‘Grateful’ installers, recipients of free smoke alarms and fire escape plans

By Wendy Rociles, American Red Cross

Dora Hogan was singing a grateful tune after a friend in her choir said she could get free smoke alarms installed in her Milwaukee home. American Red Cross volunteers who made the installations were grateful, too.

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American Red Cross volunteer Jordan Davis, right, talks over a home fire escape plan with Dora Hogan, left, & Alisa Jones. 

Hogan, a grandmother living on the west side of the city, said a smoke alarm in her living room had fallen from her ceiling, which made it difficult for her to replace. With family – including her beloved grandchildren – visiting often, Hogan found it essential to reach out to the Red Cross on their standing offer to provide free smoke alarms to those who need them.

Hogan made an appointment for the alarms (click here to find out how) and two Red Cross volunteers came to check out her home fire safety needs. Along with the living room replacement alarm, Red Cross volunteer Jordan Davis found another alarm in one of the bedrooms with a 1997 expiration date. A few additional alarms were in order, too, posted in important spots in the home to give Hogan peace of mind. Davis tested the alarms and, with a beep, everyone knew that the home was a safer place.

“The smoke alarms could save a life, especially with a lot of grandkids here all the time,” said Alisa Jones, Hogan’s daughter, who was present during the installations. “They could be doing anything: cooking, curling irons left on … I’m very grateful that we have the smoke alarms.”

Along with the alarms, Davis sat with Hogan and Jones to review fire safety tips and a fire escape plan. With these plans, in case of a fire, Hogan’s family will know exactly what to do and how to stay safe outside the home.

Sound the Alarm logoIn addition to installing smoke alarms, Davis volunteers on the Milwaukee area Disaster Action Team (DAT), a role that puts him in a place to comfort and help families involved in many local home fires. Davis said smoke alarm and home fire escape plan events like one coming up April 27 in Milwaukee are “crucial” when it comes to family preparedness.

“Responding with DAT in the aftermath of a home fire to provide comfort and resources to community members can be extremely challenging – and especially when one learns just how many residences in Milwaukee do not have working smoke alarms. Installing smoke alarms before a fire occurs, however, truly brings my service experience with the American Red Cross full circle,” Davis said.

If you don’t know if your smoke alarms are working or think you need new ones, please reach out. Red Cross volunteers are always here to help, such as numerous, day-long smoke alarm installation events coming up:

  • April 13 – Chippewa Valley
  • April 27 – Milwaukee
  • April 27 – La Crosse
  • May 4 – Fox Cities
  • May 4 – Janesville

Sign up for your free smoke alarm and home fire escape plan by entering your information at GetASmokeAlarm.org or by texting the word “Alarm” to 844-811-0100.

‘This is happening, this is now’: Wisconsin man credits repeated CPR training with life-saving act

By Zahra Said, American Red Cross

On October 6, 2017, Mark Brudos was having dinner with his family at a Beloit steakhouse to celebrate his brother’s birthday. While enjoying their meal and chatting, Brudos noticed the gentlemen’s wife stand up. She made direct contact with Brudos, asking for someone to help her because her husband is choking and not responding.

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Mark Brudos shares his CPR save story during a recent work event in Milton honoring his act.

Brudos immediately dove into his training from American Red Cross.

First, he cleared the scene, as people panicked around the choking man.

“I said everyone calm down we need space.”

Next, he found people to help, including dialing 9-1-1. Then, Brudos engaged the choking man, whom he realized was not breathing. Brudos started CPR, something he had repeated training on through the Red Cross at this workplace.

“I thought, ‘This is happening, this is now.’ I was just focused.”

Not long after, Brudos was able to get the choking man upright and breathing again. By this time, police and paramedics came to the man’s attention and Brudos let them take over.

Brudos leaned on his training and a bit of adrenaline. But after the professionals tended to the man, now safe and no longer choking, Brudos had time to reflect with his family on the “surreal” experience. Even with all the trainings, it was hard to believe this had happened.

Brudos believed it was his duty to help in this situation.

