Installing smoke alarms and peace of mind

by Justin Kern, American Red Cross of Wisconsin

For Renee Hovland and Ms. Bowman, volunteers installed peace of mind along with smoke alarms during recent communitywide events.

The two Wisconsin residents welcomed Red Cross volunteers and partners into their respective homes as part of “Sound the Alarm, Save a Life,” a national campaign to reduce injury and death from home fires.

Madison STASAL volunteers prep

Volunteers receive tools, alarms and instruction in Madison at event host, American Family Insurance HQ.

Hundreds of volunteers teamed up with a goal to install 1,400 smoke alarms during separate, daylong events in Milwaukee and Madison. Other cities and counties have or will hold their own installation roundups. (Click here to sign up for a free smoke alarm installed as part of this ongoing campaign.)

During the recent communitywide events in Milwaukee and Madison, Renee and Ms. Bowman shared the stories behind their installations.

‘It means the world to me’
Renee Hovland and her family know firsthand the impact of a house fire.

On the afternoon of New Year’s Eve, 11 years ago, a candle burned out of control and “took down our whole house,” she said. Seven fire crews came to the site of their house in McFarland, on the outskirts of Madison, even tapping a neighbor’s pool to help contain the blaze.

The Hovlands – Renee, her husband Eric, their two daughters, plus three dogs and two cats – lost that home and all their possessions. But, they were alive and unscathed. They rebuilt on the same property.

Madison Sound the Alarm install family

Charles installs an alarm at the Hovland house with his family team, Crystal (center) and Samantha.

So, when they received a flyer about the fire department and Red Cross teaming up to install smoke alarms on May 5, Renee made an appointment.

“We had hardwired smoke detectors when we rebuilt and some of them are past the date that they’re still working,” Renee said. “It’s been something that’s bothering me, knowing that don’t have current alarm equipment that’s working. To me, this is a huge deal.”

A volunteer team of four family members installed five smoke alarms in the Hovland house and talked through an escape plan with Eric. As Renee brought their dogs outside to prevent a distraction, she reflected on the sense of security she’s gained from the free installations.

“It means the world to me,” she said. “I honestly can’t afford to buy that many [smoke alarms] and putting them up on a ladder, with my health, I can’t do that. It’s huge, a huge help.”

Donta and Shelly Grasso STASAL Milwaukee 2018.jpg

In his Milwaukee kitchen, Donta Geter, right, talks through a fire escape plan with Red Cross volunteer Shelly Grasso.

‘That’s a blessing’
Donta Geter invited a team of Red Cross volunteers from Marquette University into his family’s majestic, three-story red brick home in Milwaukee’s Cold Spring Park neighborhood on April 28. Donta pointed to a few spots in and around the living room that lacked a working smoke alarm. Then, he helped his grandmother – who introduced herself as “Ms. Bowman” – into the kitchen to establish a fire escape plan with volunteer Shelly Grasso.

Shelly drew an escape map onto a dry erase board with input from Donta and Ms. Bowman, as the other volunteers snaked their way up the home’s back stairwell to install alarms on the second story and in the attic.

“Nope, we don’t have a plan,” said Ms. Bowman. “We were always under the assumption that if there’s a front entrance and a back exit, you go out [of one of those]. But … you might have to go out of one of these windows!”

Milwaukee Sound the Alarm pin 2018Ms. Bowman and Donta talked with Shelly about the best ways to get out in the event of a disaster, and then posted that map on their refrigerator. In the meantime the other volunteers had finished installing three new alarms and replacing another.
Ms. Bowman remarked: “Thank you for all of this. That’s a blessing.”

For more information on the home fire safety campaign – including installation signups and volunteering – click here.

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Canada’s Wildfire Relief Efforts Supported by Hometown Gal

The Canadian and the American Red Cross joined forces to support 10,000 Saskatchewan wildfire evacuees, this is Brenda’s story.

By Brenda Haney, American Red Cross Volunteer

On July 7, 2015 the Red Cross asked if I would represent the U.S. on an International Deployment to Canada. I agreed to go although I had only been home for a week from a deployment in Louisiana.

