Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The letter for today is C.

Chiclone, Cholera, #Crisisdata & so on...

Today at the Chicago Red Cross we’re talking about all things that begin with the letter C.

Chiclone 2010, billed as the “worst storm in 70 years” and “Great Lakes Cyclone” We’re expecting hurricane-force winds over Lake Michigan, high winds everywhere and possible tornadoes. Get prepared by familiarizing yourself with our safety tips on all things storm from how to deal with food safety issues after the power goes out to whether or not you should take a shower or bath during a rainstorm (you shouldn’t, learn why…)

Cholera. Here’s how we’re helping stem the cholera outbreak in Haiti.

#CrisisData Very cool stuff the Red Cross is working on re: integrating crisis response with social media. If you tweeted for help, would anyone be listening?

Cycling celebs. Celebrities are cycling to raise $1million for the American Red Cross and the Canadian Red Cross.

Choking. Halloween is this weekend and there will be lots of hard candies, caramels and popcorn around-all serious choking hazards-be prepared, know what to do to keep your little goblins safe. Another serious danger at Halloween? Cars.

Citizen CPR. Sounds exciting and a little dangerous in a good way-right? It’s almost like CPR is getting dressed up for Halloween with a newspaper hat and megaphone. We recently announced a new initiative to train 5 million people in hands-only CPR by the end of 2011 here’s how we’re getting started (including a one page info sheet which will give you the basics)

Martha Carlos (ooh another C) is the Senior Manager of Marketing and Communications at the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Make The Haunted Houses the Spookiest Part of Halloween

For many years you have walked the streets of your neighborhood, wearing ghastly get-ups and monstrous masks. Have you ever wondered where the creepiest and coolest holiday of the year originated? Was it the creation of a horror film that sparked this spooky night of candy and costumes?

It turns out that Halloween started as a cheery and bright fall festival where taffy fresh from the puller was served and hayrides were given to the children in townships across America. It wasn’t until the late 19th century when Irish immigrants began immigrating to the US that Halloween became creepier. Ghosts, goblins, ghouls, and monsters were brought into the celebration from these new Americans. The Irish brought another very important aspect of Halloween to American shores; the Jack-O-Lantern. In Ireland, rutabagas, turnips, and potatoes were hollowed out and faces of creepy creatures were carved into the now unearthed vegetables. These enlightened veggies were then used as lanterns for terrifying Halloween celebrations!

As mentioned earlier, candy is a necessity for a perfectly spooky Halloween eve. Candy, although delectable and inviting (My favorite candy is Dots, by the way), can be a serious choking hazard for those tiny tots and young children. The American Red Cross of Greater Chicago is dedicated to educating our community about some of the dangers about tasty little treats. Sometimes, sticky and small candies like taffies and mini chocolate bars cause young kids to choke. Here are some tips from our resident candy expert Joe Gray on how to help your child if they are choking on candy:

· If you think your child is choking, ask someone to call 911 immediately and take three simple steps to assist; check, call, care.

· Check to see if there is an obstruction or loss of breathing, if either are present ask someone to
· Call 911 and administer…
· Care If you find something lodged in the victim’s throat, use the Five and Five Method. Lean the person forward and give FIVE sharp back blows between the shoulder blades with the heel of your hand. If the obstruction isn't dislodged, stand behind the person and give FIVE quick, upward thrusts into the abdomen. Repeat back blows and abdominal thrusts as necessary.

Please heed the advice of Joe and make sure you know what to do in case of an emergency. More than 3,000 people die each year as a result of choking so make sure your little goblins and ghouls are snacking safely. We don’t want the spookiest part of your night to be seeing your little monster choking on chocolate. Also, take into consideration what your kids are eating. It’s ok to go through your kid’s candy bag! In fact, 90% of American adults admit to taking candy out of their kid’s Halloween collection. What you do with the candy is your choice, but if you’re going to eat it, make sure someone else knows what to do in case you run into some trouble with a chewy confection.

From all of us at the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago, have a safe and spooky Halloween!

*Joe Gray, Senior Director, Health & Safety Services for the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago (and a costumed Red Cross mascot) is available for interview about the dangers of Halloween candy as a choking hazard as well as to demonstrate how to assist someone who is choking. Please contact Martha at 312-729-6204 if you’re interested in learning more.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

It’s Just a Prick.

“An easy way to give back.”
“My dad did it regularly.”
“It saved my husbands life.”
“It saved my life.”

These are just a few of the reasons I heard at an American Red Cross blood drive on Northwestern’s medical school campus. These reasons were the motivation for several of the people I talked with about why they chose to donate blood. It was a bright, sunny afternoon with a slight brisk in the air. When walking up the building I wasn’t sure what to expect. I hadn’t really been to a blood drive before nor had I given blood myself. The nurses and staff were all very friendly and willing to talk to us.

Since the blood drive was taking place on Northwestern’s campus, it wasn’t a surprise that the majority of people were Northwestern med students taking an hour out of their busy school day to give back. When I started talking to another young man, who I assumed was a med student as well, he corrected me.

