Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Preparedness Success Story at Quincy Ridge Apartments

Since November 2012, the American Red Cross in Colorado has been working with the Aurora Fire Department to create an extension of their Apartment Managers Fire Prevention Training Program.  Aurora Fire teaches a full day class for apartment managers on how to prevent fires at their properties, and the Red Cross has offered to work with each of those properties, once they’re trained, on preparedness projects with their residents and staff.

Becky Karlin at Quincy Ridge Apartments is the first property manager to take Aurora Fire and the Red Cross up on this offer, and she put together a great Community Day on Saturday, August 24. Approximately 53 people attended the event, barbequed, played on fire and police vehicles, got info from Farmers Insurance and received a personalized Disaster Preparedness training from the Red Cross.  

James Knight (complete with awesome 'stache)
shows how he is getting prepared
“The Aurora Fire Department is excited to be building partnerships with like-minded organizations to help our community members be prepared, knowing that the time to prepare for an emergency is not during the emergency,” said Captain Diane Lord, PIO – Community Relations for the Aurora Fire Department.

For Karlin and her residents, the feeling was mutual.

“The residents and staff of Quincy Ridge Apartments would like to thank the Red Cross, Aurora Fire Department, and our Aurora Police Department PAR Officer for taking time on a Saturday to attend our Community Preparedness Day,” said Karlin, Apartment Manager at Quincy Ridge. “Natural disasters and emergencies are very real events that we all have a responsibility to be prepared for.”

The Red Cross, for our part, is always eager to get willing communities prepared.

Chloe, Chyenne, and Elijah say they're getting prepared by
"getting a backpack full of supplies in case of emergency."
“Not one of us can be prepared for disasters on our own, in isolation,” said Cari Wheat, Community Preparedness and Resiliency Manager for the American Red Cross. “It has to be a community effort; one where we get to know the people that we’ll be helping and be helped by during disasters.”

So, what’s next? The Red Cross plans to work with Quincy Ridge and Aurora Fire to plan some fire drills and other disaster preparedness projects with residents, and hopefully develop a resident council that will own this type of planning in the future.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Meet Your Bloggers: Kendra Uhl

Hey everyone! My name is Kendra Uhl. I am excited to be joining the team as a preparedness blogger.

I am in my last semester of senior year in Political Science at Metropolitan State University of Denver. I was born and raised in Arvada, CO. After high school I lived briefly in California and Washington, respectively. I loved both, but I missed seeing the mountains on my morning commute, 300 days of sunshine, and the incomparable Colorado sunsets. So I came home to Colorado for college.

In my spare time I enjoy hiking, biking and touring our great state. I was fortunate to have time this summer for an abundance of all three. When possible I am accompanied by my 160 pound mastiff, Fang, named after the mastiff in Harry Potter which I grew up reading and still adore, but my literary love does not stop there. If I am not working, studying or adventuring, I am most likely reading. Currently I am working my way through a list of classics. And now, I am eager to be adding Red Cross events to my off-time activities.

This is my first position with the Red Cross, but I have been volunteering with other institutions for a little over a year. It has given me a focus for my passion and direction that I didn’t have before. Out of that passion and direction has grown a goal to apply and hopefully serve in the Peace Corps. I am slowly, but surely, learning French for a likely assignment in Africa. Also to that end, I applied with the Red Cross to bolster my volunteer experience. Whether or not that goal is realized I am glad to be here blogging for the Red Cross.

Wray Community Helps Elderly Woman

This is the story of how one act of kindness can build into a network of help.

When an elderly lady fell outside a store in Wray, Colo., Brad Weese could have simply helped her up, brushed her off and sent her on her way.  But he went above and beyond that day.   
Brad is the Director of the Wray Recreation Center in eastern Colorado. He had just finished purchasing water bottles for the center’s lifeguards at a local store when a local school teacher approached him and asked if he could help a lady who had fallen and was struggling to get up. It turned out to be a long-time Wray resident that Brad knew.

“I have known her since my tricycle riding days growing up in Wray and she was always so friendly and still is,” Brad said.

