Thursday, May 25, 2017

Better Together; Partnerships Prepare Communities

The Wind River Indian Reservation has seen disaster numerous times with past flooding, and this year will be no exception. When the Red Cross responds to flooded homes it's not just another house, but community members who have immediate needs.

"It's a great feeling when you can come alongside and offer assistance. It's an even better feeling when we have can join forces with partners to prepare a community in advance; to try and prevent loss of life and property," said Kaleigh Good, Disaster Program Manager for Red Cross of Wyoming.

Red Cross is proud to have been invited by the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribes into a partnership for pre-flood mitigation. The partnership extends well beyond this pre-flood mitigation, as Red Cross frequently collaborates with Northern Arapaho Emergency Manager Harvey Spoonhunter and Eastern Shoshone Emergency Manager Vernon Hill. Together, Red Cross, Team Rubicon Region VIII, and Tribal Emergency Management officials are advocates for emergency preparedness and positioning the community for a stronger, more resilient place to call home.

On day one of the mitigation project, Team Rubicon Region VIII Members gathered around for a morning briefing. "We are here to help protect life and property today; to hopefully keep some families from having to worry about the flooding that may occur," said the Team Leader. Team Rubicon Volunteers were thankful to the Red Cross for providing the support that allowed them to be part of the efforts and will spend the next few days filling sandbags in efforts to prepare the community in advance of the snow melt.

Many members of the community began stacking sandbags several weeks ago as they prepared for severe flooding; the current snow water equivalent is more than 300% the normal range in the Wind River Basin.

"This is my first mitigation. It's hard to come in and see the aftermath so this is nice to be here to hopefully help prevent some of that loss, " said Ashley Crandall, Team Rubicon volunteer who came in from Texas to help support the community. Many of the volunteers from Team Rubicon have traveled a great distance to be here helping this community, whose families see and experience some level of flooding every year. Take, for example,  Crawford, who has lived on the Wind River Reservation his entire life. He and his family, which consists of more than 100 brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, and uncles are all part of this tight knit community on the reservation. "We are a lot more prepared now than we were in 2010," he said as he shared with us his experience of past flooding in the community and what they are doing to prepare for what they know is on the way. "It's great to see all the people who are coming together to help each other and to help their neighbors get ahead of it this year," he said.

"We thought it was done snowing...but then we got more. That means more water in the rivers when it starts to melt and it all flows right down here," Crawford said.

Floods are among the most frequent and costly natural disasters. The Red Cross provides several tools such as a free Emergency App which can be set to alert you to potential threats like flash flooding. You can learn more by clicking HERE, or from your mobile phone, Text GETEMERGENCY to 90999.

Learn more about flood safety and preparedness, as well as what to do before, during, and after a flood event, or how YOU can help those who are affected by flooding this year at

Photos By: Red Cross Volunteer, Nigel F. Holderby

About the American Red Cross: The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission.

Safety Tips for Memorial Day Weekend

By Nigel Holderby

American Red Cross of Colorado and Wyoming: May 25, 2017 — Many folks will spend the upcoming Memorial Day weekend taking a road trip, having their first picnic of the season or enjoying that first dip in the lake or pool. Follow these American Red Cross tips to stay safe and relish all the long holiday weekend has to offer. 

  • Be well rested and alert, use your seat belts, observe speed limits and follow the rules of the road. 
  • If you plan on drinking alcohol, designate a driver who won’t drink. 
  • Give your full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones. 
  • Use caution in work zones. There are lots of construction projects underway on the highways. 
  • Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. 
  • Make frequent stops. 
  • Clean your vehicle’s lights and windows to help you see, especially at night. Turn your headlights on as dusk approaches, or during inclement weather. Don’t overdrive your headlights. 
  • Don’t let your vehicle’s gas tank get too low. If you have car trouble, pull as far as possible off the highway.
  • Carry a Disaster Supplies Kit in your trunk. 
  • Let someone know where you are going, your route and when you expect to get there. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route. 

  • Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use. 
  • Never grill indoors – not in your house, camper, tent, or any enclosed area. 
  • Make sure everyone, including the pets, stays away from the grill.  
  • Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, the deck, tree branches, or anything that could catch fire. 
  • Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill to keep the chef safe. 
  • Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited. 
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using grills. 

The following tips are layers of protection that will help people stay safe in, on and around the water: 

  • Do your part, be water smart! Ensure that everyone in the family learns to swim well. 
  • Adults: actively supervise children; stay within arm’s reach of young children and newer swimmers. And kids: follow the rules. 
  • Don’t fool with a pool: fence it in. Enclose your pool and spa with four-sided, four-foot fencing and use self-closing, self-latching gates. 
  • Don’t just pack it; wear your U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket – always when on a boat and if in a situation beyond your skill level. Inflatable children’s toys and water wings can be fun, but they are no substitute for a life jacket and adult supervision. 
  • Swim as a pair near a lifeguard’s chair - everyone, including experienced swimmers, should swim with a buddy in areas protected by lifeguards. 
  • Reach or throw, don't go! Know what to do to help someone in trouble, without endangering yourself; know how and when to call 9-1-1; and know CPR. DOWNLOAD RED CROSS APPS The Red Cross app “Emergency” can help keep you and your loved ones safe by putting vital information in your hand for more than 35 different severe weather and emergency alerts. The Red Cross Swim App promotes water safety education and helps parents and caregivers of young people learning how to swim. The Red Cross First Aid App puts instant access to information on handling the most common first aid emergencies at your fingertips. Download these apps by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in your app store or at 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