“It’s just this little thing I can do, you know? This little thing that can save someone’s life.” After talking further with him, I found out he had had two bad experiences with donating blood before this time. But for some reason, that didn’t stop him from doing it again today.

Another young woman who was a med student was volunteering to work the registration table. For her, donating blood was a family tradition. “I donate blood because my dad always did. So my sister and I have been doing it since we could. It just kind of seemed like the thing to do.”

But for some, it’s a little more personal. When talking to one of the nurses about how she got involved in the blood drive, she told us that a while back she was in an accident and needed 6 pints of blood. “If it wasn’t for blood donors, I wouldn’t be here today.” She is living proof of one little thing, can save someone’s life.

Donate blood. Save a life. It’s just a prick.

A close call with death. Elizabeth's Story

Elizabeth Pearlman has always been a basketball player; she started when she was in 2nd grade and when she started college joined the team at Loyola University. While running wind sprints, she began to feel fatigued. She didn’t want to appear weak so she physically pushed herself past the point of pain to keep running. The next thing she remembers “is having the floor come to my face” because she had suddenly collapsed to the ground. Here's her story in today's Southtown Star.

Terry Smith, the head athletic trainer, rushed over he saw her eyes rolling in the back of her head and that she was having difficulty breathing. Immediately realizing the magnitude of the situation he called an ambulance and started performing CPR on her. Showing no signs of response, he grabbed an AED and began to administer shocks to Elizabeth as she lay unresponsive on the gym floor. A few minutes later Elizabeth awoke unaware of her surroundings; lying on a stretcher in a moving ambulance.

While the specific cause is unclear, she soon learned that she has a genetic disorder called Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia (ARVD), in addition to having suffered from a pulmonary embolism. While she’s now physically fine her life has been altered. She isn’t able to play basketball anymore; a sport that has defined her for years.

Still, Elizabeth remains positive, she appreciates being alive and seeks to enjoy everyday to its fullest. She looks at things from a new perspective and is now an assistant coach for the basketball team. She is coming up on the one-year anniversary of this incident and wants to be an advocate for not only for genetic testing but also the presence of AEDs in all settings. Her goal is to prevent future injuries and deaths by raising awareness. She has turned a tragedy into an inspiration.

Julie Kahn is an intern in the marketing and communications department at the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Bank of America Chicago Marathon

36,000 runners gathered on Sunday, October 10th, 2010 (10/10/10) for the 26 mile-long Bank of America Chicago Marathon. The sun was out and was not holding back its powerful rays. Runners were pushed to their physical and mental limits, and unfortunately many runners needed emergency medical attention. The Chicago Marathon hosted some of the world's most elite runners for one of the fastest marathons in the premier circuit that will visit cities like Boston, New York, and London.

This was the first marathon that I have ever attended, and I was eager to get to the Charity Village tent and talk with our Run Red Team members. While watching our computer for updates on our runners, I noticed a good friend of mine walking in the tent. DeAnna Durham, a student at Loyola University Chicago (where I go to school), immediately approached me in the tent. I soon found out that her fiancé, Bob Spoerl, was running for the Run Red Team for the second time. Bob, a Journalism grad student at Northwestern University, finished the marathon with a scorching time of 3 hours, 28 minutes, and 30 seconds. After Bob had recuperated, we began to have discussion about his involvement with the Red Cross. Upon asking him why he decided to run for us, he stated that,

“I respect the work that the Red Cross of Greater Chicago does. I really appreciate how the Red Cross is there to help no matter who you are, and where you are. I mean, you can’t argue with running for such a great cause like that.” Spoerl and I continued with our conversation, and he noted that on the 7th mile of the race that his legs began to feel like “Jell-O”. I was curious about what kept him motivated during the race to keep running: “For me, a great source of inspiration was giving people high fives when I was running. I didn’t want to stop running. Also, I thought about my freshman football coach, and how he used to always inspire me to never give up and keep pushing forward.” I was baffled by how coherent and surprisingly energized Bob was after the race. I couldn’t imagine running 30-40 miles every single week, starting a year before the marathon, like Bob did in order to prepare for the Chicago Marathon. Bob’s training paid off, for he did not need to pay a visit to the emergency medical tent, where hundreds of other runners were seriously injured or severely dehydrated.

The American Red Cross of Greater Chicago played a crucial role during the Chicago Marathon. Our Patient Connection Program connected the families of injured, sick, or hospitalized runners with their families. My principal responsibility at the Chicago Marathon was to work at our tent in Charity Village, but as the heat climbed well into the 80s, the runners began to collapse as fast as the temperature went up. I was soon relocated to the Patient Connection Program command center by the Balbo Medical Tent to find and contact runners in the tent, and to deliver updates to the families and loved ones or the runners. As soon as 10 patients are sent to the Medical Tent or have been hospitalized, the Red Cross activates this program in order to maintain a constant stream of communication between the runner and their family. The American Red Cross of Greater Chicago connected nearly 100 runners with their families that day, and I will never forget the faces of those who were so happy to hear that their friend or family member was in good hands.

My name is Zach Zimmerman, and I am a Red Cross Communicator.