity but that it is critical that other people not associated with the exercise stay away from the area.

Signs will be posted explaining that the activity is only an exercise and participants will be clearly indicated.

PGA, Tall Ships Festival, Packers Game…..

Red Cross Offers Tips to Keep You Safe During all These Fun Outdoor Activities!


As temperatures continue to soar across the United States, the American Red Cross encourages people to learn safety tips that will help prevent problems during one of the hottest summers on record. According to the National Weather Service, heat is the number one weather-related killer in this country, ranking higher than floods, lightning, tornadoes and hurricanes combined. Ten states are reportedly seeing a combination of excessive heat and humidity.

In addition to the blistering weather, a tropical storm warning is in effect from Florida to Louisiana, including the city of New Orleans. A storm is expected to bring three to five inches of rain to the area, with winds gusting as high as 35 mph. A tropical storm warning means that tropical storm conditions – heavy rain and winds – are expected within the warning area in the next 36 hours. Those in the potentially affected areas can visit the preparedness section of our web site to learn how to remain safe when the storm hits. 

Excessive heat can lead to sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. To avoid problems during one of the hottest summers ever, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids and avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.  

Other steps you can take to be safe during the heat include: 

  • Never leave children or pets alone in enclosed vehicles.  
  • Eat small meals and eat more often.
  • Avoid extreme temperature changes.
  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.
  • Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat.
  • Take frequent breaks if you must work outdoors.
  • Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.
  • Check on your animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat. Ensure your animals have water and a shady place to rest.

If someone is experiencing heat cramps in the legs or abdomen, get them to a cooler place, have them rest, lightly stretch the affected muscle, and replenish their fluids with a half a glass of cool water every 15 minutes.  

If someone is exhibiting signs of heat exhaustion (cool, moist, pale or flushed skin, heavy sweating, headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness exhaustion), move them to a cooler place, remove or loosen tight clothing and apply cool, wet cloths or towels to the skin. Fan the person. If they are conscious, give small amounts of cool water to drink. Make sure the person drinks slowly. Watch for changes in condition. If the person refuses water, vomits or begins to lose consciousness, call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number. 

Heat stroke is life-threatening. Signs include hot, red skin which may be dry or moist; changes in consciousness; vomiting; and high body temperature. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately. Move the person to a cooler place. Quickly cool the person’s body by giving care as you would for heat exhaustion. 

For more information on what to do during this heat wave, visit

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation’s blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or join our blog at

Life of a Disaster Volunteer!

Guest Blogger: Carmen Bierstaker, Disaster Team Volunteer

Carmen collecting donations for the Firefighters' Bucket Brigade 5.27.10

After watching all of the Red Cross Volunteers assisting those affected by Hurricane Katrina, I felt a need to do something here in Green Bay.  I met with Jody and realized that the Red Cross a had alot of opportunities for me to volunteer – but I was soon to find out that those that helped with the hurricane were part of a Disaster Action Team (DAT) – and this team would soon be my new family.  I have met alot of great people and new friends that make up the DAT team including our fearless Judy Gregory.  Ms. Judy as I like to call her.

During the past 3 1/2 years I have taken several classes to help prepare me to assist families that have been displaced due to fires, flooding and wind/tornado damage.  I have gone on several fire calls for personal residents, large and small apartment buildings, and have helped with mock disasters for the Kewaunee Nuclear Plant and Austin Straubel Airport. 

 I work full-time, but am still able to volunteer my time as a lead on one of the evening teams.  Every 8 weeks, my team member Perry Robinson and I are on call for an entire week  Monday thru Thurdsay 6:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. and Friday 6:00 p.m. until Monday 6:00 a.m. (24 hour on-call during the weekend).  The 8 week rotation allows us to know which week to slightly adjust our personal lives.  

On Monday of my scheduled week, I make 2 calls – one to Perry to let make sure he’s available and to tell him I hope not to talk to him all week (we all know if we have to call our team member that means someone is in need of assistance)  and the next call goes to Red Cross dispatch to give them my phone number.

I don’t sit home while I’m on-call I just make sure that pen and paper is nearby and that I’m within 20 minutes of the Red Cross garage.  When we get the call from dispatch, we are given: name, address, size of family, and a fire department contact name and phone number.  My first call goes out to Perry to have him meet me at the garage, the next call goes out to Judy.  Our black bags are in the suburban with all needed paperwork, set the GPS (if needed) and off to the call we go.  We have never met a client that wasn’t happy to see us and all are thankful for the help.  All clients are given a comfort quilt (hand made and donated to us), comfort kits (which include:shampoo, conditioner, comb, toothbrush, toothpaste, razor and shaving cream), monetary assistance to purchase clothing, food and storage bins, and if needed we can put them in a hotel for up to 3 days.  

Our main goal is to comfort the family and help them in their immediate time of need, get them through the first couple of days, until they can get a handle on what to do and where to go to next.

Personally, it has been very rewarding each and everytime I have been able to help a family.  I tell anyone who will listen what we do and I am not too proud to ask for their donations by sewing quilts, saving shampoos and soaps from hotel stays, or giving monetary donations.  I am proud to say that I am a volunteer on the Lakeland Chaper American Red Cross Disaster Action Team.