Learning how to save a life

Learning how to save a life

One of the best things you can do to prepare yourself for an emergency is to get CPR certified. As a Red Cross intern, I could see different classes being set up and knew that this was definitely an opportunity I should take advantage of.  My high school had required me to get certified as a freshman, but that was almost eight years ago, and my current medical understanding was largely based on fictional medical TV shows like Grey’s Anatomy. I realized that was far from sufficient and began to worry that I would find myself in a life or death situation with no idea what to actually do. So, after looking through the available classes, I signed up for the Adult and Pediatric First Aid/CPR/AED class at the Red Cross’ 2200 W Harrison location.


The class was scheduled for a cold Tuesday morning in March. When I got there, I found a classroom with around a dozen people from a variety of professions and backgrounds, paper packets, and a DePaul grad student named Kelly as my instructor. Over the next five and a half hours the class covered how to respond to a wide variety of different medical emergencies. With so much information in one day I was a little worried about getting overwhelmed and retaining everything. However, that was not the case at all. The combination of instructional videos, interactive exercises and practice on CPR dummies made everything easily digestible and memorable.

I cannot recommend taking the CPR/AED training enough. In just a few hours, you’ll learn how to react to emergencies ranging from a sprained ankle to cardiac arrest. I left the class with a newfound confidence and sense of preparedness. Signing up takes five minutes or less. Just go to www.redcross.org/courses to find the class and location that best suits you. You never know when you’ll be the person others look to in an emergency. You could be the one to step up and save a life.

Written by Hannah Nicholson, Communications & Marketing intern for the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois

Giving Back like Clara Barton

Giving Back like Clara Barton

It’s not until you give yourself up, that you truly give.

Over the past six years, this little but powerful phrase has been engrained not only into my brain, but also into my heart. For a child, overnight camp is a chance to pull all-nighters and eat as many s’mores as possible. For me, overnight camp was a chance to spend my summers feeling completely normal, laughing about things that would usually make me cry, and eventually, giving back to the place has given me so much. For five summers, I left my small Chicago suburb and headed to North Oxford, Massachusetts to attend, and later work at, Clara Barton Camp. The camp gave me so much; a home away from home, some of my very best friends, and, most importantly, it taught me the importance of giving.

Founded by and named after Clara Barton, much of the camp centers around her life and legacy as the founder of the American Red Cross. The camp’s location in New Oxford is actually where Clara Barton was born and raised. The barn she visited daily is where we host our annual summer talent shows, her classic white home was transformed into a place where campers can buy postcards and camp apparel, and her pond is one of the best places for an afternoon camp swim. Clara Barton is the “it girl” at our camp, her dedication to others is what we, both counselors and campers, strive for. When I was hired back as a counselor at the camp, I went to my closest American Red Cross on West Harrison Street to get CPR/First Aid certified. I can vividly recall looking at the walls in the building and seeing photos of Clara Barton. It was the same Clara Barton that was on my camp key chain I had purchased the summer before with my cabin mates. Seeing her photo allowed me take a step back and realize not only how much I appreciate Clara Barton Camp, but also how impactful Clara Barton was as the founder of the American Red Cross, a truly spectacular organization.

At the end of every camp session, the entire camp comes together to read “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein. The book ends with the little boy, who is now an old man, returning to the tree. The tree explains that he has nothing left to give the boy because he already gave the boy everything he had. The boy explains that all he wants is a place to sit, and the tree, which is now a wooden stump, gives him just that; “and the tree was happy.” The tree did not simply give; he made giving his mission. At Clara Barton Camp we follow that giving mission, the same mission of the American Red Cross.

VIDEO: https://youtu.be/ZuQoUjuZJsc



Written by: Aubrey Woolford




Making a splash with the World’s Largest Swim Lesson

Making a splash with the World’s Largest Swim Lesson

The Red Cross is proud to have partnered with the Chicago Park District to help thousands of kids and families be a part of the World’s Largest Swim Lesson. on June 22, 2017. It’s part of a global initiative to spread awareness about the importance of teaching children to swim to prevent drowning.

This was the eighth year of the event, and the Chicago Park District invited families to take the lesson at 76 pools across the city.

A class of swimmers in Norwood took to the water yesterday, joining the thousands of other swimmers around the world.

Research shows risk of drowning can be reduced by 88 percent if children participate in formal swimming lessons between the ages of 1-4. Yet, a survey conducted by the American Red Cross in 2014 found that more than half of Americans (54 percent) either can’t swim or don’t have all of the basic swimming skills.
Whole Class WLSL 2017 NorwoodLifeguard and boy WLSL 2017 NorwoodKicking WLSL 2017 Norwood
Swimming lessons for Chicago kids and families are still available this summer. The Red Cross offers Life guarding training classes as well as swimming and water safety.