“On our way out the door, the [choking man’s] wife said thank you. I said, ‘No, that was my job and it was my responsibility to act.’”

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The National Certificate of Merit outlining Brudos’s actions and including a medal.

For his actions, Brudos received the American Red Cross Certificate of Merit, for “selfless and humane action in saving a life.” Brudos was one of a trio of recent Wisconsin recipients of the life-saving honor, the highest a citizen can receive from the Red Cross.

Part of that sense of duty came from an incident about 15 years prior where a stranger saved his father’s life during a sudden health crisis. “Even prior to that I wanted to give back to society for giving me my father. [CPR training] was my way of giving back.”

He wants people to know that as a human being and as a citizen that if he can help, others should get trained to help as well. To that end, Brudos had already scheduled another training for 31 employees after his life-saving event at that Beloit steakhouse.

Brudos credits his company for giving him the opportunity to get educated and prepare him for the incident that he did not know he was ready for. The incident also proved how prepared he was and how great American Red Cross’s training is.

“To validate that I was prepared it is a testament of how good of a training the American Red Cross has.”

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Brudos, center with medal, shares his Red Cross award with co-workers. He credits repeated CPR trainings at his workplace, Charter Nex Films, with his ability to have helped save a life.

Because of his training with American red cross and the experience that he has had with this incident, Brudos believes everyone should get certified.

“It is important to take the certified class and everyone should be trained on this”, said Brudos.

He believes starting early is important and schools should offer the training as well.

“It should be a requirement. It should be a requirement in high school before you get the diploma.”

To sign up for a CPR or other life-saving class near you, click here.

CARE for Paws Initiative: Helping pet owners in times of disaster

Story by Red Cross volunteer Ann Voigt

Tucked just outside of Green Bay, WI, in the quiet countryside, sits Country Care Animal Complex. Inside the walls of the complex, in addition to their everyday animal care, the staff serves another important purpose.  The CARE for Paws (Countrycare Animal Rescue Efforts) initiative is part of the Countrycare Animal Complex and partners with the Northeast Wisconsin Chapter of The American Red Cross, using their resources to help animals in need during disastrous times.

PAWS Kit Photo 1

When I spoke with Joanne Clark, Marketing & Communications Coordinator for Countrycare, to learn more about the CARE for Paws and the kits they make for animals in need, I could tell from just the phone conversation that this was an initiative which was very close to their organization’s heart. The kits are serve a dual purpose – to help victims who are pet owners with initial needs [for their pet(s)] after a disaster strikes and they then serve as carriers for the pets.  Included in the kits are collars, leashes, food, blankets, bowls, kitty litter, toys, and care information.

PAWS Kit Photo 2

The most important part of the kits, however, is the love that each volunteer puts into them. The organization holds bi-yearly gatherings to fill the hundreds of kits and has been doing so for about five years.  It is an effort put forth simply for the love of the animals and the need to ensure the safety and well-being of pets whose owners have fallen on hard times due to tragedy.

 

PAWS Kit Photo 3

The organization’s quest to help pets doesn’t stop with the aftermath of an event – they also provide needs in anticipation of unforeseen events. With a requested donation of $15.00, their Emergency Evacuation Bags include a pet blanket, collapsible food/water bowl, slip leash, waterproof envelope for medical records, booklet of preparedness tips, window sticker to alert first responders that pets are in the home as well as a pet first aid bag with instructional card. These items are all contained in a drawstring bag for easy access.

For more information on this heroic animal organization, please visit their website or Facebook page.

http://countrycareac.com/

https://www.facebook.com/careforpawscac/

https://www.facebook.com/CountrycareAnimalComplex/

Story by Red Cross volunteer Ann Voigt

Greenfield’s Life-Saver Receives National Award

At only 11 years-old, Abram Suminski of Greenfield, Wisconsin, is a official recipient of the American Red Cross Certificate of Merit for selfless and humane action in saving a life. This is the highest award given by the Red Cross to an individual or team of individuals who saves or sustains life by using skills and knowledge learned in the American Red Cross Preparedness, Health and Safety Services courses.

