The American Red Cross is pleased to announce that Bryce Goff has been named Executive Director for of the American Red Cross Serving South Central Illinois.
The South-Central Illinois Chapter serves more than 1.1 million residents in a 43-county area—providing vital services including disaster relief, health and safety classes, blood collection and assistance to military members and their families. The South Central Chapter is one of three chapters in the American Red Cross Central and Southern Illinois Region.
Goff previously served as Volunteer Services Officer for the American Red Cross Central and Southern Illinois Region. In his new role, as executive director, Goff will work closely with the Red Cross Board of Directors, community leaders, more than 560 volunteers and the local and regional staff to enhance Red Cross service delivery and strengthen the volunteer and donor base in the South Central Chapter.
“As we conducted a search for a new executive director for the South Central Chapter— Bryce Goff was a clear choice,” said Lyn Hruska. “He is an emerging nonprofit leader with an extraordinary ability to build strong relationships across corporate, government and non-profit sections. Bryce’s thoughtful and inclusive leadership style, strong commitment to Red Cross values and principles, and a desire to empower others will lead to innovation and growth for the Red Cross in the South Central Chapter.”
Prior to joining the Red Cross, Goff worked in education and healthcare, including serving as Strategic Communications Manager for an international school based in Hong Kong. Goff and his family spent three years in Hong Kong immersed in the culture. This international experience helped nurture Goff’s desire for diversity and inclusiveness, which he brings to the workplace. He previously served in a leadership role as the Director of Recovery and Resilience with the Illinois Mental Health Collaborative based in Springfield.
Goff enjoys family time with his wife and their three children and his hobbies include fishing, kayaking and playing guitar.
The first official blast of wintry weather is in the forecast for later this week and now is the perfect time to review winter preparedness tips to help you and your family stay safe throughout this winter season.
WEATHER ALERTS AND FIRST AID TIPS
People can download the Red Cross Emergency App for instant access to winter storm tips and weather alerts for their area and where loved-ones live. Expert medical guidance and a hospital locator are included in the First Aid App in case travelers encounter any mishaps. Both apps are available to download for free in app stores or at redcross.org/apps
HOME HEATING SAFETY Have furnaces, chimneys, fireplaces, wood and coal stoves inspected and cleaned before another winter of use. Test batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Other good steps to take to get one’s home ready for winter include:
Make sure flashlights are available throughout the house and they have fresh batteries. Winter storms can lead to power outages.
Insulate the home by installing storm windows or covering the inside of windows with plastic to keep frigid air out.
Develop a fire escape plan and practice it with everyone who lives in the home.
Prepare a disaster supply kit to have ready should winter storms hit. The kit should include a three-day supply of food and water per person, flashlight, battery-powered or hand-crank radio and extra batteries. Other things to have on hand for the winter include:
Sand, rock salt or kitty litter to make walkways and steps less slippery
Warm coats, gloves or mittens, hats, boots and warm clothing for all household members, along with extra blankets.
Winterize your vehicle.
Consider buying emergency heating equipment, such as a wood- or coal-burning stove or an electric or kerosene heater.
Nearly half of the households in this country use alternative heating sources such as space heaters, fireplaces, or wood/coal stoves to stay warm. Fixed and portable space heaters, including wood stoves, are involved in 74 percent of fire-related deaths.
If someone is using a space heater, the Red Cross recommends that people look for a model that shuts off automatically if the heater falls over. Space heaters should be placed on a level, hard and nonflammable surface in the home.
Other safety tips include:
Keep all potential sources of fuel like paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs at least three feet away from space heaters, stoves, or fireplaces.
Portable heaters and fireplaces should never be left unattended. Turn off space heaters and make sure any embers in the fireplace are extinguished before going to bed or leaving home.
Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
GET YOUR VEHICLE READY FOR WINTER
Plan ahead. Have a mechanic check your tires, battery, brakes and antifreeze levels. Make sure your vehicle is ready for winter with a window scraper, shovel, kitty litter or sand in case you get stuck, extra clothes and an Emergency Kit in your trunk. Pack high-protein snacks, water, first aid kit, flashlight, small battery-operated radio, an emergency contact card with names and phone numbers, extra prescription medications, blankets and important documents or information you may need.
DRIVING IN WINTER
While the Red Cross encourages you to stay off the road if possible, if you have to drive in snow or freezing rain, follow these tips about how to drive safely during a winter storm and what to do if you become stuck in your vehicle:
Fill the vehicle’s gas tank and clean the lights and windows to help you see.
Pay attention to the weather forecast. Before you leave, let someone know where you are going, the route you plan to take, and when you expect to get there. If your car gets stuck, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
If you have to drive, make sure everyone has their seat belts on and give your full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones.
Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. Sudden stops are difficult on snowy roadways.
Don’t use cruise control when driving in winter weather.
Don’t pass snow plows.
Know that ramps, bridges and overpasses will freeze before roadways.
If you become stuck in the snow or icy conditions:
Stay with the car. Do not try to walk to safety.
Tie a brightly colored cloth (preferably red) to the antenna for rescuers to see.
Don’t run your engine and heater constantly to help avoid running out of gas. Don’t use things like lights or the radio without the engine running so the battery doesn’t conk out.
If you can, move your vehicle off the roadway. Stay with it – don’t abandon it. If you have to get out of your vehicle, use the side away from traffic.
Start the car and use the heater for about 10 minutes every hour. Keep the exhaust pipe clear so fumes won’t back up in the car.
Leave the overhead light on when the engine is running to help rescuers see the vehicle.
Keep one window slightly open – away from the blowing wind – to let in air.
EMERGENCY KIT Being prepared means being equipped with the proper supplies you may need in the event of an emergency or disaster. Keep your supplies in an easy-to-carry kit or backpack that you can use at home or take with you in case you must evacuate.
At a minimum, you should have the basic supplies listed below:
Water: one gallon per person, per day (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
Food: non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home).
Battery-powered or hand-crank NOAA Weather Radio
First aid kit
Medication (7-day supply) and medical items
Sanitation and personal hygiene items
Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
Cell phone chargers
Family and emergency contact information
Family and emergency contact information
Consider the needs of all family members and add supplies to your kit. Suggested items to help meet additional needs are:
Medical supplies (hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, etc.)
Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, bowl)
Manual can opener
Extra set of car and house keys
Additional supplies to keep at home or in your survival kit based on the types of disasters common to your area:
Supplies for securing your home
Extra clothing, hat and study shoes or boots
WINTER PET CARE
Winter weather is difficult on our pets and the American Red Cross has steps people can follow to help ensure their pet’s safety over winter season.
Other tips pet owners should be aware of include:
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.
Antifreeze is a deadly poison. Wipe up spills and store antifreeze out of reach.
Signs of frostbite include discoloration of the frozen area, pale or even blue skin, no pain or lots of pain. The pads of the paws, tail and tips of the ears are most susceptible. If your pet has frostbite, bring them out of the cold immediately. Spray the affected area with warm water. Lightly apply a warm compress to the area. Do not rub or apply pressure. Take your pet to your veterinarian immediately.
If pet owners would like additional information, download the American Red Cross Pet First Aid App: The app provides dog and cat owners with resources on how to maintain their pet’s health and well-being and what to do during emergencies until veterinary care is available. Owners have access to step-by-step instructions, videos and images from more than 25 common first aid and emergency situations including what to do for cold-related emergencies.
Features in the app allow owners to:
Find emergency pet care facilities or alternate veterinarians if they are out of town with the animal hospital locator.
Locate pet-friendly hotels.
Test their knowledge with interactive quizzes and earn badges that they can share on their social networks. They can also attach their favorite picture of their pet when they share their badge.