World’s Largest Pillowcase Project Teaches Chicago Children Preparedness Skills

20824159040_bc91d13214_o(CHICAGO, IL) – When Hurricane Katrina made landfall 10 years ago, no one was prepared for the immense destruction and devastation it would inflict upon the Gulf Coast.

Many children were traumatized by their memories of the storm’s fury so the American Red Cross developed a program using something as simple as a pillowcase to help children feel safer and more prepared for a disaster.

21012145605_53a1db1594_oOn the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina Aug. 29, 2015, the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois participated in the World’s Largest Pillowcase of youth preparedness activities taking place across the county. In Chicago, kids gathered at the Robert Morris University where they learned how to prepare for a disaster and received art supplies to personalize their own pillowcase.

Eight-year-old Beatrice decorated her pillowcase with pictures of her family and favorite household items.

“I liked coming today because I learned a lot of important things,” Beatrice said. “Now I know not to put my hand on a door knob if there’s a fire because I might get burned. I need to open the door slowly so I can be safe.”

The Pillowcase Project was inspired by university students in New Orleans who evacuated the storm by carrying their personal items in pillowcase. Soon after, the Pillowcase Project became a youth preparedness class offered around the country by 20391260033_1191f8e0d6_othe Red Cross and sponsored by Disney.

In the last ten years, the Pillowcase Project has helped thousands of children learn to cope during emergencies from hurricanes to home fires. For more information on the Pillowcase Project:  RedCross.org.

For more photos of the World’s Largest Pillowcase event in Chicago visit our Flickr page. 

Story by Alexandra Sobczak, Public Affairs Volunteer, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois 

Photos by Danny Diaz, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois Volunteer  

Nanny Saves a Life With Infant CPR: “Training Turns Helplessness Into a Fighting Chance”

Health and Safety Stock ImagesLynn Lindquist took a pediatric first aid class so she could be a good nanny to six-month-old Jack.

One day Jack was feeding himself pieces of watermelon when he began choking. Lynn allowed Jack to cough at first, but when his breathing became labored she snatched him from the high chair, and turned him over to start the back blow maneuver she learned from her American Red Cross instructor. The piece dislodged and Lynn was relieved to hear Jack cry. A few calming breaths and many hugs later, Jack was happy and giggling again.

“The steps drilled by our instructor, Ed, kicked in when I needed them,” said Lynn. “Red Cross CPR training turns helplessness into a fighting chance. You need to be able to do the best you can for children.”

Lynn is one of many child care providers who have completed a Red Cross class in the Chicago region who would agree infant first aid is a vital skill to know. Even with constant supervision, babies can choke on food or a small toy. They can slip under water in a bathtub or a shallow pool. Infant CPR training ensures you’re prepared, like Lynn was for baby Jack.

“The thing about learning CPR skills from the Red Cross is that it prepares you to act without over thinking it,” she said. “It’ll give you courage to act when you might not have the confidence to help someone in need.”

CPR uses chest compressions and rescue breaths so oxygen-rich blood circulates through the brain and other vital organs until emergency medical personnel arrive.

Lynn encourages everyone to take a Red Cross CPR class to be prepared to help save a life of any age. The American Red Cross of Greater Chicago offers a variety of First Aid/CPR/AED courses and safety tips. Visit http://www.chicagoredcross.org/ for more information.

Written by: Amisha Sud, American Red Cross Public Affairs Volunteer

ComEd Employee Saves a Life with CPR: “You never know when, where and why you might need it”

IMG_2068.JPGCarlos Guevara, an Account Manager at ComEd, was enjoying a peaceful Sunday morning at his church when a fellow member suddenly collapsed outside.

Panic filled the place and people rushed to Eugene Parker, who fell to the ground. They tried to make him comfortable, but many didn’t know what else they could do to help Eugene.

But Carlos did. He knew CPR. Without hesitation, Carlos was at the Eugene’s side and took control.

Carlos worked for the Chicago Parks District 25 years ago where he first participated in CPR trainings. He interacted with many seniors and children and wanted to ensure his staff knew the basics of first aid in case of emergencies. Years later at ComEd, Carlos took the course again. His company offered it for employees through the American Red Cross where he was able to brush up on basic skills and learn some new techniques.

It’s a good thing he did. At the church, Carlos stepped in to comfort Eugene. Then Eugene stopped breathing and his eyes rolled back into his head. Carlos started CPR. He provided three chest compressions and three rescue breaths. He continued to assure Eugene he would be ok and stayed by his side until the wailing sirens signaled the arrival of the ambulance. Carlos briefed paramedics about the first aid he provided and stepped back to let them work.