Brad, who is trained in Red Cross first aid, joined the teacher to help the woman to her feet and assess her condition.  She said she was not in any pain, but she seemed very weak and was having a little trouble standing on her own.  The teacher offered to drive her home and Brad offered to follow them in the woman’s car. 

As he took the lady to the car, he asked if she had family he could contact.  She said no, but did mention that the neighbor, who was a member of the county sheriff’s department, would help her if she needed.  Once the pair got her home, they gave her some water, cleaned a scratch on her elbow, convinced her to visit the doctor and drove her there.

Brad says what he witnessed in the hours to come was “what makes it so cool to live in a small town.”  The lady’s neighbor agreed to check on her any time, the school teacher got her some lunch from the senior meal program and Brad gave her his phone number and told her she could call his office any time if she needed help.  He also offered that his children could help around her house.  When he went to check on her later that day, he said she seemed to have regained her strength and was more alert. Brad has been checking on her since.

“Thankfully she had no broken bones,” Brad says.  It was a scare, but the community rallied to help someone in need. 

At the Red Cross, we love these types of stories; they exemplify the spirit of service, the power of community, and the acts of compassion that are at the heart of what we do and what we hope to inspire in others. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

What's Your Game Plan?

September is National Preparedness Month, and the Colorado chapters of the American Red Cross are gearing up for a busy month! The theme for this year's campaign is simple: "What's Your Game Plan?"

The goal is to get as many Coloradans as possible prepared for an emergency: in your home, at work, at school, and wherever else you spend a lot of time.

Check out this PDF with some great tips to get started, and check out our calendar of events below! Happy Preparedness Month!

Red Cross Participates in Hazmat Evacuation Drill

On Saturday, August 24th the Red Cross participated in a hazmat evacuation drill in Craig. The Red Cross opened a shelter at the Boys & Girls Club of Craig. 12 volunteers from Moffat, Rio Blanco, Routt, Summit and Mesa Counties joined together for the exercise.

The 3 live-in houses that make up "Horizons for the Handicapped" practiced their evacuation plan by bringing all of their residents to the Red Cross shelter with their caregivers. It was an excellent opportunity for the residents and the Red Cross to test our ability to accommodate their needs!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Reflecting on the Anniversary of Katrina—A Red Cross Story

By Ashlee Herring
August 24, 1992, was a day that would change my life forever. For most people, it was just another summer day. For me it was the day Hurricane Andrew destroyed the only place I knew as home, a suburb southwest of Miami known as Kendall.

The days following Andrew were very hard as my mind tried to make sense of it all. I was not coping well and was the true definition of a “victim.” However, there was one sign of hope through it all. It began the day I saw a caravan of Red Cross emergency response vehicles coming into town. It was some of the first help to arrive and I still remember thinking, “Thank goodness, help is here.” From that moment, I knew I wanted to become a member of the Red Cross. I wanted to do what they were doing.

August 29, 2005 -- thirteen years later, almost to the day -- I was standing outside the Red Cross Chapter in Baton Rouge, LA, as the first bands of Katrina began to come in. I had already been working for three days with little sleep as a member of the chapter’s Emergency Services staff. We knew this storm would be nothing any of us had experienced before.  I’ll never forget being told at the end of a conference call, “This is the type of disaster that will make you or break you. Get ready.” We were all a little intimidated, but this time, I was a part of the solution. I was the one who would be sending the Red Cross emergency response vehicles out so someone else could say, “Thank goodness, help is here.”

Following the storm, my life came to a standstill outside of Katrina and the Red Cross. The days turned into weeks, and the weeks turned into months. We improvised, created resources where there were none, and bent (broke) all of the rules. We completely rewrote the book on disaster response. I had never been so exhausted in my entire life, nor had I ever learned so much.

Our last Baton Rouge area shelter closed in December 2005. We finally began to catch our breath in January. There were areas we had fallen short and times we couldn’t do everything we wanted. But in the end, we had done it. We had responded to the worst disaster in our history. Along the way, every single one of us found our breaking point at least once, some of us two or three times. We watched each other cry and closed our fellow workers in offices when they needed a time-out. We also discovered just how much we were capable of. In those months I had watched countless ordinary people do incredible things….stories that never made it to the media, but I saw them happen every day.