When Abram Suminski was learning first aid basics in an American Red Cross Babysitter’s training course, I doubt he knew how quickly he’d be putting them to use in a real-life situation. Good thing he was prepared though when his younger brother, Logan, was in need. Shortly after, the brothers were playing in their grandmother’s basement when Logan started to choke on a piece a candy. Abram saw his brother turning purple and jumped into action to perform abdominal thrusts. His quick actions dislodged the piece of candy from Logan’s throat, saving his life!

Abram’s instructor from the Babysitter’s training course heard of his life-saving story, and she, along with the Greenfield Rec. Department (where the training took place), nominated Abram for the Red Cross Certificate of Merit, which is signed by the President Barack Obama, who is the Honorary Chairman of the American Red Cross!

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Abram Suminski holding his award with the help of his younger brother, Logan.

On Tuesday night at the Greenfield Common Council Meeting, Abram received the Red Cross Certificate of Merit. The Mayor of Greenfield, Michael J. Neitzke, and local Red Cross CEO, Patty Flowers, had the honor of presenting the award to Abram. In attendance, were some very special guests including Abram’s family, the vice principle of his school, his Red Cross instructor and the Greenfield Fire Department.

If you’re thinking about signing up for a Red Cross training course, don’t hesitate – be prepared! Information about the Red Cross Babysitting course, First Aid, CPR/AED and other training courses are available at redcross.org/takeaclass.

To see live action watch the Fox 6 news clip!

 

Sherri Galle-Teske: My Red Cross Story

By Sherri Galle-Teske, Account Executive for the American Red Cross 

The American Red Cross has touched my life and family in so many ways. My earliest memory of learning about the Red Cross was when I was five years old. My grandmother Agnes Patoka (fondly known as Nana) would put me up on her lap and read children’s books when I would come to her house for visits. My favorite books however-were her old photo albums which included many photos of my father as a child. She would reminisce and explain in detail every photo and always explained the “story” behind it.

On one occasion Nana had a photo album that I had never seen before and it contained special pictures of her prior marriage. One picture in particular was of great interest to me. The picture was taken in 1919 when my grandmother was 18 years old. The photo shows my grandmother sitting with two of her friends on a lawn. All of the girls are wearing long white gowns with a white cloth on their heads. On their foreheads the white cloth sported a red cross. She explained to me that she and her friends volunteered at the American Red Cross in Menasha, WI. There was a terrible war going on in Europe and many soldiers and civilians needed their help. After school she and her friends went to the Red Cross and ripped apart long cotton petty skirts (now known as slips) into long strips. The men at the Red Cross office bundled them together in bales and they were sent to the war front to be used as bandages.

That photo is framed and currently hangs on the wall in my Stevens Point office. Nana’s special picture has been in many of my presentations and displays for the Red Cross. The picture travels with me frequently.

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Prior to my birth, my father was enlisted in the Navy. He knew his Aunt Francis and Uncle Luther were expecting their first child. While on ship he suddenly received bad news – Uncle Luther was killed in a plane accident. He received the message from the Red Cross. Soon after he received another message – my Aunt Francis had delivered a beautiful baby boy. Would he be the godfather? Naturally my father agreed-he recited the religious oath from the ship’s control room over the radio (somewhere close to the Philippine Islands) – all arranged via the Red Cross!

My Aunt Phyllis Petts of Neenah, WI, spent many years as a Red Cross blood volunteer until her death. I received her Red Cross volunteer pin from my cousins after the funeral.

I guess it was destiny for me to work for the American Red Cross. I am excited to be part of a family tradition that has followed this organization for such a long time. When I refer a blood drive, sell an AED, discuss Services to Armed Forces (SAF), or recommend our volunteer program, I know “someone above” is smiling down at me – and feeling proud.


