“The Volunteer You Would Need” Red Cross Volunteers are There When Disaster Strikes.

Written By: Dawn Miller, American Red Cross – Wisconsin Region

Photos provided by: Megann Hooyman

When the volunteer from the American Red Cross arrived it was like seeing an old friend and that was just what Megann Hooyman and her family of Appleton needed. The moments leading up to it were a blur of smoke and sirens.

Megann’s family, including her husband, Andy, 4-year old daughter, Zoey and the two-year old twins, Rylee and Callie, had arrived home from a holiday event with Santa. It was a festive Saturday morning so it took Megann a few moments to realize something was wrong.

When she opened her door all she saw was black and smoke. The glass from the oven was shattered on the floor and smoke was everywhere. She bent down to Charlie, their basset hound, but he was already gone. In the living room the smoke was so thick she could not see her hand in front of her.

She ran out the front door and yelled for someone to call 9-1-1. Smoke billowed out behind her. When she opened the door it allowed oxygen in to ignite the flames again.

Andy grabbed the fire extinguisher nearby and used it to keep flames down until firefighters arrived. “It was lucky that we had the fire extinguisher and that Andy knew how to use it,” says Megann.

Within moments Megann heard the sirens and the fire department was there. The fire fighters not only got the fire under control but assisted the family’s other dog, Zebby, who suffered bad burns and smoke inhalation. The ambulance assisted Andy who also was treated for smoke inhalation.

The fire damage was extensive and their possessions were destroyed.

Megann says the American Red Cross volunteer appeared out of nowhere. It’s like seeing a familiar face when you see the American Red Cross logo and that red vest. “It was nice to have that one reliable thing you know you can count on for information and support.”

Megann says the volunteer being there made her feel less alone. “I would have felt lost because I wouldn’t have known what to expect.”

He offered honest advice, time to process next steps and he made sure they were ok. He made sure they had housing and asked if they needed community resources like the food or clothing pantry. He gave them a $625 debit card for necessities like shampoo, conditioner and diapers. “It goes pretty fast when you have little ones,” says Megann.

Megann says she is thankful for such a supportive community. In the weeks following the fire, they stayed with family and were offered much support from friends and community who rallied to help keep the holiday season merry.

“You donate, you give back but you never think you are going to be on the receiving end,” says Megann. “But you need these services.”

Megann recently became the newest member of the American Red Cross Disaster Action Team.

“I hope I volunteer but I hope I don’t because it’s not a good situation,” says Megann. That’s why she’s not only being trained in disaster response but also wants to assist in fire safety and prevention education.

Megann is joining the team of compassionate and caring volunteers in red vests so she can be a friend when someone needs it the most. “You see it in school and on t.v. but you never think it will happen to you,” says Megann. “I don’t know any way to thank those who helped us except to give back and volunteer.”

If you want to be like Megann, please check out the volunteer opportunities at redcross.org/WI/volunteer.  Join us as we #Help1Family!

American Red Cross Issues New Pet First Aid App

Pets are an important part of many families, and a new Red Cross Pet First Aid App puts lifesaving information right in the hands of dog and cat owners so they can provide emergency care until veterinary assistance is available.

The 99 cent Pet First Aid app gives iPhone and Android smart phone users instant access to expert information so they learn how to maintain their pet’s health and what to do during emergencies. Pet owners learn how to recognize health problems and when to contact their veterinarian. The Pet First Aid App provides step-by-step instructions, videos and images for more than 25 common first aid and emergency situations including how to treat wounds, control bleeding, and care for breathing and cardiac emergencies. Additional topics include burns, car accidents, falls and what to do for cold- and heat-related emergencies.

Other features in the app allow pet owners to:

•Create a pet profile including tag identification number, photos, list of medications and instructions.

•Use the list of early warning signs to learn when to call their veterinarian.

•Use “click-to-call” to contact their veterinarian.

•Find emergency pet care facilities or alternate veterinarians with the “animal hospital locator.”

•Locate pet-friendly hotels.

•Test their knowledge with interactive quizzes and earn badges that they can share on their social networks along with their favorite picture of their pet.

History shows that people have not evacuated during disasters because they did not want to leave their pets behind. The Red Cross app contains resources to help owners include pets in their emergency action plans. Pet owners may also take a Red Cross Pet First Aid course so they can practice the skills and receive feedback. People can go to redcross.org/takeaclass for information and to register. The Red Cross has made great strides in making emergency information available whenever and wherever people need it. The Pet First Aid App and other Red Cross apps can be found in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross or by going to redcross.org/mobileapp.

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Pets and Disaster

Thank you to all the staff at Countrycare Animal Complex for our support. and delivery of these much needed kits.

Thank you to all the staff at Countrycare Animal Complex for our support. and delivery of these much needed kits.

Pets enrich our lives in more ways than we can count. They are members of the family. In turn, they depend on us for their safety and well-being.

When Red Cross responders are at residential fires or other disaster our priority is to take care of people. When you have an emergency plan for your pets, (link to arc info) we are truly ensuring their well-being, security and safety too. Having identified the resources and having adequate equipment will help your family care for pets and provide peace of mind during a very stressful situation. Just think of the comfort and compassion your pet will feel when you are prepared!

