Monday, February 8, 2016

In Case You Missed It - Feb 8


Red Cross Volunteers and Staff installing free smoke alarms in Staten Island. (Photo: Lori-Ann Pizzarelli)
Over the last 7 days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 40 adults and 18 children following 44 local disasters. Here are some highlights from last week and a preview of upcoming activities (see below).

Last Week in Review



Upcoming Events and Opportunities
  • Win a Deluxe Emergency Preparedness Kit by taking the online emergency preparedness training. You’ll be automatically entered to win. This contest is open to residents of New York City, Long Island, Orange, Sullivan, Rockland, Putnam and Westchester Counties. Four winners will be chosen each month (notified via email).
  • Feb 8: Red Cross blood drive: 1 to 7pm: 520 West 49th Street, Manhattan. Schedule an appointment to donate today.
  • Mar 5: The #GetAlarmedNYC campaign to help save lives by installing free smoke alarms in the community will make its way to Bed-Stuy (Brooklyn) next month. Volunteer or sign up for a free smoke alarm installation at www.redcross.org/GetAlarmedNYC.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Remembering Valhalla: One Year Later

By Peter Belfiore, American Red Cross

One year ago today, the community of Valhalla, N.Y. was forever changed when a Metro North commuter train derailed, caught fire and took six lives. On this painful anniversary, we remember those who were tragically lost that night and we also recognize those everyday heroes who stepped up during unthinkable circumstances to minimize the effects of this tragedy.     

At our Honoring Our Heroes Gala in October, we recognized three of these individuals—James Wallace, Michael Wolfert and Riley Dejong—who performed extraordinary acts after the derailment.



Dejong was not in the country at the time of the Gala so we were delighted to present her with her medal as we approached the one-year anniversary. 

Metro NY North Red Cross CEO Mary Young (R)
presents Riley Dejong with her medal.
The Red Cross was also on the scene that night, providing comfort to shaken passengers, as well as warm food and drink to emergency first responders who worked throughout the night in extreme cold conditions. Learn more about the Red Cross response.


Monday, February 1, 2016

In Case You Missed It - Feb 1


Over the last 7 days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 87 adults and 15 children following 43 local disasters. Here are some highlights from last week and a preview of upcoming activities (see below).

Last Week in Review
Upcoming Events and Opportunities
  • Feb 3, 5, 8: Red Cross blood drive; 1 to 7pm; 520 West 49th Street, Manhattan. Schedule an appointment to donate today.
  • Feb 6: The #GetAlarmedNYC campaign to help save lives by installing free smoke alarms in the community will make its way to West Brighton, Port Richmond and Randall Manor (Staten Island) next month. Volunteer or sign up for a free smoke alarm installation at www.redcross.org/GetAlarmedNYC.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Responding to Jonas

The Greater New York Headquarters “Put to the Test”

By Stan Frank, American Red Cross

When the National Weather Service predicts a serious blizzard, the Red Cross mobilizes for wind damage, loss of power, flooding, home fires and the possibility of a large number of displaced residents.

Here’s a snapshot of how the Greater New York Region prepared in advance of Winter Storm Jonas and managed the effects of this historic weather event. (Thank you to Ronnie Rigos, Joe Spaccarelli, Liz Barker and Jessica Kirk for the photos.)
The Red Cross Emergency Operations Center was activated.
Red Cross volunteers and employees met continually to discuss plans and strategy.
Emergency relief supplies, including comfort kits, flood supplies
and blankets were mobilized for distribution.
Red Cross vehicles with plows were prepared for snow
removal in and around Red Cross locations.

Volunteer responder Tashi Penjor and his Red Cross colleagues helped displaced residents on Saturday morning at a multiple-alarm fire in Queens in the middle of the blizzard.
The massive 4-alarm fire on 9th Ave. displaced several families
who were comforted by the Red Cross.
Following 4-alarm fire on 9th Ave., a Red Cross Emergency Response
\Vehicle was dispatched to assist affected residents and first responders.
Long Island Red Cross Board Member and Public Affairs volunteer Craig Cooper shared
vital preparedness and safety information with the media.
In between fires and other incidents, Red Cross volunteers helped
dig out fire hydrants buried under the snow near the Hell's Kitchen HQ.

















































Tuesday, January 26, 2016

In Case You Missed It - Jan 25

Red Cross Volunteer Tashi P. responding to disasters during the Blizzard of 2016.
Over the last 7 days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 101 adults and 28 children following 39 local disasters. Here are some highlights from last week and a preview of upcoming activities (see below).

