Tuesday, April 22, 2014

My Red Cross Story: Think Globally, Act Locally

By Jasmine Liddington

I was in my senior year of college when the Indian Ocean Tsunami claimed the lives of more than 230,000 people. I felt this immediate call to action within my heart; I need to go there, I need to help.  The first organization that came into my mind was the Red Cross. I knew that they were a volunteer organization who always stepped up to the plate in times of disaster.  I got ahold of my local volunteer chapter and I told them I wanted to go.  I told them I was willing to drop everything and I told myself that I’d finish my degree later.

The man on the other side of the phone told me no and explained that Red Cross responses start with the local, trained Red Cross workers in their home country, and that there are hundreds of thousands of Red Cross volunteers all over the world; during an international response, the Red Cross sends its most highly trained specialists from among the thousands of ready and willing volunteers around the world. He explained that sending just anyone would result in chaos that would take time away from the people who needed help and from what needed to be done.

Seven years later I was living in Japan when the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami occurred causing over 16,000 deaths and nuclear contamination that is impossible to estimate. I had friends who scarcely got out alive and others whose lives were changed forever. I was living in a small farming town north of where the destruction occurred but all of Japan experienced a startling rise in radiation levels. The 1000 people in my town came together trying to decide what to do and resolved to plaster every building with heavy duty plastics. Two days later work and school were called off and the entire town went to work on this project. It was an exhilarating feeling seeing how people come together in times of need.

Once again I felt that call to action and watched as the Red Cross entered Japan and did what they do best. I resolved that as soon as I returned to the United States that I would start to volunteer for the Red Cross. I became a volunteer in 2012 and began the training that I had been told about 8 years earlier. Now I understand that it is all the work and training done ahead of time that makes the Red Cross successful when volunteers do need to be mobilized.

What I’ve learned since joining the Red Cross is that Red Cross is hard at work every day, not just during massive natural disasters. They are helping people in need right in your back yard to make it to doctor’s appointments, to inspire young people to get involved, to be prepared for house fires and many other things all of which are done by volunteers. If you are the type of person who feels that call to help when you see people in need start volunteering for the Red Cross now. They will help get you the training you need so that when disaster strikes you are ready to be a part of this wonderful thing called volunteerism.

This is me in Japan hiking Mt. Fuji

Monday, April 21, 2014

Caring for your whole family: Pet First Aid Awareness Month

April is Pet First Aid Awareness month—time to brush up on how to keep your pet safe and healthy and learn what to do when things aren't so.

Matt Reeves has been teaching Cat and Dog First Aid classes for ten years. With the student materials coming before the classes themselves, the creation of these special courses happened in reverse-order, with courses typically manifesting before the student materials.

“It’s different than our other courses in how consumer-driven it is,” says Reeves. He remembers the Red Cross receiving a noticeable number of questions on the topic of pet first aid before the courses were created.

“It’s a special class,” says Reeves, “People don’t need the course for work or to be a volunteer—they take it because they genuinely want to learn pet first aid.” Reeves says he likes that people come with a clean slate because the courses are not taught anywhere else. “It’s fun,” he says, “the questions are more immersive than I've experienced with other classes.”

With 8-10 classes each year, the Mile High Chapter of the American Red Cross will host its next Cat and Dog First Aid classes on April 17th and again on June 19th. The classes teach pet owners how to administer CPR, how to help a choking pet, how to check vital signs, and how to recognize what is normal pet behavior and what is not; how to transport an injured pet and poison control are also on the agenda.

Want to take action? Learn more about Pet First Aid Awareness, download our Pet First Aid app, and use this checklist to prepare, respond, and recover from a disaster to ensure the safety of your pets. There is also a handy e-flyer with more info on Pet preparedness here.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Red Cross To Honor Community Heroes at “Celebrating a Century of Community Heroes” Event on April 23

The American Red Cross in Northern Colorado has selected award recipients for the 2014 Celebrating a Century of Community Heroes event. The recipients, one individual and four organizations, will be honored at 2nd Annual Celebrating Community Heroes event held at the Hilton Fort Collins from 5:30-8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 23, 2014. This year has special significance as we celebrate a century of exceptional volunteerism with your American Red Cross in Colorado & Wyoming.