Sherri Galle-Teske supports the Preparedness, Health and Safety Services in both Wisconsin and Michigan. As February is National Heart Month, it is important to know that Sherri’s support of Preparedness, Health and Safety Services includes helping people obtain AEDs for their home, business, school or organization. AEDs, devices that analyze the heart’s rhythm and, if necessary, deliver an electrical shock which helps the heart re-establish an effective rhythm, are an important element in reducing the number of cardiac arrest deaths. In addition, the Red Cross offers AED program management, maintenance and service. To learn more about AEDs or the Red Cross AED Program, contact Sherri via sherrigalle-teske@redcross.org.

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Click here to view full-size flyer.

A Safer Way to Get that Candle Glow

By Jody Weyers, Communications Volunteer

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The weekend after Thanksgiving I was so excited to get out all my holiday decorations and go to town decorating in a new space. I moved into a new duplex seven months ago and this was my first Christmas in my new place. What makes a place feel cozy and warm during the holidays –candles and lots of them.

I have been with the American Red Cross for almost 15 years, so I know candles are dangerous. According to the National Fire Protection Association, one-fifth of home decoration fires occur in December, and over half of these are started by candles.

This year, I transitioned to the battery operated candles. I know you are thinking, it is not the same…. But yes, it really is. Battery operated tea-lights are all over my house and you cannot tell the difference from a real candle. They are available in all sizes, shapes and colors. I went to Michael’s Craft Store and was floored by all the different varieties available. I know they don’t give off any scent, and part of the holidays I love is the smells of cinnamon, pine and vanilla so I also invested in an aromatherapy room mist in all my favorite scents and for when I have guests.

IMG_20151128_172634At first you might think they are expensive, but when you look at the cost of your house burning down or investing in battery operated candles, that price tag soon becomes a non-factor. They also provide peace of mind.  If I go to bed or leave my house with one of these candles still on, I don’t have to worry about it.

This is just one small change I am making this year so my holiday is a little safer. The Red Cross offers these additional tips to keep your home safe during the holiday season.

  • If you do decide to burn candles, make sure to keep them away from children, pets and decorations.
  • Choose decorations and artificial trees that are flame resistant or flame retardant. Place away from heat sources and exits. Water real trees daily.
  • Never leave portable heaters or fireplaces unattended.
  • Install smoke alarms.
  • Keep items that can catch on fire at least three feet away from anything that gets hot, such as sources of heat or stoves.
  • If hanging stockings on a fireplace, do not use the fireplace for fires.

On average, 7 people die and 36 people suffer injuries from home fires every day. Fire experts agree that people may have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home before it is too late. The Red Cross’s Home Fire Campaign works to reduce this number by urging American to follow two simple steps: check existing smoke alarms and practice home fire drills.

People can visit www.redcross.org for more information on how to protect themselves and their loved ones from home fires.

Top Ten Red Cross Cold Weather Safety Tips

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As temperatures drop this winter, the American Red Cross offers ten steps people can take to stay safe during the cold weather.

  1. Layer up! Wear layers of lightweight clothing to stay warm. Gloves and a hat will help prevent losing your body heat.
  2. Don’t forget your furry friends. Bring pets indoors. If they can’t come inside, make sure they have enough shelter to keep them warm and that they can get to unfrozen water.
  3. Remember the three feet rule. If you are using a space heater, place it on a level, hard surface and keep anything flammable at least three feet away – things such as paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs.
  4. Requires supervision – Turn off space heaters and make sure fireplace embers are out before leaving the room or going to bed.
  5. Don’t catch fire! If you are using a fireplace, use a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.
  6. Protect your pipes. Run water, even at a trickle, to help prevent your pipes from freezing. Open the kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals out of the reach of children. Keep the garage doors closed if there are water lines in the garage.
  7. Better safe than sorry. Keep the thermostat at the same temperature day and night. Your heating bill may be a little higher, but you could avoid a more costly repair job if your pipes freeze and burst.
  8. The kitchen is for cooking. Never use a stove or oven to heat your home.
  9. Use generators outside. Never operate a generator inside the home, including in the basement or garage.
  10. Knowledge is power. Don’t hook a generator up to the home’s wiring. The safest thing to do is to connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator.

For more information on how to stay safe during the cold weather, visit winter storm safety.