A Letter Home From Vietnam with Help from Red Cross

By Autumn Velez
Photos provided by George Autobee

Imagine being eighteen years old - you have just finished your initial military training in the United States Marine Corps and you are now being shipped off to a foreign country. Upon your arrival you are greeted by two Marines who are just finishing up their tour. These Marines looked as though they have seen things no human should have to see.

For George Autobee, this was his real life.

George Autobee in Vietnam
On June 21, 1968, Autobee, arrived in Da Nang, Vietnam where he was attached to the 2nd platoon, Mike Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division specializing in 60mm mortars and as a Rifleman. Soon after his arrival, Autobee learned Mike Company was also known as Med-Evac (medical evacuation) Mike because of the high causality rate within the company. Autobee soon learned the reality of being part of “Med- Evac Mike Company”.

Two and a half months after his arrival to Vietnam, Autobee was wounded in his arm during an initial engagement on Hill 310 when he was acting as the point man. This left him wounded and without a weapon. As mortar rounds came in, he was forced to leave the area and find the medical evacuation helicopter to Da Nang NSA. Once he arrived to the hospital late that evening, he was taken straight into surgery.

The letter home

While recovering in the hospital, Autobee was approached by an American Red Cross volunteer named Miss Jane Gordon. Miss Gordon offered to help Autobee write a letter home since he was unable to write due to the injury he sustained from being shot.

“In retrospect, I appreciate the help and see that a letter can mean a lot,” Autobee said. “What
surprised me is that Miss Gordon was there in a hostile wartime as a volunteer. She has all of my respect.”

After all of these years, Miss Gordon’s decision to volunteer during wartime has stuck with Autobee.

“I still today appreciate the Red Cross and the help I received in a time of need,” said Autobee. “I am forever grateful to Miss Jane Gordon and the American Red Cross.”

Autobee has attempted to track down Miss Gordon with little success, but “would thank her for her help while I was in need of assistance and that her willingness to serve in a warzone to help, was way above the call of duty.”

Receiving the Purple Heart Medal
Shortly after being treated for his wound, Autobee was awarded the Purple Heart and later a Gold Star. Upon his return to the United States on May 15, 1969, Autobee decided to separate from the Marine Corp and went on to pursue an undergraduate degree at Southern Colorado State College (now Colorado State University- Pueblo) and then a master’s degree from the University of Northern Colorado. In 1980, he returned to the military as part of the United States Army Reserves where he was commissioned and became a medic.

To this day, Autobee continues to give back to the American Red Cross by making donations as his way of thanking the organization that was there in his time of need.

The Service to Armed Forces program of the American Red Cross has a long history of support for our troops. Whether it is in peace time or in war our staff and volunteers are an important part of any military service. You can be part of this effort to support our troops as a volunteer or as a financial donor by going online to  If you would like to learn more about the Red Cross Service to Armed Forces program to see where you might join in, visit

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Sharing Knowledge with Lewis Palmer Elementary School

Story and photos by Bill Fortune/American Red Cross

Lewis Palmer School District hosted The Pillowcase Project with presentations by the American Red Cross of Southeastern Colorado. More than 600 students from the Districts elementary schools participated in the learning opportunity over a two week period. Classes were held at Lewis Palmer elementary, Bear Creek Elementary, Ray E. Kilmer Elementary, Prairie Winds Elementary, and Palmer Lake Elementary.

Red Cross instructor Matt Goldsmith holds door knobs
while students try to "stay low and go" to determine
if fire is on the other side of the door.
Students in the fourth and fifth grade were presented with information about local hazards and how to prepare for them. There was a strong emphasis on home fire safety with instruction about how to
escape from a closed room, how to respond to smoke alarms and how to check if there is fire on the "other side of the door" by touching the door knob with the back of their hand.

The Pillowcase Project was developed in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina when university students were scene evacuating with their possessions held in pillowcases. The concept was then adjusted to help train students in grades 3 through 6 using a "learn, practice, share" methodology.

Students show their pillowcases at the end of The
Pillowcase Project. Photo  by Bill Fortune/American
Red Cross
Each student is given a workbook and a pillowcase to color on with fabric markers. The workbook provides additional information and the pillowcase,  when colored, provides a visual reminder of the safety material and serves as a "go kit" for the child to have at home.

The Pillowcase Project is supported by Disney in partnership with the American Red Cross. If you would like to learn more about The Pillowcase visit . If you would like The Pillowcase Project to come to your school you can request a presentation here.

A students uses the workbook
provided by The Pillowcase Project.
Students color the pillowcases
provided by The Pillowcase Project

To see more photos of the students in Lewis Palmer School District participating in The Pillowcase Project visit our Flickr page.