“My hands were trembling when I walked back in the church and people started patting my back and saying, ‘You saved his life, you saved his life!’” Carlos said.

Carlos received a call later from Eugene’s father-in-law who said Eugene was recovering, and if it wasn’t been for Carlos’s quick action and knowledge of CPR, his son-in-law might not have survived. Eugene had so much to live for, the father-in-law told Carlos, who just married his daughter a week before the incident. Eugene’s family was grateful Carlos was there to help.

As a community partner of the Red Cross, ComEd offers CPR and First Aid education at no cost to staff. The Red Cross helps Chicago area residents prepare for emergencies at home and in the workplace through health and safety classes including First Aid, CPR and more. The Red Cross also provides certifications to organizations and companies like ComEd to equip their employees with the expertise to respond in a variety of first aid and cardiac situations until advanced medical personnel arrive.

Carlos, who has a four-month-old grandson, tells his co-workers, church members and others the importance of both pediatric and adult First Aid and CPR. He hopes his story inspires others to learn these lifesaving skills.

“Never be afraid to help somebody,” Carlos said. “Learn the basics of CPR and where you can apply it. You never know when, where and why you might need it.”

Written by Amisha Sud, American Red Cross Public Affairs Volunteer

Being Prepared 221 Miles Offshore

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMany types of emergencies can occur on an offshore oil rig, which is why Dan Workman’s employer requires him to be CPR and First Aid certified.

Dan works on a rig in the Gulf of Mexico located 221 miles offshore. For the past four years he has commuted from Palos Hills, Illinois to Texas to work three-week shifts on the rig. Dan has been re-certified several times now and says the training has definitely proved useful.

“When my co-workers get minor cuts and can’t help themselves, I bandage them up,” he said.

Dan has also witnessed more severe injuries. During one of his shifts, a fallen crane crushed a coworker’s pelvis and injured his leg. There’s a medic onboard to respond to emergency situations, but ensuring every worker is trained and prepared is vital. Dan has also been involved with the Red Cross blood services for many years by donating blood while in school and deployed in the military.

As a regular blood donor and knowing how to perform First Aid, Dan is prepared to save lives.

Story and photo by Kamryn McPike

Are You Prepared for Lollapalooza? – Get a “Concert Kit”

In 2012, Lollapalooza was rocked by a severe storm that caused a mass evacuation and a two-hour delay in performances, leading patrons to flee to local stores on Michigan Avenue and underground.

The 2010 festival saw rain as well, as concert-goers slid down muddy hills and frolicked on the flooded grounds.  Besides heavy rain, August is marked as the hottest month of the year in Chicago with an average temperature of 82 degrees, causing many to suffer from dehydration and heat stroke.

In addition to weather, injuries occur during the concert steming from rowdy fans mosh-pitting generally during heavier rock performances that can leave guests bruised and battered in need of medical attention. The venue houses many medical stations in Grant Park that are easily accessible and the staff on hand is trained to handle any emergency.

Beginning in 2013, Lollapalooza officials now allow two sealed, one liter bottles of water for each guest to combat the inevitable heat.

Be Prepared – Get a “Concert Kit”

If you are thinking of attending this year’s three-day event, the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago recommends a “concert kit” designed to prepare for any and all potential injuries or weather. Here is what we recommend:

  • Water – Excessive heat is likely in the midst of the summer and dehydration causes fatigue and heat stroke.
  • Band-Aids – Besides the risk of sliding down a muddy hill, most fans wear sandals and are at risk of cuts.
  • Plastic sandwich bag – While not everyone can afford a water-proof cell phone case, a plastic bag can still save your phone on rainy days. Cells phones are generally everyone’s main line of communication, and a water-logged phone puts you at risk in times of emergency.
  • Poncho – The best raincoat in crowded areas and inexpensive.
  • Portable Cell Phone Battery – If your phone dies you have no means of communication, one of these can mean the difference between your friends knowing where you are or not.
  • Sun Screen – Most outdoor concerts are during the summer when the sun is the most powerful and sun screen will allow guests to make it all three days without painful burns.

Lolla KitWhile there are many items one can pack before heading to the shows, these are just a few recommendations based on the conditions seen in the past.

First Aid App by the Red Cross

Before attending Lollapalooza, take a minute to download the Red Cross First Aid App.

The app is a database of treatments accessible to anyone with an android or apple phone free of charge.  The app illustrates treatments from burns and heat stroke, to bleeding and broken bones. In addition, using your phone’s GPS, the app can find the closest hospital, so no searching is necessary in times of an emergency.

