Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Red Cross Joins Amateur Radio Community on Field Day 2016

Story and Photos by Lorin Schroeder

On June 25 the CO-WY Regional Emergency Communication Team (EMCOMM) participated in the 2016 ARRL Amateur Radio Field Day event. ARRL Field Day is the most popular on-the-air event held annually in the US and Canada. On the fourth weekend of June, more than 35,000 amateur radio operators gather with their clubs, groups or simply with friends to operate from remote locations. (

Jim Romines, works the radio at 2016 Field Day
The CO-WY EMCOMM team partnered with the Village 7 Amateur Radio Club (V7ARC) and the Meteorological Research and Education Organization (MEREO) in Colorado Springs for this year’s Field Day. Saint Francis Medical Center generously allowed these groups to utilize a vacant field just east of the hospital at Woodmen and Powers in Colorado Springs. They were joined by amateur radio operators from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office using a mobile communications truck. Partners from the El Paso – Teller county 911 authority were on site with a trailer to teach the general public home fire safety.

Red Cross Emergency Communications trailer on site at
ARRL Field Day 2016

During the 24-hour operational time CO-WY EMCOMM team members staffed the amateur radio in either phone (voice) or CW (Morse code) mode and contacted 38 U.S. states and one providence in Canada. The operators were faced with less than ideal radio operational conditions and had an abundance of opportunities to hone their skills. By participating in this year’s event, the CO-WY EMCOMM team was able to strengthen relationships with some of our local partners and share the Red Cross story with members of the public.

The CO-WY EMCOMM team mission is to support our American Red Cross Mission and relay routine and emergency messages by mobilizing the power of volunteers and serving with community partners. Not every EMCOMM team member needs to be a licensed amateur radio operator. If you are interested in joining the EMCOMM team, please contact Lorin Schroeder (Regional Lead - EMCOMM Team American Red Cross of Colorado and Wyoming) at

Friday, June 17, 2016

Heat is Hard on Pets, Too!

By Bill Fortune
When temperatures soar, the hotter weather can pose a danger to family pets. The American Red Cross has steps to take to ensure your pet stays safe this summer:

HOT CARS DEADLY FOR PETS Pet owners should not leave their animal in the car - even for a few minutes - when the hot weather arrives. The inside temperature of the car can quickly reach 120 degrees. Pet owners are urged to refrain from leaving animals in the car, even with the windows cracked open.

Red Cross Pet First Aid App will help
you recognize when pet behavior is normal
and when to be concerned
ANIMALS CAN SUFFER HEAT STROKE Heat stroke is a common problem for pets in the warmer weather. Dogs with short noses or snouts, like the boxer or bulldog, are prone to heat stroke. This is also true for any obese pet, a pet with an extremely thick fur coat or any pet with upper respiratory problems such as laryngeal paralysis or collapsing trachea. Some of the signs of heat stroke in your pet are:

  • Heavy panting and unable to calm down, even when lying down.
  • Brick red gum color
  • Fast pulse rate
  • Unable to get up.

If you suspect your pet has heat stroke, take their temperature rectally. If the temperature is above 105 degrees, cool the animal down. The easiest way to do this is by using the water hose. Stop cooling the animal when the temperature reaches 103 degrees. Bring your pet to the veterinarian as soon as possible as heat stroke can lead to severe organ dysfunction and damage.

Down load the Pet First Aid app and you can have pet care tips at your fingertips whenever you need them. The app is available from your preferred app provider or at To learn more about pet safety you will find more information on our website,

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Youth Volunteers Give Back to Community and Gain Valuable Experience

by Kyle Fiehler

Matthew Schramm, 17, is into saving people. On top of being a three-summer veteran of Fort Carson’s Evans Army Community Hospital volunteer program, he works as a lifeguard and ultimately thinks he would like to pursue a career in medicine. He may even become a pharmacist, though he wasn’t considering that exact field before he started working at Evans.

Fort Carson’s Evans Army Community Hospital (EACH) volunteer program is designed to give 14 to 17-year-olds from military families a glimpse into the health professions and a way to give back to the very communities from which they come. It’s “a mutually beneficial program,” according to Gaby Skovira, Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces Manager and Red Cross liaison for the program, where young Red Cross volunteers can contribute to the organization’s mission of service to the Armed Forces and in return are able to “try on” careers in the medical field to determine whether or not they would like to pursue one themselves.

Matthew Schramm is flanked by his mother, Deborah  and two
members of the Daughters of the American Revolution who
recognized him for his volunteer work in 2014.
For the Evans Army Community Hospital, the summer program provides some administrative relief during an especially busy time, when many families are either transferring on or off the post and children are getting physicals completed. Schramm, who began working in the pharmacy due to its perpetual need for more volunteers, has found that he’s able to contribute much more there than he was while working in same-day surgery. As one of the program’s more seasoned participants, he’s able to fill prescriptions while under supervision and mentor younger volunteers. The immensity of this responsibility is not lost on him.

“It’s so organized there and so awesome how everyone works together,” Schramm said of working in the pharmacy. He also loves the feeling of giving back to the veterans that stop by for their medicine. “I’m not doing that much, but in their eyes I’m doing everything for them. It always brings a smile to their faces.”

