National Nurses Week: Dan Luthi uses compassionate approach to assist in disaster relief

Dan Luthi, BSN, RN is a volunteer for the American Red Cross of Central Illinois Chapter in the Illinois Region. He serves several critical Red Cross functions to deliver vital services, providing relief and support to those in crisis.

Luthi is a Regional Disaster Action Team Coordinator and dispatch officer who takes both daytime and nighttime shifts. He calls down volunteer teams for disaster response to families and individuals, often for home fires at all times of day and night. He also serves as a responder himself, using his nursing skills as he visits with disaster clients needing health services. In this fiscal year alone, he has responded to 21 disasters. Out of 501 open response cases, Luthi helped on 167 of them. During 2019, he answered 20% of all disaster calls.

Individuals and families are in dire need of care, resources and support during and after these devastating events. Families end up displaced from their homes as a result of these disasters. The Red Cross provides immediate care and support, and with Dan Luthi’s leadership, we are able to carry out our mission with utmost compassion and excellence. His leadership is also a forced multiplier as he trains additional volunteers in response roles that serve all 78 counties within our region.

Luthi has been a Red Cross volunteer since 2013; he is one of the region’s most dedicated volunteers, frequently putting in 20+ hours per week volunteering while still working full time as a pediatric nurse and continuing his education. Since the beginning of 2020 alone, he has already served almost 250 hours of volunteering for the Red Cross.

Dan Luthi started his volunteer career with the Red Cross during a tornado that struck Washington, IL in 2013, assisting in the shelter that was opened.

At the time he was quoted saying, “I’m here because I’m interested in helping my local community. It’s important for me to see that neighbors are taken care of and that they get what they need, whether it is medication or a hug.”

From that point onward, Luthi has dedicated his time, incredible service and talents to serving those in need in his community. But his community has broadened through service to all 78 counties in the region as well as support for volunteers who deploy nationally.

Luthi also acts as a mentor and teacher to Red Cross staff and volunteers. His style of sharing information and knowledge is thorough, contextual and kind.

More recently, Luthi responded to a fire that occurred in a trailer park in Goodfield, IL. Five individuals perished in the fire, including three small children. He responded to the incident with much compassion and worked with the surviving clients for several days to ensure all their health services needs were met. The following month, the trailer park manager requested that the Red Cross come out to be sure that everyone in the park had working smoke alarms. This was an important step to the community’s healing. With Luthi’s ability to be compassionate, professional and thorough, he was the ideal person to send on this important mission. He led a group of Red Cross volunteers who went into the community and installed free smoke alarms.

Dan Luthi was nominated for a Governor’s Award for his service, which he truly deserves, as proven by his extraordinary record of compassionate volunteer services to the people in need in his community and beyond.

During COVID-19, our mission hasn’t changed, but the way we carry out services looks different. Dan is part of that continued effort, serving as the Southern District’s Response Lead. He oversees the responses for COVID-19. He makes sure the team is following protocol by wearing masks, while also preparing exercises to be done. His additional support for Health Services is also valued.

We are always looking for hardworking volunteers to fulfill our mission at the Red Cross. If you’re interested, visit redcross.org/volunteer.

Written by Kendra Henson, Regional Volunteer Services Officer Sondra Hayes, Regional Direct Services Program Manager Katelyn Trunnell, Individual & Community Preparedness Manager

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