You can join in the festivities as we honor Community Heroes and celebrate a century of Red Cross service. More information and tickets can be found at:  
Here are the American Red Cross 2014 Community Heroes:

Larimer County Sherriff
Justin Smith
Professional Lifesaver – Larimer County Sheriff’s Office
Thousands of Coloradans were stranded in the foothills of the Front Range in the hours and days after the Colorado Flood 2013. The quick, decisive, compassionate and coordinated efforts to safely evacuate citizens helped to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of an epic disaster. For their exceptional leadership through the evacuations, Justin Smith and the extraordinary staff of the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office are honored as the American Red Cross Professional Lifesavers.

Military Lifesaver – Colorado National Guard
Colorado National Guard
help with evacuations

With thousands of Coloradans stranded and Emergency Management systems getting overwhelmed up and down the Front Range the Colorado National Guard was called in to help. For the largest airlift evacuation operation in Colorado history and the largest animal airlift operation in our nation’s history in lockstep coordination with local authorities the Colorado National Guard is honored as the American Red Cross Military Lifesavers.

Kevin Unger, UC Health
Commitment to Community – University of Colorado Health
In the wake of the flood, our communities were overwhelmed with needs for resources, trained volunteers and care. UCHealth helped to meet the community needs with a Special Operation Response Teams, significant financial support and by loaning one of their staff members, trained as a Red Cross specialist, to the Disaster Relief Operation for weeks. For their unique understanding of, and compassionate response to the community University of Colorado Health is honored for their Commitment to Community.

Zane from Serve 6.8
Spirit of the Red Cross – Serve 6.8
Weeks before the High Park Fire, community volunteers banded together to help those in need in our communities as Serve 6.8. Little did they know how much they would be needed over the next two years. From emotional care, to sheltering, to helping families as they travel the long road of recovery after a disaster, Serve 6.8 has truly helped to alleviate human suffering in the face of disasters. They are compassionate, caring, credible and collaborative as they truly live the Spirit of the Red Cross.

Erik Wyatt (in uniform)
Youth Lifesaver – Erik Wyatt
11 year old Erik Wyatt has always had a heart for helping others. In the Scouts he got trained to be mature beyond his years and to be courageous enough to help those in need. He is a hero in a small and unassuming package. Little did he know that his training, courage and maturity would help him to save a life the life of his little brother. For courage, calm and decisive action in a life threatening situation Erik Wyatt is honored as an American Red Cross Youth Lifesaver.

Celebrating a Century of Community Heroes is a unique celebration of the individuals and organizations that have touched lives in our community through acts of extraordinary heroism and service. In 2014, the American Red Cross celebrates 100 years of service in Colorado. Join us as we honor the past year of heroes who helped our neighbors during emergencies including the Colorado Floods, reflect on a century of service, and look to a future of another 100 years providing compassion to the communities of Northern Colorado.

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. For more information, please visit

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

My Red Cross Story: Proud of My Lifesaving Son on Prom Night

Hunter Hoagland on Prom Night
My son, Hunter, was trained as a lifeguard by the Red Cross and worked this past summer as a lifeguard for Pinehurst Country Club. He is a junior at Dakota Ridge High School. Several weeks ago as Prom season was kicking into gear, he was asked to a Prom at another high school.

He arrived at a home where pictures were taken.  He and his date exchanged flowers, smiled big for the camera and boarded a bus for transportation to dinner. As the bus was emptying, a young man from another bus boarded Hunter’s bus, vomited and passed out. As others avoided the boy and made their way to the door, Hunter as well as the bus driver noticed that the young man was in trouble. He was not breathing.

Without thought to his tux, date or situation, Hunter administered CPR until the bus driver could reach a hospital several blocks away. Hunter and his date stayed with the young man until he was stabilized in the hospital. The bus driver and hospital personnel praised Hunter’s quick and decisive action in helping the young man out of a clearly life threatening situation.

I have included a picture of Hunter in his tux prior to the Prom. I would imagine there aren’t many formal life saving opportunities!

I believe you guys should know that your training can and does make a difference in many situations, clearly it did here. And I would hope that you would be as proud of Hunter as his family and friends are.

Jack Hoagland

Note: Yes, Jack, we are as proud as a papa that Hunter was such a hero and used his training to save a life! We are very impressed with his calm under pressure, compassion and service. Way to go, Hunter!

Have you used your Red Cross skills to help someone in need? Was your life saved by someone trained in CPR? Share YOUR Red Cross story at