Monday, April 30, 2018

Sound the Alarm: The volunteer experience

On Saturday, April 28th I got to be a part of an amazing experience within the American Red Cross. Myself and a bunch of other volunteers got to be a part of the Sound the Alarm Campaign by helping reduce home fires by installing free smoke alarms inside people's homes.

Did you know that every day, seven people die in home fires? Most in homes that lack working smoke alarms. The American Red Cross wants to improve the odds and save lives and that's why the Red Cross launched their Home Fire Campaign back in 2014.

My Duties along with other Red Cross volunteers consisted of:

  • Installing free smoke alarms
  • Replace batteries in existing alarms
  • Provide fire prevention and safety education 
  • Canvass at-risk neighborhoods 

Thanks to all the volunteers and partners who participated in the Sound the Alarm Campaign across Western New York they ended up installing over 711 free smoke alarms, surpassing our goal of 550!! That's over 220 homes and families made safer. The Sound the Alarm Campaign at the Southern Tier Red Cross Chapter installed over 330 free smoke alarms on that same day!

 If you are interested in volunteering it's not too late! On Saturday, May 5th the Greater Rochester Red Cross Chapter is holding their Sound the Alarm Campaign. Also, the Central New York Chapter and Finger Lakes Chapter is holding their Sound the Alarm Campaign on Saturday, May 12th. For more information on how you can be involved visit:

--Angela Lorusso
Communications Intern

Monday, April 23, 2018

Volunteerism: Above & Beyond

I spotted a whole box of bagels at the kitchen on Friday!

“Doug is here!” said by one staff member at the Central New York Chapter. The “anonymous” guy (at least he thinks he is) is Doug North, who was here at the Syracuse office attending a meeting for the launch of Sound the Alarm and he brought us bagels like he often does.

Today, I am going to introduce you to Doug North, our amazing volunteer. Last Wednesday, Doug was presented with the Volunteerism: Above & Beyond award from the United Way of Central New York, honoring his exemplary selfless service to members of the community. Doug became a Red Cross Volunteer with the Central New York Chapter on October 9, 2014. He is an outstanding Chapter Disaster Action Team Leader responsible for coordinating the efforts of his team as first responders on the scene of a local disaster. The team responds to disaster scenes, day or night, so they can provide emergency assistance to families who have been displaced due to fires, floods, etc. He and his team responded to 47 emergency calls in 2017.

Doug works full time, but he logged an amazing 2,066 disaster response on-call hours and an impressive 423 general hours volunteering in a variety of positions last year. In addition to Disaster Services, he works as a volunteer caseworker for the Service of the Armed Forces Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) team. Doug provided 20 briefings for 963 family members of new military recruits.

When Doug and his team respond to home fires, they meet with the impacted residents to determine their immediate needs. “They may have just lost everything and what we can do is to provide the financial assistance to provide them clothes, to book hotels for them, to help them get through the first few days,” said Doug. No matter what the need, Doug never hesitates to leave his bed, his home and his family to help strangers in their time of greatest need. His family says they don’t think he knows the words “no” or “can’t.” Doug is often on call, and he volunteered his time on Independence Day and Thanksgiving last year. It’s in his nature to help people in need. The question they often ask is, “What should I do now?” It may be 2 a.m., they’re in their pajamas watching their home burn and here comes the Red Cross to offer help and comfort.

When I asked Doug to give me some inspiring quotes so that we can pass on to people. He said, “I don’t know if I really have any inspiring quotes, but I know the Red Cross is helping people when they are lost. The power of the Red Cross is being able to coordinate with our partners and supporters to pass the kindness of people to those in need.” People like Doug, and other Red Cross volunteers build bridges to help in their lowest points.

Thank you, Doug for all you do for our community.

Cara Wang - Communications Intern

Monday, April 9, 2018

Pet First Aid Awareness Month

April is Pet First Aid Awareness Month which means it's time for pet lovers to participate in the American Red Cross Cat and Dog First Aid online course and download the Pet First Aid App.