Lastly, and possibly most importantly, the application does not require a network connection to access all the information.  During large sporting events and concerts, data connections tend to fail due to cellular network congestion and with all the treatments built into the app, the internet is not necessary for it to be functional.

You’re ready to go! You have your concert kit in tow with your Red Cross First Aid App installed, prepared to enjoy days of amazing performances.  Being prepared for an outdoor event like Lollapalooza can be the difference between an unforgettable weekend of fun, and a weekend drenched and phoneless.  Be Red Cross Ready and have a great time.

To download the Red Cross First Aid App, click the bandage below

First Aid




Story and photo by Michael Roeder

Babysitter Training Becoming Popular Among Boys

Ryan Broderick, age 11

Ryan Broderick, age 11

Eleven-year-old Ryan Broderick stood out from the other students at the Red Cross Babysitters Training class for several reasons. The most obvious being that he was the only boy in the class.

While traditionally viewed as a female’s job, babysitting is becoming more popular among males. The trend has caused the America Red Cross to update the class materials with more images of male babysitters. While older generations might be a bit surprised to see an 11-year-old boy interested in babysitting, not one of the kids in the class seemed nonplussed by his presence.

What made Ryan stand out more than his gender was the ease and enthusiasm he showed during the class. Ryan contributed often and meaningfully and when asked why he wanted to babysit he simply stated that he loves younger kids.

Ryan requested to take the class because there are a lot of young kids (ages 2 – 6) in his neighborhood. He is open to babysitting boys and girls but thinks families with young, athletic boys will be more likely to hire him. Ryan is involved in many sports in school, which is often a desired quality that causes parents to seek male babysitters.

Aside from getting to hang out with kids and show responsibility, Ryan and his classmates are looking forward to earning some extra cash. Nice work, Ryan!

Story and Photo by Kamryn McPike

Bridging the Path to Preparedness in Ecuador

VeronicaPreparedness.  I talk about it often as part of my job.  I share tips and helpful information about how to better prepare, and often wonder if people actually feel confident about what to do in case of an emergency.  But I am now content to know that in South America, specifically Ecuador, families and communities know exactly what to do in case of an emergency.

I was fortunate to travel with another staff member from the Red Cross International Communications team to Ecuador in late March where we visited coastal areas, since earthquakes and tsunamis are big threats there. The American Red Cross, in partnership with USAID, funds preparedness programs to teach communities everything from first aid, and lifeguarding skills to disaster preparedness.  We also visited a few rural communities where flooding is their big threat, and I was in awe at how prepared everyone was.  Ever since these programs were implemented, the culture among the community has become all about preparedness.

We spoke to community residents who were so proud of the skills they had learned from the Red Cross.  I was particularly impressed when we visited a school in Manglaralto named Escuela Alfredo Sanz Rivera.  The kids were on vacation, but came to the school to greet us and show us everything they had learned through the program.  I was in awe as these kids, who were not much older than 12 years old, knew so much about first aid, how to use an extinguisher and how to carry a patient on a stretcher.  They told us how they had already put their skills to good use by helping out their siblings when one of them was burned.  I have a 15-year-old son and am sure his first instinct would be to use Google.

photoSome of the areas we visited had to great creative with their evacuation plans. The town of Briceño de Afuera is a small community outside of Guayaquil. People were excited that we had come to visit. They were eager to share their evacuation plans with us. This town is prone to flooding, but not from rain, rather from the nearby bodies of water that rises.

There is only one convenience store for the whole community and you must cross a bamboo bridge to get to the store. There were several of these bamboo bridges which looked like they could fall apart at any given moment. I actually had to cross one of the bamboo bridges and was scared to death.  The water below me looked muddy and dirty. But it helped me to think about the people that I had just met, that lived there and how it was their way of life.

They showed us the community evacuation plan they had created with the help of the Red Cross.  A member of the community had drawn the map and plan by hand. They went through every detail and were proud of the plan they had created. They demonstrated to us how they use a homemade firecracker to announce to the town that there is an evacuation. Yes, a firecracker!  It looked like a bottle rocket that I use to light up when I was a kid. It apparently works well as an early warning system for community members. The whole town attested to the fact that they knew exactly what to do when they heard the loud pop.

We are so fortunate to live in a country where we have so many resources and help at our fingertips.  However, it is extremely humbling to know that we, at the Red Cross are helping in other parts of the world.  Communities are being resourceful however they can.  I’ve never been more confident about the importance of teaching preparedness.  Because even if we think we know it all, our mission is still helping others, somewhere in the world in getting better prepared.

Written by Veronica Vasquez, a member of the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago, who traveled to Ecuador in late March 2014.