It’s also through partnerships like ours with the Countrycare Animal Complex, in Green Bay, who has provided emergency pet support. They learned how our responders work with clients and often times they do not have a plan for their pets. Therefore, they supplied us with 100 dog and cat kits to be used in disaster situations. We were surprised when they were all distributed so quickly that they provided another 100 kits. The box kits carry supplies and it can also be used as a carrier for small animals.

  • The dog kit contains: food, bowl, toy, blanket and a leash.
  • The cat kit contains: food, bowl, toy, blanket, litter and  litter box.

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Nancy Mirhashemi, a Red Cross responder, has presented these kits to disaster clients. “They families are always so appreciative. We’re very fortunate to have the Countrycare Animal Complex as our partner so together we can provide comfort and support to the pets and people impacted by a disaster.”

Countrycare is raising funds for the next 100 emergency kits. Please contact them for details on how you can help at (920) 863-3220 and www.countrycareac.com

Red Cross – Preparedness Month – Pet Safety

by guest blogger:  Bandit the Prepared Pug

Bandit the Prepared Pug – Knows a Safe Place to Take Pets

IMAG0255-1-1Did you know if there was a disaster, I would not be allowed in a disaster shelter, even with this cute mug? If my mom and dad needed to find a place for us to stay in case of a disaster, they might not be able to find a hotel or motel that allows me. Luckily, my mom did her homework and found a listing of “pet friendly” hotels and motels after confirming if they had any restrictions on the number of “petite” pugs.

My mom also made a list of people that could take me in case something happens in Green Bay and the surrounding area. It includes friends, family and boarding facilities that can shelter me if an emergency happens.

She loves me so much, she laminated it.

FYI: Service animals are allowed in Red Cross shelters and in hotels and motels.

Bandit the Prepared Pug – Assembles a Pet Emergency Preparedness Kit

  • I am ready for any emergency!
  • I have my own bag with my name on it that has everything in my very own preparedness kit:
  • A copy of my veterinarian and HomeAgain (microchip) information
  • An extra leash and color
  • A small supply of food and treats
  • A current photo of me in case she has to ask if anyone has seen a super cute pug
  • My favorite treats and “Come here” saying, in case I decide to run on someone (FYI, I love to brush my teeth)

The one thing she needs to add is a first aid kit for me in case I would get injured, but she should probably take First Aid for Pets course offered through the Red Cross first.

IMG_20130911_175838Bandit the Prepared Pug – Helps Emergency Workers Help Pets

Sometimes I sleep in my kennel in the laundry away from my mom and dad. If a disaster would happen and my mom wasn’t able to get to me, people need to know where I am!

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (commonly known as the ASPCA) offers my mom and all other pet owners a free window decal alerting rescue personnel where a pet might be in a house. She visited https://www.aspca.org/form/free-pet-safety-pack to sign up for her free decal.

She’s always looking out for me. Best mom ever.

What is Your Disaster Plan for Your Pets?

By: PaKou Lee, Red Cross PR/Social Media Volunteer

I live with two very sassy, but loving Chihuahuas, Junie and Julie, both belonging to my niece, Nevaeh. I always thought that when a disaster strikes whether it is a tornado or a fire, everyone would gather, grab the dogs and find a safe place to be. As I researched for Preparedness Month, I realized there is much more to planning a pet disaster safety than just grabbing and keeping them safe.

It is not that I think Junie and Julie are less important; they are part of the family too. Many people including myself are just not sure where to start for pet emergencies. I have gathered some important safety tips so we can all be prepared- learn how to prepare for a pet emergency, know what should be included in the portable kit, and how to help your pets recover after a traumatic event.

Prepare:

  • Know which hotels and motels along your evacuation route will accept you and your pets in an emergency. Ask if no pet policies could be waived in an emergency.
  • Most American Red Cross shelters cannot accept pets because of health and safety concerns and other considerations. Service animals that assist people with disabilities are allowed in Red Cross shelters.
  • Include your pets in evacuation drills so that they become used to entering and traveling in their carriers calmly.
  • Make sure that your pet’s vaccinations are current and that all dogs and cats are wearing collars with securely fastened, up-to-date identification. Many pet shelters require proof of current vaccinations to reduce the spread of disease.

Your Kit Should Include:

  • Sturdy leashes, harnesses and/or carriers to transport pets safely and ensure that they can’t escape.
  • Food, drinking water, bowls, litter pans, pet beds and toys.
  • Medications, copies of medical records, your veterinarian’s name and number stored in a waterproof container.
  • A first aid kit.
  • Information on feeding schedules, medical conditions, and behavior problems.

Pet Recovery:

  • Watch your animals closely and keep them under your direct control as fences and gates may have been damaged.
  • Pets may become disoriented, particularly if the disaster has affected scent markers that normally allow them to find their home.
  • Be aware of hazards at nose and paw or hoof level, particularly debris, spilled chemicals, fertilizers and other substances that might not seem to be dangerous to humans.
  • Consult your veterinarian if any behavior problems persist.

    Our Chihuahuas, Julie (top) and Junie (bottom). Aren't they cute?

    Our Chihuahuas, Julie (top) and Junie (bottom).
    Aren’t they cute?

Red Cross also offers Pet First Aid class. You will learn how to administer medication to managing cardiac emergencies and more! If you have animals such as livestock, reptiles, birds, and other small animals, visit Humane Society of the United States or Ready.gov for more information on how to keep your animals safe.