Drum roll, please… welcome Alexandra Heyn – Southeast Wisconsin’s new Disaster Program Manager!

Alex Heyn HeadshotAlthough we’ve dubbed her “the newbie”, she’s really no stranger to the Red Cross… Alexandra (Alex) has supported the Red Cross as a Lifeguard and First-Aid/CPR/AED Instructor, Disaster Preparedness and Response volunteer, and most recently as a Volunteer Scheduler for blood services here in Milwaukee. In her new role of Disaster Program Manager, she will be overseeing disaster services in Milwaukee and Waukesha counties.

Alex earned her B.A. of Communications with an emphasis in Community Education and Mediation from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. She is an AmeriCorps alumni, Lion’s Club Member, has extensive experience designing special events, fundraising, leading volunteer engagement, and enjoys problem solving and connecting community members to meaningful service.  In her free time she can be found in our local waterways and nature trails kayaking, birdwatching, and biking.

Home Fires Remain #1 Disaster in WI

It’s been a busy few days and weeks for the American Red Cross, both here in Wisconsin and across the country.  There have been a number of ongoing response and recovery efforts. Your partnership and support makes it possible for us to help the families and individual affected by each of these events.

The Red Cross continues to provide disaster relief to people across the country in California, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida.  Flooding, tornadoes and strong storms tore have kept Red Cross workers and volunteers busy.  Three Wisconsin disaster workers deployed to Butte, Yuba and Sutter counties in California working with state and volunteer partners to provide comfort and care to shelter over 2,200 residents.  Another 4 disaster workers from Wisconsin were deployed to the tornado-ravaged areas of Mississippi in response to the string of severe storms that ripped through the South on January 21-22.

Home fires, however, remain the single most prevalent and most destructive disaster the Red Cross responds to. This year has gotten off to a very busy start for Wisconsin disaster teams.  Since January 1, the Red Cross has responded to 131 fires across the state.  wisconsin-home-firesAs you can see on the map shown, these fires have happened in communities big and small – with responses in 43 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties.  Comparing against the same period last year, 20% more families have needed our help in 2017 as the Red Cross has provided comfort and assistance to 699 people, 213 of them children.

In each of these incidents, trained Red Cross Disaster Responders were on the scene, providing immediate support for affected families and individuals – such as food and clothing – while ensuring that they have the resources they need to get back on their feet. Generous support from those in the community allow the Red Cross to be there providing hope and comfort during these challenging times for all those affected.

Continuous support also ensures that communities are stronger and more resilient to home fires. To help prevent injuries and loss of life from home fires, the Red Cross launched a nationwide Home Fire Campaign in 2014. Together with local fire departments and community groups, they visit neighborhoods at high risk for home fires, educating people about fire safety through door-to-door visits and installing smoke alarms. There is still much work to do, but since the campaign began, 159 lives have been saved nationwide through these efforts.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Home Fire Campaign, protecting your loved ones and home from a fire, or how the Red Cross is making a difference in your community, visit www.redcross.com. Or if you would like to help people affected by disasters by making a donation to Red Cross Disaster Relief please donate here. two-rivers-house-fire-2-11-14

Platelet Donations Needed

Platelets are tiny cells in your blood that form clots and stop bleeding. For millions of Americans, they are essential to surviving and fighting cancer, chronic diseases, and traumatic injuries. Every 30 seconds someone in the U.S. needs platelets. And because platelets must be used within five days, new donors are needed every day. That’s why we need you.  That’s why 4-year-old Graden Hansen from Bloomer, WI needs you.
bloodblog1In September, 2016, Graden was diagnosed with acute lymphblastic leukemia, a type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow and has had to depend on blood and platelet transfusions to help him fight the disease.

The American Red Cross recently issued an emergency alert for platelet and blood donors.

“Right now we are at an emergency alert level,” explained Communications Manager for the American Red Cross Sue Thesenga. “During November and December, the Red Cross collected 37,000 units less than we expected, so we’re trying to make up that shortfall.”

Every 30 seconds someone in the United States needs platelets, and because platelets must be used within five days, new donors are needed every day. That is why the American Red Cross began collecting platelets on Jan. 7 at the Chippewa Valley Blood Donation Center, 3485 E. Hamilton Ave.bloodblog

“Most people don’t realize, but cancer patients or people with life threatening illnesses that have bleeding involved, really need platelets,” Thesenga said. “It’s really important to have a staple supply of platelets available at hospitals because they only have a shelf life of 5 days, so we it’s really important to have so we can meet patient demand.”