The app is available to download for free in app stores, by going to redcross.org/apps or by texting ‘GETPET’ to 90999.
It’s that time of year when ghosts and goblins take to the streets for some Halloween fun. The celebration is growing more and more popular with everyone – kids to adults – and the American Red Cross has some safety tips people can follow to help stay safe this Halloween while enjoying the festivities.
SAFETY TIPS FOR TRICK-or-TREATERS
As parents get their kids ready for Halloween, here are some tips they should follow:
Use only flame-resistant costumes.
Plan the trick-or-treat route – make sure adults know where children are going. A parent or responsible adult should accompany young children as they make their way around the neighborhood.
Make sure trick-or-treaters can see, and be seen. Give them a flashlight to light their way. Add reflective tape to costumes and Trick-or-Treat bags. Have everyone wear light-colored clothing to be seen.
Instead of masks, which can cover the eyes and make it hard to see, use face paint instead.
Be cautious around animals, especially dogs.
Visit only the homes that have a porch light on. Accept treats at the door – never go inside.
Walk only on the sidewalks, not in the street. If no sidewalk is available, walk at the edge of the roadway, facing traffic. Look both ways before crossing the street, and cross only at the corner. Don’t cut across yards or use alleys. Don’t cross between parked cars.
Make sure a grown-up checks the goodies before eating. Remove loose candy, open packages and choking hazards. Discard any items with brand names that you are not familiar with.
TIPS FOR WELCOMING THE KIDS ON HALLOWEEN
If you are planning on welcoming trick-or-treaters to your home, follow these safety steps:
Sweep leaves from your sidewalks and steps.
Clear your porch or front yard of obstacles someone could trip over.
Restrain your pets.
Light the area well so the young visitors can see.
Use extra caution if driving. Youngsters are excited and may forget to look both ways before crossing.
DOWNLOAD RED CROSS APPS
Download the free Red Cross First Aid App for instant access to expert advice for everyday emergencies whenever and wherever they need it. Use the Emergency App for weather alerts and to let others know you are safe if severe weather occurs. The content in both apps is available in English and Spanish. Find these and all of the Red Cross apps in smartphone app stores by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ or by going to redcross.org/apps.
Kathy Yaste wanted to help those affected by the recent hurricanes, so she made the trip from Colchester to Moline for the Red Cross Just In Time training on Saturday, September 9. Kathy listened carefully to training instructors Gayle Lundeen and Paul Soebbing, so she would be prepared for what to expect, if she were to deploy to help with the hurricane relief efforts.
On September 14, just days after completing the training, Kathy was asked to go to Florida and work on a shelter team helping to provide a safe place to stay for residents displaced by Hurricane Irma. Kathy dug into her duties at the shelter and went to great lengths to provide care to special needs residents in the shelter to make their stay as comfortable as possible considering the circumstances.
Kathy’s story doesn’t end with her exemplary work in the shelter. Kathy and her Red Cross partner were traveling back to Jacksonville from a shelter across the state line in Georgia. Kathy, in the front passenger seat, was focused on the road as traffic was heavy on the divided four lane roadway. Just as she glanced across the four lanes of traffic, she witnessed a truck traveling in the wrong direction hit a vehicle head on – hitting the vehicle with such force that it spun the vehicle off the road. The truck sped off without stopping. Kathy asked her partner to stop their vehicle. Once stopped, Kathy risked her own life as she threaded her way across four lanes of heavy traffic to reach the accident scene. Kathy immediately called 9-1-1- and started stabilizing the 38-year-old woman, who had facial lacerations, broken ribs and the possibility of a spinal cord or neck injury from the severe impact. After a quick examination, Kathy knew she needed her first aid kit, which was back in her vehicle. Kathy made the dash back across four lanes of traffic and back again – this time with the first aid kit in hand.