Last Week in Review

Upcoming Events and Opportunities
  • Jan 27, 29: Red Cross blood drive; 1 to 7pm; 520 West 49th Street, Manhattan. Schedule an appointment to donate today.
  • Jan 30: ABC7’s Bill Ritter will be hosting the station’s annual Operation 7 Save-a-Life campaign program at 7pm. Tune in to see the Red Cross Home Fire Preparedness Campaign featured.
  • Feb 6: The #GetAlarmedNYC campaign to help save lives by installing free smoke alarms in the community will make its way to West Brighton, Port Richmond and Randall Manor (Staten Island) next month. Volunteer or sign up for a free smoke alarm installation at www.redcross.org/GetAlarmedNYC.

The Emergency Communications Center

The Red Cross Information and Response HUB

by Stan Frank, American Red Cross

Every day the Greater NY Red Cross Emergency Communications Center (ECC) located on the second floor in an unassuming 4-story building on West 49th Street, a few blocks from midtown Manhattan, performs some of the most important functions needed to shelter, feed and provide emotional support to victims of disasters.

Via state-of-the-art communication systems, ECC reps monitor 24/7, 365 days a year.
The ECC serves the Greater New York Region, an area with a population in excess of 12.9 million residents. In addition to the eight million people in New York City’s five boroughs, the Center serves the Metro New York North area (1.8 million people) in Greenwich Conn., West Point, Orange, Putnam and Westchester Counties; and serves 2.8 million people in Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. The Center also responds to calls for assistance from more than two dozen cities and towns in the Eastern New York State Region with an additional population of 2.5 million residents.

Chris Mercado, a ten-year veteran of the Red Cross, manages the ECC.

“The Center is the source of all information and the starting point for all response activity for the Red Cross in Greater New York,” he says. 

Chris Mercado, a 10-year Red Cross veteran, manages the ECC.
Chris staffs the Center with highly-trained and dedicated employees and volunteers. ECC representatives maintain 8-hour shifts around the clock at the Center.

The Center is outfitted with the latest, state-of-the-art audiovisual and IT systems and helps coordinate the Red Cross response in Greater NY to 7 to 10 disasters every day, including home fires, floods, water main breaks, building collapses, severe weather events and other emergencies. On 9/11, the Center (at the time located in their previous HQ near Lincoln Center) was among the first to send responders to the terrorist attack at the World Trade Center. The ECC has back-up communication systems. If electrical power is lost, a self-sustaining power generator can maintain power for 48 hours. The Center can also activate satellite phones if necessary; and if cellular power is lost, the Center has its own FCC-licensed ham radio station to communicate with field operations.

In large-scale emergencies, the Ham Radio Station 
can communicate with field operations.
One or two ECC representatives are on duty at all times, surrounded by an array of TV screens, computer monitors, telephones and fire scanners. The TV screens are always tuned in to local and national news stations to monitor for breaking news. One computer is used for incoming and outgoing Breaking News Network email messages; other computers are used by the reps on duty to draft detailed reports on every reported incident. The reports are sent 24/7 to senior Red Cross staff and include the current status of all incidents (e.g. the number of buildings and families affected), the current actions being taken by Red Cross staff (e.g. sheltering activities, plans for feeding and housing displaced people) and future Red Cross actions planned (e.g. future casework plans and longer-term feeding/sheltering plans).

The emergency scanners are small desk-top devices which link directly to the FDNY. If a fire occurs anywhere in the five boroughs, the reps on duty actually hear the Fire Department dispatcher report it to the local fire department and the Red Cross responders deploy accordingly. If the incident is a minor one such as a minor kitchen fire, the reps will wait for more information from the responding fire department team on the scene. If it is a more serious incident or if the Fire Department calls the ECC directly for assistance, the reps spring into action.