During a platelet donation, blood is collected by a device that separates platelets, along with some plasma, from whole blood and returns the remaining blood components back to the donor. The entire process takes about two to three hours to ensure a full donation. Donors are encouraged to relax during the donation, and the Red Cross center has videos, television and wireless internet available.

Donors are able to donate platelets every seven days, up to 24 times a year. In comparison, people donating whole blood are eligible to donate every 56 days, up to six times a year.

To donate or to find out more information about donating platelets in Eau Claire, download the new American Red Cross donor app, call 1-800-RED-CROSS or visit http://www.redcrossblood.org.

Red Cross Blood Drive Held in Honor of Abby Droessler

Hayward community encouraged to pay it forward in honor of local teen seriously injured in watercraft accident

HAYWARD, Wis. — Last July, the unimaginable happened when 15-year-old Abby Droessler was involved in a jet ski accident resulting in a two-inch laceration to her upper thigh. Family members were able to get Abby to shore where she received emergency medical treatment before being taken by ambulance to the local hospital. Severe weather prevented air ambulance transport, so Abby was rushed to Duluth, Minnesota, by ground ambulance. Losing blood rapidly, Abby owes her life to the fact that there was access to enough blood during the 90-minute ambulance trip in the storm.

Upon arrival in Duluth, Abby underwent her first surgery. Surgeons repaired two severed veins and discovered that she also damaged her femoral artery. Abby received 13 units of blood and plasma the first night and additional blood transfusions during the seven days she spend in the intensive care unit.

Eight surgeries were needed to repair the trauma on Abby’s leg and she has received blood and plasma throughout her treatments.

Abby is an extremely ambitious young lady. She is a strong, healthy athlete who enjoys riding and showing her horses, track, volleyball and hunting. She is involved in 4H horse projects and volunteers for church and community events. Today, she is getting back to some of the activities she loves. It will be a long recovery for Abby, but she is grateful to be progressing and healing every day.

To help pay it forward, Abby’s family is hosting a blood drive in her honor to help others that need lifesaving blood.

Donate Blood in Honor of Abby Droessler
Thursday, Dec. 8, from 1-7 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 9, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
St. Joseph’s Catholic Church
10586 N. Dakota Ave. Hayward, WI

To make an appointment to donate, download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

“People believe that something like this could never happen to them, said Abby’s parents, Meghan and Ben Droessler. “We certainly never thought that Abby, a healthy, active teenager, would ever be the one in need of blood. We think it’s important for people that are healthy to take the initiative to share that gift of good health by giving back to those that need it. Someday you just might find yourself in the position to need blood,” they added.

It’s the blood products on the shelves that helps save lives in an emergency. When seconds matter, having a readily available blood supply is critical to trauma patient care. When there is not time to determine a patient’s blood type, such as in trauma situations, type O negative blood and type AB plasma are what emergency personnel reach for because they can be given to patients with any blood type.

“We would like to stress how thankful we are that our small community hospital had blood here for Abby to receive,” said her mother. “We will be the first to say that we take that for granted.”

The Hayward community is encouraged to make an appointment for the Dec. 8-9 blood drive to help ensure a sufficient blood supply. A seasonal decline in donations often occurs from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day when donors get busy with family gatherings and travel. However, patients don’t get a holiday vacation from needing lifesaving transfusions. In fact, every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood.

How to donate blood
Simply download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

Blood donors can now save time at their next donation by using RapidPass to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, prior to arriving at the blood drive. To get started and learn more, visit redcrossblood.org/RapidPass and follow the instructions on the site.

Holiday for Heroes

The Red Cross Holidays for Heroes program enables Americans to “Give Something That Means Something” this holiday season and beyond! New this year, you are invited to share holiday-mailappreciation to active military, reservists, Veterans and their families throughout the year. The Red Cross collects holiday cards, and new this year overall “thank you” cards with a goal is to present to local service members and Veterans multiple times a year.  You can join in the fun with your club, civic organization, business and family by making the cards and we will deliver them for you.

 When preparing cards:

Do…

▪ Choose or create cards for a wide audience such as Happy Holiday or Seasons Greetings or Thank You!