Back at the scene of the accident, Kathy quickly removed a towel from her pack and placed it around the woman’s neck to provide some stabilization. Kathy also applied pressure to the lacerations and bandaged them as best as she could. As Kathy provided comfort and care to the woman, several road workers stopped and helped to direct traffic away from the accident. Kathy knew the importance of keeping the woman engaged in conversation until medical help arrived, so she asked the woman’s name, her age and also took a quick medical history. During this time, Kathy also learned that the young woman had lost everything in Hurricane Irma and what few possessions she had left were in her now crashed vehicle.
As soon as medical help arrived, Kathy approached the tow truck driver and police and asked if they could help to retrieve the woman’s possessions from her vehicle before it was towed from the scene. With her few personal possessions in the ambulance with her, the young woman was transported to the hospital for treatment.
With the woman was on her way to the hospital, Kathy and her co-worker resumed their trip back to the Jacksonville staff shelter. Upon arrival, Kathy’s heroic actions were quickly shared among the Red Cross workers in the staff shelter. Kathy has some health issues of her own, and it was decided as a precaution that she should be checked over at the local hospital. Kathy was released after a quick examination and again returned to the staff shelter.
Kathy was honored by the Red Cross for her heroic actions. She received a letter from the Deputy District Director highlighting her extraordinary service in the shelter and her heroic actions in helping the accident victim.
Kathy has returned home to Colchester. She is tired and somewhat overwhelmed by her experience. She comments that she has no idea how she was able to make the trip back and forth in heavy traffic since she has COPD and other health issues, but she says that she would do it again in a minute.
Kathy Yaste impacted many lives during her deployment and the Red Cross is grateful for dedication and her heroic actions.
Imagine yourself trying to get to sleep on a typical hot, humid July night in central Illinois, in a home that has no air conditioning, in a room with only a 20-inch box fan to help keep you from sticking to the sheets.
As you finally find yourself about to sink into that blissful state called sleep, you hear your 5-year-old son’s voice in your ear.
“Dad, you need to come upstairs, I think there’s something wrong with the fan in my room. It’s making a loud squealing sound.” Bleary-eyed and feeling more than a little bit grouchy, I get up wondering what my boy has done now, and what I would find stuck in the blades when I get upstairs.
Together we start up the stairs, and by golly, the boy is right. There is a loud squealing sound.
I begin to think bearings in the fan motor have seized up, and the thought of having to buy another fan irritates me more. (Remember, I’m already hot, sleepy and grouchy.)
But after a few more steps, my sense of smell overrides my hearing. There is an unmistakable smell of smoke in the air, and soon my eyes are burning. I reach the top of the stairs, hit the light switch and nothing happens. Now I realize it’s not the fan making a squealing noise. It’s the smoke alarm at the top of the stairway. I send my son back downstairs to wake his mother, and tell her they need to get out of the house.
There’s no fire right now, but the room has more than enough smoke in it to tell me there soon will be if I don’t do something.
Before they head outside, my wife brings me a flashlight and I look for the source. It didn’t take long to realize the smoke was coming from a ceiling fan I had installed earlier in the day. I disconnected the fan, took it down and could see red glowing embers on the supporting wood in the ceiling. Then I saw the problem. One of the screws anchoring the fan to the ceiling had gone through the electrical wiring. Fortunately, for us, the circuit breaker tripped and cut power to that line before things got hot enough for a full-fledged fire to develop.
Suddenly I wasn’t grouchy any more. My grouchiness had been replaced by a sense of relief. I was relieved to know my son was safe, that we were safe, and our home was not seriously damaged (except for that one piece of burnt wiring and that one piece of lumber with an extra-crispy edge).
These events actually happened one summer night in 1981, and now as I think back more than 35 years, I realize that a smoke alarm likely saved my son’s life, and certainly prevented a major fire in our home.
There are three working smoke alarms in my house today. Sure it gets annoying sometimes because they go off every time a frozen pizza gets popped in the oven, or every time the microwave popcorn gets a bit overdone. However, that minor annoyance also represents a certain peace of mind. It is a not so subtle reminder that the alarms are working, and that I don’t have to try and remember I need check them each time we move the clocks up or back one hour.