According to Skovira, for military families prone to relocating, the program also provides teens with an avenue for earning professional experience that takes their background into account and doesn’t rely on the beginnings of a professional network for landing an internship.

It offers the teens experience in everything from interviewing for a position (a mandatory precursor to placement), to setting up patient rooms, transporting patients and lab specimens and helping out with filing, the front desk and answering phones. “We treat them like adults,” Skovira said, “and they know there are certain requirements for them in order to be a part of the program.”

Students learn CPR and AED at the Heartsaver training
for EACH Youth Volunteers. Photo by Joe Coleman
Clara Huff, a retired nurse and current Red Cross volunteer lead for the program, has seen its enrollment jump from about 25 students to close to 40 in the eight years she’s been involved in the program.

Schramm is perhaps more practical than most kids his age when deciding on his plans for after high school and the program. He has the ability to run track at the collegiate level, but he knows that would leave little time for pharmacy school. He would like to move to California, but thinks he’ll end up opting for in-state tuition and a Colorado school. He has some tough decisions ahead of him, but a promising future and already some incredible work experience.

An EACH Youth Volunteer practices
infant CPR at the Heartsaver training.
Photo by Joe Coleman
A new "crop" of young volunteers had their first week at the Fort Carson recently. The first week is all about training, expectations and orientation. It included briefings and discussions about possible assignments and ended with the students learning how save a life with CPR and AED training. This year there are 42 registered EACH Youth Volunteers who will contribute close to 5000 hours of volunteer service at the hospital.

For these volunteers the possibilities are endless as they learn about giving back to their community, supporting the military and developing new skills that will be with them forever.

The EACH Fort Carson Youth Volunteer program is opened at the end of each school year. Applicants must have access to Fort Carson. If you would like to learn more about Fort Carson’s Evans Army Community Hospital volunteer program, whether as an adult supervisor (with or without medical credentials), or as a youth volunteer you can contact Gaby Skovira at

Monday, June 6, 2016

Celebrating Community Heroes

The American Red Cross recognizes that heroes come in all shapes and sizes and that ordinary people can do extraordinary things.  At the annual Celebrating Community Heroes Dinner that was held at the Colorado State University in Fort Collins, June 1, 2016, those heroes were recognized for their significant contribution to the community or to the lives of others. The Red Cross presented four awards honoring local heroes during the American Red Cross Celebrating Community Heroes Dinner.

The Heroes Dinner is a celebration of the Red Cross spirit as exemplified in lifesaving heroes in Colorado. A cutting-edge, unique evening of inspiration and entertainment, the Soiree is also the American Red Cross of Northern Colorado Area’s largest fundraiser of the year.

Professional Lifesaver: Weld County Deputy Sheriff Christopher Bashkov and Weld County Deputy Sheriff Dayle Rosebrock saved the lives of separate victims in Greeley less than six months apart. In each incident, the individual overdosed on heroin, which is increasing in popularity in today’s drug culture. Both rescuers responded to their calls, code three, which is the most urgent response. The officers arrived prior to fire or ambulance response which required them to use their extensive training to save two lives. Neither victim was breathing or had a pulse when help arrived, but responded to CPR and were saved. Thanks to these two Deputy Sheriffs, these lives were saved and there is an increased awareness on this growing problem.
Christopher Bashkov

Dayle Rosebrock

Spirit of the Red Cross: The Greeley Fire Department wanted to improve their save rates and help Greeley become a Heart Safe City. For a city to qualify for this status, it is evaluated on the rate of fatal heart attacks, number of people trained in CPR and number of AEDs (Automatic External Defibrillator) available to the citizens in the city. Through the increased training, these individuals felt it was important that city employees, members of the fire department and any other interested individuals, would have the opportunity to be trained in CPR/AED. Every time they had a class, they had more students than they could handle, showing the commitment of Greeley to become a Heart Safe City.
Janice Perekrestenko

Lt. Bill Diershow

Susan Frame

Commitment to Community: Larimer County Search and Rescue (LCSAR) is one of those organizations you may not know about, but is ready to help you if you need them. They provide search and rescue services throughout Larimer County and are called into action almost every week of the year. Performing their services in the rugged mountains as well flatlands of the Front Range takes a cadre of members willing to put their lives in harm’s way to help others. Each member of LCSAR undergoes hundreds of hours of training and carries a large variety of equipment to each rescue, as they never know exactly what they will encounter on the scene. A common misperception is that these services are expensive but you will never see a bill if you need Larimer County Search and Rescue; this is a volunteer group that gives their time just because they value the lives they same.

Volunteer Lifesaving Award: On July 15, 2015, Tabatha Lang, Thomas Lang and Matthew Rundle heard screams from the beach of Lake Windsor. Tabatha and Thomas Lang starting to assist a 3-year-old child who was not breathing, Matthew Rundle, an off-duty Eaton Police Officer, could see that the Langs needed help in this uncontrolled scene. He stepped in, moving the crowd back to a safe distance and allowing Tabatha and Thomas to start a rescue. The 3-year-old was not breathing, but still had a pulse. It was critically low at 80 beats per minute. Tabatha monitored the child’s pulse and Thomas gave rescue breaths until the child coughed up lake water. Matthew had cleared a path to the child and led rescue personnel to the scene.