First, the ECC rep notifies the Disaster Relief teams located on the 2nd floor staging area to deploy to the emergency. Each team consists of one to three trained volunteers on call 24/7. They immediately procure the appropriate Red Cross vehicle or vehicles located in the basement garage and drive to the scene of the emergency. 

Tiara Youmans, Red Cross Response Manager, with volunteer responders 
(Phil Cogan, Jason Lee, Odelia Lee and Ashley Barrueco) ready to respond to emergency calls.
The type of vehicle selected will depend on the nature of the emergency. Small vans are equipped with comfort kits, clean-up kits, personal hygiene kits, blankets, clothing, snacks and water. For more serious emergencies such as multiple-alarm fires or large-scale flooding, the Disaster Relief teams will use larger vehicles such as ERVs (Emergency Response Vehicles) which are outfitted with larger quantities of emergency supplies as well as emergency generators. The ERVs are equipped not only to assist disaster victims but also first responders who often remain on site for extended periods of time. If needed, a highly-sophisticated Red Cross Field Communications Vehicle is sent out to assist operations and maintain communications with emergency personnel.

ERVs and other Red Cross emergency vehicles are at the ready at all times.
Red Cross vehicles are stocked with a variety of relief supplies.
In all cases, the ECC representative coordinates the activities of the Disaster Relief teams and keeps Red Cross leadership aware of the field activities as they develop. In many instances, the heads of Logistics, Mass Care, Health, Mental Health, Staffing and Operations Management will go to the scene of the emergency to assist with relief operations. 

Kerenine LeVeque and Emma Tomias-Soto on duty in the ECC.
In addition to monitoring and responding to emergency calls, the ECC reps are also kept busy with calls for information or assistance from numerous NYC agencies such as the NYC Office of Emergency Management (OEM), the NYC Housing Preservation and Development Department (HPD), the New York Department of Buildings (DOB) and other NYC agencies and community partners seeking Red Cross assistance. Approximately 100 other non-emergency calls are received daily from the general public for information or help on everything from blood donations, to sheltering questions, to transportation questions. In the event of high call volume, additional volunteers are brought in to staff the ECC.

Asked what she likes most about her job as an Emergency Communications Rep, Karenine LeVeque, who joined the Red Cross after being motivated by the Red Cross’ work in Haiti during and after the devastating earthquake there in 2010, said:

”To me, there is nothing more fulfilling than helping someone in need when they have gone through a disaster and lost all hope. As an ECC rep, I feel fulfilled every day knowing I have helped someone in trouble and brought a ray of hope into their lives.”


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

9 Tips to Keep Your Pets Warm and Safe This Winter

Winter Weather #PetParedness

After a of balmy month of December that saw many New Yorkers turn on their AC more often than their heat, the reality of winter in NYC is finally upon us!

While it's critical for us to keep ourselves safe amid arctic temperatures and blizzards let's not forget about the brutal impact that severe weather can have on our four-legged friends.

So what can you do to protect and prepare your pets during the winter? Here are a few simple tips to keep them safe:

1. Bring your pets inside! It’s cold out there, and what’s bad for us is also bad for man’s best friend.

2. Be careful around space heaters! Space heaters pose many risks. Not only can they burn your pet, your pet can also knock them over and start a fire.

3. Be mindful of the paws! Salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate a pet’s paws. Wipe their paws with a damp towel before your pet licks them and irritates their mouth.

4. If pets cannot come indoors, keep them warm  in a dry, draft-free space large enough to allow them to sit and lie down, but small enough to keep them warm.



5. Dress your dog in style for winter weather and make sure they are wearing a collar or ID tag with their name and your cell phone number.

6. These days, there’s an app for everything, including keeping your dog safe. Download the Red Cross Pet First Aid app for iOS and Android smartphones
7. Love may be the best medicine, but if your doggy gets meds from the vet, be sure to keep some in supply in case you get snowed in this winter.

8. Be ready by keeping a preparedness kit for your pets all year long. It should include food, water, and any medications for your pets. A chew toy would also be a nice gesture.
9. And in case of an emergency evacuation, never leave your pet behind in the cold. Remember, if it’s not safe enough for you, it’s not safe enough for your pet. 

Thanks to our friends at Good Dog Therapy for sharing the photos! Check out the full series here
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