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

Monday, March 12, 2018

Red Cross Disability Integration Helps Indiana Volunteer Serve

EDITORS NOTE: Regional Communications Officer Jay Bonafede recently returned from a one-week deployment to Indiana, working with the flood relief operation.

“My husband and son are disabled, so advocacy is something I’ve been doing on their behalf for years,” says American Red Cross volunteer Dana Goldsmith. “To do so on behalf of the Red Cross is really exciting.”

Volunteers J.R. Raines of Indiana and Dana Goldsmith of Colorado
are leading Disability Integration during the Indiana flood response
in spring 2018. "This is long overdue, and it overlaps with
everything I learned in other activities," Goldsmith says. "We talk
to everyone on a relief operation." Photo and story by:
Jay Bonafede, American Red Cross
Goldsmith is advocating as the Disability Integration lead for her home Red Cross chapter, region, and division at home in Colorado. In late February 2018, she deployed to Indiana to help lead Disability Integration during the flood relief operation, along with local volunteer J.R. Raines.

“There’s an expertise level that comes with people that live with it every day. Who to call, where to find resources,” Goldsmith says. “It’s about bringing that disability piece to the table in everything we do. That’s our goal.”

Disability Integration, which the Red Cross began about a year and a half ago, means more than simply making sure shelters are accessible. In Indiana, for example, Goldsmith and Raines are putting together a resource guide for the region to identify additional support available for people with disabilities that will help long after this disaster response is wrapped up, and are working to build relationships with the Center for Independent Living to use their facilities for future training.

“We’re trying to make volunteerism more inclusive,” Goldsmith says. “Training, classes, locations, it all has to be accessible. People want to help, but there’s not a lot of agencies that can do that. We can.”

“I do a lot of positions with the Red Cross,” says Raines. “Disaster Action Team, Services to Armed Forces. I wanted to be in the military, this is my way to be in the military.”

Shelters open up after a winter storm

Shelters opened across the Western and Central New York Region due to a winter storm and power outages. Following up on this recent storm, The American Red Cross has closed eight storm shelters. Shelters were closed on Sunday, March 4th, as residents have been able to return back to their homes. Anyone that is still in need of additional assistance is encouraged to call his or her local Red Cross Chapter.

Thank you to Red Cross Volunteers whom operated at these following storm shelters:

CENTRAL NEW YORK CHAPTER (Chapter phone: 315-234-2200):
  • Oneida Recreation Center
  • 217 Cedar St., Oneida
SOUTHERN TIER RED CROSS CHAPTER (Chapter phone: 607-785-7207):
  • Owego Free Academy
  • 1 Sheldon Guile Blvd., Tioga County
  • Windsor High School
  • 1191 Route 79, Broome County
  • Chenango Forks High School
  • 1 Gordon Dr., Binghamton 
WESTERN NEW YORK CHAPTER (Chapter phone: 716-886-7500):
  • Bolivar-Richburg High School
  • 100 School St., Bolivar
  • Alfred University
  • 1 Saxon Drive, Alfred 
  • Ellicottville High School 
  • 5873 Rt. 219, Ellicottville
FINGER LAKES CHAPTER (Chapter phone: 607-936-3766):
  • Canisteo High School
  • 84 Greenwood St., Steuben County

How the Red Cross encourages families to stay safe during a winter storm:
  • Minimize travel outdoors. If travel is necessary, keep a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle.
  • Running water, even at a trickle, helps prevent pipes from freezing.
  • Protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia by wearing warm, loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in several layers. If possible, try to stay indoors. 
  • Visit for more information on how to make an emergency kit! 

-Angela Lorusso
Communications Intern