Diana O’Neill and I left Madison and flew to Edmonton, Alberta on July 8th. We made it through Customs and travelled five hours by bus to Cold Lake, Alberta. Once there we assisted with a shelter with approximately 600 people of several different native Canadian Bands.

Due to the large number of evacuations they were loaded on buses with only the clothes on their backs and bused six hours from Saskatchewan to Cold Lake, Alberta.  The City of Cold Lake opened up one of their buildings to accommodate the people coming in. There were many challenges dealing with this many people and the different cultures.

After two days Diana and I were promoted to shelter managers. We worked 12 hour shifts, both day and night. We were warmly welcomed by our counterparts with the Canadian Red Cross. We worked closely with the government officials to ensure a safe shelter operation.

There were several health issues that required the use of hotels and campgrounds as alternate shelters.

On the 11th day of our deployment we were given the “all clear” to start sending people home. In just two days we had everyone accounted for and on their way back home to Saskatchewan.

The tear down began and the massive task of tearing down cots began. We loaded all the cots in semis and hired a cleaning company to clean and sterilize everything.

It is time to take a break as this was my 5th deployment of 2015. Deployment number three was a driving trip to Texas. Diana and I drove over 4,000 miles roundtrip in the Emergency Relief Vehicle going from Madison to San Marcos, TX to assist with flooding.

I am thankful for the wonderful people I have met on these Red Cross deployments. I am happy that I have been able to help people in their time of need.

A collection of our 1st International Deployment memorabilia will be displayed at the Madison Red Cross Office.

To begin your American Red Cross adventure, please visit redcross.org/volunteer

Are You AED Prepared?

DO YOU…

Know what AED stands for?

Know the purpose of having an AED?

AED stands for…

Automated External Defibrillator

It is a medical device that analyzes the heart’s rhythm.

If necessary, it delivers an electrical shock, known as defibrillation, which helps the heart re-establish an effective rhythm.

Timing is Crucial.

8-12 minutes: the average response time for first responders once 911 is called.

1 minute of delayed defibrillation = 10% decrease of survival rate

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3 Easy Steps to Save a Life

  1. Be Red Cross Ready- Get the training you need to use an AED and how to respond in emergency situations. With the proper training and knowledge, potentially 50,000 lives can be saved per year.
  2. Contact Terry Roe if you would like to purchase an AED (email: Terry.Roe@redcross.org or phone# 715-590-4495 ). There are 4 different AED options to choose from.
  3. Be Inspired- Watch this incredible and touching story about how 2 UW Health nurses were able to save a woman’s life by using the AED, brought to you by WKOW 27 in Madison, WI.

WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

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(Click on picture to enlarge)

Training, a Plan and Teamwork Can Save a Life!

The story below emphasizes the fact that you cannot put a price tag on a life that has been saved by using CPR/AED training.  Luckily, this 64-year-old businessman was in good hands the minute he went into cardiac arrest on the jobsite.  The costs of training and creating an emergency plan paid off for the two businesses mentioned.  With the correct and regular training, these workers were able to react quickly, follow procedure and save a precious life.

Want to learn more about our training packages and how you can get an AED and training for your business? Give me a call or e-mail me at: 920-227-4294 or kimberly.apfelbeck@redcross.org

Kimberly Apfelbeck, Sales Representative, American Red Cross Eastern WI Territory

Man Suffers Heart Attack During Business Trip To Madison 

Submitted by Scott Beedy, Channel 3000 Community Editor, March 2, 2012

A life of an Ohio businessman working in Madison this week was saved after he collapsed from a heart attack in a trailer on the construction site of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s new Wisconsin Energy Institute.

The man, who is 64 years old, was visiting a the site when he collapsed in the trailer and project office of Mortenson Construction. Workers from Mortenson and Hallmark Drywall who witnessed the collapse immediately moved to respond, fire officials said. One called the Dane County 911 Communications Center, while another reached for the defibrillator on the wall. Others workers began chest compressions, while yet another group of workers got in place to guide emergency crews to the man.

911 call taker Laurie Frederickson continued with calm instructions until firefighters and medics arrived, officials said. They said the man was treated and taken to the hospital minutes later.

The workers on site told crews credited their actions to the company’s emergency response plan and required safety training, which includes CPR.

Fire officials said at last check the man was in good condition, preparing to be released from the hospital.