▪ When using store bought cards try choosing a variety of designs to make the gift all the more special.

▪ Include your heartfelt sentiments and sign all cards.holiday-mail2

▪ Entitle cards with generic terms such as “Dear Service Member or Veteran”

▪ Bundle groups of cards in single, large envelopes (you do not need to include the individual envelopes for cards when mailing in multiple cards)

Don’t…

▪ Send inserts of any kind, letters, care packages, money or gift cards

▪ Include personal information such as home or email addresses

▪ Use glitter – excessive amounts can aggravate health issues of wounded recipients

▪ Send personal photos

You can also personally deliver them to the Black River Falls, Wausau, Oshkosh, Green Bay, Madison or Milwaukee offices by December 16th.  Cards delivered to the Altoona office should arrive no later than December 9th as they have a sorting event on December 13th which allows enough time Veterans Home in Chippewa Falls Holiday gathering on December 20th.

Cards can be mailed to: American Red Cross, 4860 Sheboygan Avenue, Madison, WI 53705.  Attn: SAF – Holiday For Heroes

In addition, we will also collect messages on jumbo holiday cards  and will then distribute them to military installations, VA Hospitals, State Veteran Homes and more to say thank you.

holiday-mail3

Volunteers at Lambeau Field on Nov. 6th have fans sign Holiday cards.

 

For more information, please contact John.Kost@redcross.org if you have questions about cards or want to participate in card sorting and delivery!

4th Annual Disaster Training Conference

Last week, the Wisconsin Region conducted our 4th  annual Disaster Training Conference. Though the conference was held on the shores of Green Lake, attendees paid little attention to beautiful autumn scenery outside. The 183  attendees, Red Cross volunteers and staff from Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois, enjoyed four days of learning, sharing and networking.

The broad range of classes provided opportunities for brand new volunteers and seasoned veterans. The newest volunteer had been with the Red Cross for only two days and several in attendance had more than 20-years of service. Classes were offered to provide instruction on delivering the Red Cross mission, supervision & leadership along with diversity & inclusion. Workshops built upon classroom instruction and provided hands-on opportunities to set-up a shelter, conduct damage assessment and manage a disaster relief operation.

On Wednesday night, Red Cross volunteers partnered with the Berlin Fire Department to make homes in Berlin safer. They visited homes and provided smoke alarms testing, free smoke alarm installation, home evacuation planning and fire safety tips. 25 homes were visited and 69 smoke alarms were installed.  Community outreach like this is happening around the state and more than 10,000 smoke alarms will installed this year alone!

By all reports, the Disaster Training Conference was a wonderful success! It was wonderful to see so many Red Crossers come together to learn and celebrate together. Plans for next year’s conference are already underway. We hope to see you there!

 

Hurricane Matthew – WI Responds

Hurricane Matthew. Thousands of people in shelters. Thousands of relief workers responding. Too many lives lost. This disaster is a big one, for all of us, requiring many hands, heads, and hearts pulling together to help others in dire need. Shelter, food, and relief supplies are American Red Cross priorities.

Blood and platelet donations are needed from people in unaffected areas to make up for canceled drives. Check out the stories below. They’ll show you how the Red Cross is helping.

You Just Gotta Be Strong: a video from the American Red Cross features Terry, a shelter resident who was forced to evacuate his home in Tarboro, North Carolina, because of Hurricane Matthew

Haiti Needs Help from All of Usan opinion piece from American Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern published in Huffington Post addresses rumors, issues, and concerns about disaster relief responses in Haiti. False information shared on the internet hurts people who need our help the most

Suffering Continues After Hurricane Matthew: a news release from the American Red Cross with details about how the Red Cross is responding to the disaster in the U.S. and in Haiti

From Wisconsin, there are more than 80 Red Cross relief workers deployed to help in the affected areas. More will likely be on their way in the days to come.

jim-gerry-gilmore-kevin-lori-peterson

Lori and Kevin Peterson and Gerry and Jim Gilmore drove their Emergency Response Vehicles from Wisconsin and are serving thousands of meals, water and distributing cleaning supplies to residents in the hardest hit areas.  

Please support this relief effort. Click here to donate money to Red Cross disaster relief. Click here to make a blood or platelet donation appointment.

Thank you!