People can access the course on their desktop or tablet at and go through the content at their own pace. The course takes approximately 30 minutes and participants can stop and pick up where they left off if Fluffy needs a treat.

The interactive course includes:

  • How to determine a pet's normal vital signs so that owners can notice if there are any irregularities
  • Step-by-step instructions and visual aids for what to do if a pet is choking, needs CPR, has a wound, or if having a seizure
  • Information on preventative care, health and tips for a pet's well-being 

"All pet owners, pet-sitters and dog walkers should know what to do in an emergency until veterinary care is available," said Deborah C. Mandell, VMD, DACVECC, member of the American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council, and professor at Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. "The Red Cross Cat and Dog First Aid online course and the Pet First Aid App are both easy and convenient ways to learn life-saving skills."

The app will also help cat and dog owners keep their pets safe by learning what emergency supplies to have, when they should contact their veterinarian, and where to find a pet care facility or pet-friendly hotel. Users will learn how to assemble a pet first aid kit and an emergency kit. Owners will have step-by-step instructions, videos and images for more than 25 common first aid and emergency situations including how to treat wounds, control bleeding, and care for breathing and cardiac emergencies. 

Download the app. The free Pet First Aid App provides instant access to expert guidance on how to maintain your pet's health, what to do in emergencies, and how to include pets in your emergency preparedness plans. 

The Pet First Aid App can be downloaded by texting 'GETPET' to 90999, by going to, or by searching for 'American Red Cross' in app stores. 

Angela Lorusso
--Communications Intern 

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Red Cross Alarm Saves Lives

Four people safely escaped a fire at their Lodi, NY home in November 2017, thanks to smoke alarms that had been previously installed by American Red Cross volunteers.

"The alarms went off and you could hear a power surge going through the wall, crackling it." Resident of the home Don Hayes said. He was one of the four people inside the home at the time of the fire.

The residents say the walls in their home became hot to the touch and that's when they realized something was wrong. The fire was electrical, caused by a nail being inside of the paneling of the house. It knocked the power out and before the residents knew it, a fire started going up the paneling on the wall.

"Carl Schwab stated that he was glad we installed the smoke alarms previously as it gave them time to respond to the fire. The alarms in the bedroom where the fire started sounded first, then the other alarms went off." Red Cross volunteer Richard Parker said.

The residents say they were able to evacuate safely after the alarms went off with the help of the fire escape plan developed with the Red Cross. When the home started to fill with smoke, Carl Schwab says his son started to use a fire extinguisher to help. When the smoke wasn't going away, the residents then called the fire department and evacuated the home.

"Carl kept a level head during the fire and didn't panic." -Resident Don Hayes said.

Schwab says that what he learned from the Red Cross kept him from panicking.

"By Carl doing what he did and knowing what to do, he kept a level head and got me out when the house could have gone up in fire." Resident Don Hayes said.

"Carl said that he knew he did not have much time to evacuate because he has learned how quickly a home could go up during a fire during the visit from Red Cross," said Parker, who responded to the fire as a member of the Disaster Action Team.

The Red Cross put up the four residents until their house was fixed and livable. The residents also made sure they had new alarms re-installed by the Red Cross after they returned to their rebuilt home.

"People should have smoke alarms everywhere. They need them," says Carl Schwab. "Without them you won't know anything and will sleep right through it."-Schwab said. Experts say you can have as little as two minutes to safely escape a home fire, and working smoke alarms can help cut the risk of dying in a home fire in half. The Red Cross is asking everyone to help Sound the Alarm this spring, when we'll be installing 2,000 free smoke alarms in homes across Western and Central New York, while providing important fire safety information and encouraging families to put together and practice escape plans. For more information, or to sign up for a free smoke installation, visit

-Angela Lorusso
Communications Intern