Disaster Training Institute Makes Triumphant Return

Red Cross disaster relief volunteers Nancy Young and Mike Hofmann work together during a training scenario during the 2012 Minnesota North Star Disaster Training Institute, Camp Ripley, Little Falls, MN. Photo credit: Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross

The Minnesota North Star Disaster Training Institute made a triumphant return in early October when around 150 volunteers from 9 states turned out for a chance to build their American Red Cross disaster response skills. Both rookie and veteran disaster relief workers attended. This was no surprise for Megan Mrozek who serves as Emergency Services Director for the American Red Cross Northern Minnesota Region. “The disaster institute is a great way to train,  network, and practice together.” Mrozek and five others were the key organizers of the training institute. Instructors included experienced disaster responders from across Minnesota and surrounding states.

Red Cross disaster relief volunteer Vonnie Thomas teaches the Psychological First Aid course during the 2012 Minnesota North Star Disaster Training Institute, Camp Ripley, Little Falls, MN. Photo credit: Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross

Long-time responder and instructor Vonnie Thomas faced dozens in a Psychological First Aid course. “Your impact is so important,” she told them. Several shared stories about their personal experiences working with families during disaster response. Sometimes the emotional trauma touches the responder. Vonnie reassured them saying, “It’s okay to cry with a client. I’ve said, I need a Kleenex, too.”

The Institute’s course roster was thorough, offering everything from conducting disaster assessment and learning how to drive a Red Cross mobile feeding truck to managing a shelter and collaborating for success when delivering Red Cross relief services. More than anything, said Mrozek, the training institute gave people a chance to sit next to others. “It helps when you recognize the faces of fellow relief workers when responding to disaster.”

Grant-funded, the current hope is to hold the North Star Training Institute every two years. Click here to learn more about Red Cross opportunities and services. Click here to see more photos from the training.

Story and photos by Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross

Big Turn Out for Red Cross “Save A Life Saturday”

Photos and story by Anne Florenzano, Red Cross Volunteer

Phyllis Skinner (l) and Kenny Jackson (r) practice how to treat wounds at a Save A Life Saturday CPR class in Minneapolis. Photo credit: Anne Florenzano/American Red Cross

Over a hundred and fifty people signed up to get free, hands-on CPR training at the Twin Cities, Minnesota Chapter of the American Red Cross on Saturday, March 19. They were participants in the national Red Cross “Save a Life Saturday” event held in honor of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

Just over a month ago, the events that unfolded in Arizona reminded the nation of the importance of being prepared in the event of an emergency. Many of the bystanders knew CPR and first aid and were able to save the lives of several victims, including Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who received help from her intern Daniel Hernandez.

Instructor Christen Asher reminds volunteers at a Save A Life Saturday CPR class to compress the chest 2 inches when doing CPR, and to keep an even rhythm. Photo credit: Anne Florenzano/American Red Cross

In honor of those lifesaving efforts, the Red Cross provided fast and easy classes in more than 100 locations across the country to teach the basics of hands-only CPR, the treatment of shock and how to treat wounds. The classes were shortened versions of Red Cross training courses, lasting approximately 45 minutes in sessions offered all day. The courses were offered free of charge through the generosity of sponsors Safeway and Walgreens.

Kenny Jackson and Phyllis Skinner were two participants who attended a morning session in Minneapolis, and are pictured here practicing how to treat wounds. Phyllis, a retired nurse, babysits her grandchildren a lot and wanted a refresher on CPR.

“It’s been a while,” says Phyllis, “and I want to feel confident if I ever need to use it.”

Kenny spends a lot of time at his lake place in the summer.

Instructor Tasha Nembhard goes over the basics of responding in an emergency situation with participants in a Save A Life Saturday CPR session. Photo credit: Anne Florenzano/American Red Cross

“I’m up at the lake every weekend I can from springtime on. I wanted some emergency training in case something happens. When I’m at the lake there often are not a lot of people around, and I want to be prepared,” says Kenny.

Regardless of the reason, many who attended Save-a-Life day in Minneapolis took will be better prepared if someone in an emergency needs help. If you could not make these introductory classes, click here to sign up for one of the many Health and Safety courses provided by the Twin Cities Red Cross. You can also click here to find video instruction on hands-only CPR, controlling external bleeding, and managing shock.

Red Cross shelter day three…working through the emotional stuff

by Andrea Bredow and Mark Smith, Twin Cities Red Cross Volunteers

When fire broke out on an early morning in Bloomington, Minnesota, a family of four found the only way to escape to safety was to break the second floor window, drop the oldest child out the window and then have her catch her two younger siblings. She caught one by the leg and the other around waist.  Not only is everything she owned now gone, she is also experiencing emotional reactions from an event no school aged girl should ever have to go through. The American Red Cross Disaster Stress Team steps in to help victims like this young girl work through the emotions from a traumatic life event.

On a sub-zero morning, people jumped out windows to escape this burning apartment building near Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo credit: Anne Florenzano/American Red Cross

Cay Shea Hellervik, a member of the disaster response stress team, is one of many volunteers at the Bloomington shelter helping the residents from the apartment fire get back on their feet.  As important as finding clothes, shelter and food after a tragic event so is dealing with the event its self and all the emotions that come with a major life tragedy. Cay says it is important to have someone around who wants to listen.

“It is important to talk through what they just experienced when it is still vivid,” says Cay.

When she first arrives at a shelter, Cay checks with the manager and other volunteers to get a general feel for who may need to talk to the stress team.

“I make sure I touch base with everyone, asking how they are doing, how they are feeling and get them to talk through the event, ” says Cay.

For many, a step in the healing process is getting back in their routine. One young girl in the shelter was concerned about missing school, the problem; she only had the pajamas full of soot from the fire. Cay realized returning to her regular schedule was important for the young girl. Cay and the pastor from the church where fire victims are staying found clothes the church had on hand. A phone call was made to the school district and with in 15 minutes the young girl was dressed and ready for the yellow school bus that arrived at the shelter. Cay noticed a tear run down the girls face as she stepped on the bus as she return to her “normal” schedule.

Play time with a Red Cross volunteer helps children heal after a traumatic fire disaster near Minneapolis, Minnesota, which displaced more than 30 people. Photo credit: Cathryn Kennedy/American Red Cross

Along with her professional background in psychology, Cay credits the training the Red Cross provides.

“Red Cross training is so important and prepares you so well for events like this,” says Cay.

All members of the stress team are all trained degreed professionals, but Cay challenges this community to “join the Red Cross regardless of your training, find out what your roll could be and use the great knowledge and training of the Red Cross to contribute to the community.”

For more information about volunteer opportunities, please visit redcrosstc.org.

Practice Makes Prepared for Red Cross NAT Students

Our Nurse Assistant Training students are buzzing around the American Red Cross Twin Cities Area Chapter these days demonstrating their skills before clinical practice. There’s a ton-o-stuff they need to have down so that their future patients will be well cared for!Click here to learn more about our Nurse Assistant Training (NAT) program and the upcoming class schedule.

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