Matthew Rundle

Tabitha Lang

Thomas Lang

Saving the Life of Someone You Love

Eric Myers(r) presents Red Cross Life Saver Award
to David McConkie (c) and shakes hands with Wyn
McConkie. Photo by Lorin Schroeder
by Samantha Baker

Over 11,800 individuals were trained to use CPR and First Aid in Western Colorado in 2015. It isn’t often that someone has to use these skills and even rarer that they are used on someone they know and love. The American Red Cross recognizes individuals who save lives using the training they received from the Red Cross. In the past, lifeguards, oil and gas industry workers, gym members and other everyday citizens have been awarded the American Red Cross Lifesaver Award. It is a recognition that is not given out often.

On March 26, 2016, Wyn McConkie suffers from severe migraines and decided to rest. She told her husband, David, to check on her in a while. When David went to check on his wife he found her unresponsive and not breathing. As a certified American Red Cross CPR instructor Mr. McConkie has trained hundreds to save lives over the last decade but until that day had never had to use his skills. His training kicked in as he began the rescue response process: Check, Call, Care. He called 911 and while his daughter Hailey held the phone he began chest compressions and rescue breaths. The Lower Valley Fire Department arrived after about five minutes and took over  the rescue. It wasn’t until he had no more control over his wife’s situation that Mr. McConkie began to experience the emotional trauma caused by watching a loved one come so close to death.

Mr. McConkie realized that the classes he teaches don’t really prepare you for the emotional effects after the incident. Executive Director of the Western Colorado chapter Eric Myers said the “training is focused on what to do when the time comes.” The training gives an individual the knowledge that they can act without hesitation should the need arise. Myers said, “It is better to do something than nothing.”

It is with this understanding that the McConkies have prepared their children to deal with similar situations in case of an emergency. David McConkie believes that every household should have at least one person who is trained. Their youngest child asked if the person performing CPR got tired if someone else could help them, something even Wyn McConkie didn’t know at the time. The answer is yes! Someone can always step in and assist.

Looking back months later, the family expressed it was still hard to think about what happened. On June 1, 2016, David McConkie was awarded the American Red Cross Lifesaver Award in a small ceremony that his wife and two children attended. McConkie said his actions were “not something you feel like you deserve an award for.” He was honored to be recognized but also expressed his gratitude to the 911 operator, Lower Valley Fire Department, his wife, St. Mary’s trauma unit and the Red Cross for its training.

After saving his wife, David McConkie said, “If you haven’t been trained in CPR get with your Red Cross and take a class, instructors are great and you never know when you are going to need it or who you are going to use it on. It’s a tool you’ll always have with you.”

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Anthem Emergency Preparedness Kits Handed Out During Home Fire Campaign

Anthem BCBS associate Brandi Montoya adds an
emergency blamket  to the emergency kit that was
handed out at the Home Fire Campaign
Being prepared for a potential disaster can help prevent injuries, and even save lives. That’s why dozens of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield (Anthem) associates joined with the American Red Cross in helping to ensure people in our communities are prepared and taking the necessary steps to stay safe.

The Anthem employees packed 400 emergency preparedness kits, filled with a number of useful items – including drinking water, a light, poncho, a thermal blanket and a Red Cross Emergency First Aid Guide – that were distributed by the Red Cross during its Home Fire Campaign in Federal Heights and Thornton on Saturday, May 14.  

 “Packing these kits was not only a great way to give back to the community, but served as a reminder to many of us that we need to be prepared for emergencies at home and at the office,” said Shalini Wittstruck, director of network management for Anthem, whose team packed the emergency preparedness kits at the start of a monthly staff meeting.

Anthem BCBS associates Tim Sanchez (l) and Jackie
Ferguson  help put together emergency kits for the
Home Fire Campaign
 Through the Home Fire Campaign, the Red Cross is providing families with fire prevention and preparedness tools and information— ultimately reducing injuries and decreasing a potential loss of life. Volunteers are going door-to-door installing smoke alarms, replacing smoke alarm batteries, completing fire safety checklists and helping develop disaster plans.

Anthem BCBS associates Itha Gabriel (l) and Erica Kloehn
select items for the emergency kits for the
Home Fire Campaign
“Home fires are the No. 1 disaster the Red Cross responds to in Colorado, and they’re every bit as devastating for the families who have lost everything,” said Gino Greco, CEO of the American Red Cross of Colorado and Wyoming.  “By taking some very simple measures, anyone can make sure they have working smoke alarms, and a plan to get their family out of their home in two minutes. Practice makes perfect, and if the time ever comes when tragedy strikes, the practice you do with your family could save their lives.”

To request a free fire safety visit and smoke alarm installation, contact the Red Cross at

The Red Cross Home Fire Campaign aims to reduce the number of fire deaths and injuries in the U.S. by 25 percent by visiting homes to install smoke alarms, replace smoke alarm batteries, complete home safety checklists and help families and individuals develop a disaster plan. Tools to make your plan are available at