People across the country are reminded that March is Red Cross Month, which commemorates the Red Cross involvement. In Knoxville, Ky., the Red Cross chapter will conduct a “Free CPR Saturday,” which teaches life-saving skills to the community, without any fees. In Alabama, the Red Cross Gulf Coast Blood Services Region is hosting ice cream socials to thank its various volunteers. Miles away, Red Cross flags are blowing in downtown Santa Barbara, Calif. These are just a few examples of the nationwide events scheduled for Red Cross Month.
The American Red Cross uses the month of March as an opportunity to promote its services to the American public and for fund raising. “Together, we can save a life”, is their known mantra to many.
Often, when a disaster occurs, Red Cross volunteers not only provide food and shelter, but a peace of mind as well. There is a vast gamut of services that include biomedical services, disaster services, health and safety services and international services.
The Red Cross Month commemoration was conceived back in the 1940s after the Red Cross started a “Roll Call” drive to increase public support during wartime. After many discussions with then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was the honorary person of the Red Cross, an official call for support was declared, resulting in the entire month of March as Red Cross Month.
“I summon the men, women and young people of our country, in every city and town and village, in every country and state throughout the land, to enlist in the army of mercy mobilized under the banner of the Red Cross War Fund,” Roosevelt stated in the 40s when he declared Red Cross Month.
Within six weeks, the public effort seized more than $125 million in donations.
The theme for Red Cross Month is preparedness this year. Marsha J. Evans, current Red Cross president and CEO warned the American public, to remember the essential importance of being prepared in growing concerns about terrorism, manmade disasters, already in addition to onslaught fires, tornadoes, floods and other natural disasters that many Americans continue to be unprepared for.
“Close to 60 percent of Americans are wholly unprepared for a disaster of any description,” Evans said. “They don’t have a family emergency plan, nor are they aware of school, workplace and community procedures. They have not stocked emergency supplies, nor have they sought even basic first-aid and CPR training. They’re not giving blood, nor are they donating their time or money to emergency support services.”
To help aid in reversing this pattern, the Red Cross launched the “Together We Prepare” campaign in 2003, challenging individuals, businesses and communities alike to take responsibility for their safety and that of their families, homes and their neighborhoods.
There are five basic steps everyone can use in order to provide greater safety.
1. Make a plan. Design a family (home) disaster plan. Work with neighbors and co-workers to create a community and workplace disaster plans.
2. Build a kit. Assemble Disaster Supply Kits, which contain items that people may need if confined to their home or place of business for an extended period or if they are told to evacuate on short notice.
3. Get trained. Learn to save lives. The Red Cross offers classes year-round to individuals and businesses on first aid, CPR, defibrillator use and much more.
4. Volunteer. Supporting the Red Cross mission, whether sharing time or money, means that they will be there to respond immediately whenever the need arises.
5. Give blood. Become a regular and frequent blood donor to ensure a blood supply that meets all needs, all the time. It is critical that the Red Cross maintain at least a five- to seven-day blood supply. To do so, more Americans need to become first time and repeat donors. Only five percent of the eligible population donates blood. Having current donors donate more frequently is not sufficient to meet that need.
For any additional information, you may contact www.redcross.org or call 1.800.448.3543.
Kerry Barth is a student at West Chester University majoring in professional studies with minors in journalism and health sciences. She can be reached at KB358328@wcupa.edu.