Eight years later, I find myself in Colorado on the anniversaries of both Andrew and Katrina. Much has changed in my life over the years, but I am still a member of the Red Cross. The Mile High Chapter will be the fifth chapter I’ve worked or volunteered in over a period of ten years. Work and family obligations keep me from deploying right now, so I contribute in other ways. My Red Cross work these days mostly involves teaching, preparedness and public affairs. I give as a member of the Red Cross by sharing my experiences with a new volunteer, ensuring the community is ready for a disaster, and by telling the Red Cross story. There have been days I wanted to quit and times I tried to quit, but as they say, “Once Red Cross gets in your blood; you will always be a Red Crosser.”

Friday, August 16, 2013

New Disaster Response Trailer Arrives in Pueblo

by William Fortune
The Pueblo Branch showcased their new response trailer in Pueblo on Thursday, Aug. 15. The trailer was sponsored by U.S. Bank and will be a big improvement over the old, smaller, single axle trailers.

Pikes Peak Chapter CEO Tom Gonzalez was instrumental in securing this trailer and several others to improve the chapter's capacity to respond to disasters. He also secured new cots, blankets and other supplies to support Red Cross responses.

Pueblo Logistics Lead Bob McCown was on hand Thursday to receive the trailer. "This is a very nice trailer, much better than our old one," McCown said.

Alice Birch, US Bank Marketing President and Executive Board Member for Pikes Peak Red Cross, joined local Red Cross volunteers to unveil the new trailer. "U.S. Bank has been a strong supporter of the American Red Cross, and I can see how this will improve disaster response in southern Colorado," Birch said.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Back-To-School Preparedness Tips!

by Marci Murray

Summer is quickly coming to a close; school will be starting again all too soon (if it hasn't already for your family). Preparing for school is more than new school supplies and clothes, however. Don’t forget to add these items to your back-to-school list to keep your family healthy and safe:

  • Immunizations—Visit the State of Colorado Health and Welfare website ( to learn which immunizations are required and recommended for different age levels.
  • Emergency Contact Information—If you or your emergency contact has moved or changed phone numbers, don’t forget to update this information with your children’s school and/or day care.
  • Home Security—If children may be home alone after school, ensure smoke and security alarms function, exterior doors lock, exterior lights come on, and garage door and/or security system codes work.
  • House Rules—If children may be home alone after school, establish rules addressing situations such as when a stranger knocks on the front door, if friends are allowed when no adults are home, and what activities are permissible while unsupervised.
  • Family Emergency Plan—Create and practice plans for home, neighborhood, or city-wide emergencies. Include family and community phone numbers, a neighborhood meeting place, and the disaster/first-aid supplies kit. 

Visit to create an individual family emergency plan.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Helping Manitou Springs Residents Clean Up After Flooding

by William Fortune

The American Red Cross opened a Disaster Assistance Center on Tuesday, Aug. 13, to provide recovery assistance and clean-up tools for Manitou Springs residents and business owners affected by flash flooding that has caused extensive damage.

Red Cross volunteers met with affected residents, provided comfort, and handed out shovels, clean-up kits and work gloves. Many homes and businesses were awash with mud and debris that flowed into the town from flash flooding caused by heavy rains over the Waldo Canyon Burn scar.
Volunteer Eileen Pekarak (pictured above) talked with Manitou Springs resident Charles (C.H.) Rocky about recovery and other support resources that are available. Charles said he appreciated the information the Red Cross gave him and the clean up supplies.

"I saw your volunteers in the community on Saturday and Sunday. They were talking to people about how to be safe and things to watch out for," Rocky said. "The folks I talked to were very helpful and told me to come here (to the assistance center) for more help.  You guys have been great. Thanks for helping in our community."

Mr. Rocky is a resident and business owner and has focused mainly on cleaning the basement/storage area. He said the mud was over a foot deep, but he had brought in help to get most of it out. The clean-up kit will help him get the rest out and prevent more damage from mold and mildew.