Smoke alarms save homes. Smoke alarms save lives.
This fall, Red Cross volunteers and our partners are coming together to Sound the Alarm: the installation of 100,000 free smoke alarms in more than 100 major cities across the country. In the Central and Southern Illinois Region, we will hold Sound the Alarm events in Bloomington-Normal, Decatur, Kewanee, Muscatine, Peoria and the Quad Cities. The installation and fire safety events will provide a lifesaving service in our quest to reduce death and injury from home fires in high-risk communities.
Story and photo by Brian DeLoche
Red Cross Volunteer
More than 100 volunteers pushing bright orange shopping carts equipped with ladders, tools and smoke alarms paraded away from the Mattis Avenue Free Methodist Church March 25 intent on honoring the memory of one young man who died because his home lacked working smoke alarms.
The Champaign Fire Department, partnering with the American Red Cross, sponsored a home smoke alarm installation event to mark the first anniversary of the fire that claimed the life of Christian Sheehan, 23, March 26, 2016.
Clad in white T-shirts that bore a modified but familiar looking super hero logo that stood for “Sheehan Strong on the front, with the hashtag “#Christian Strong” on the back, the volunteers went door-to-door intent on installing smoke alarms and raising home fire safety awareness. Ironically enough, the route from the church to the neighborhood being canvassed led volunteers past the charred foundation, all that remains of the home Sheehan shared with a friend. Julie Shuler, 26, who was visiting Sheehan’s roommate, also died in the fire.
For the Sheehan family, the Home Fire Campaign marked the culmination of an emotional week that saw not only the anniversary of the fire, but the day that would have been their late son’s 24th birthday.
There were tears at the start of the day as friends and family remembered Christian. There were tears of joy and laughter as they shared remembrances of a young man his parents gleefully admitted “was no saint.” More importantly, there were tears of celebration at the end of the day when the announcement came that more than 200 smoke alarms had been installed in 53 homes in just 3 hours’ time. “This is so amazing,” Joy said. “I was hoping we would get 100. I never dreamed we’d get this many (installed).
“What we did today — what you did today — made a difference,” Champaign Fire Chief Gary Ludwig told the volunteers. “You made a difference because the probability is in the next 10 years, one of the homes that received smoke alarms today will have a fire, and the probability is what you did today may have saved lives. In the past year, we have lost four lives in home fires. I don’t want to see us lose any more.”
The day was also significant for Champaign Firefighter Ralph Russell. Mr. Russell was on duty June 21, 2007 when his engine was dispatched to a familiar sounding address.
“When we pulled up on scene, I told my lieutenant, ‘I have family that lives in this house. What am I supposed to do?” The lieutenant, Mr. Russell said, had never been in that situation before. He said, “I guess we have to go do our jobs.” Mr. Russell’s sister-in-law lost her husband and a child in that fire. “There were two smoke alarms in the house,” he said. “One didn’t have a battery in it, and the one had a battery in it but it was disconnected.”
Mr. Russell summed up the importance of the day’s smoke alarm installation campaign in just one sentence. “It’s such a minor thing that can result in a major loss if it’s not used.”
For Rob and Joy Sheehan, being part of the Home Fire Campaign was something they felt compelled to do. “It feels good being able to bring something so good out of something that was so devastating,” Joy said.
“You can be bitter, or you can be joyful,” Joy continued. “It’s what Christian would want us to do,” Rob added.
The Sheehans had great praise for the fire department’s effort to get the word out and get some alarms into peoples’ homes. “The fire department is like family to us now,” Rob added. “These guys are my brothers now.” The Sheehans also praised Deb Goettig, the American Red Cross Disaster Program Specialist for the Champaign area. “We couldn’t have done this without her help.”
“This was absolutely an unqualified success,” Fire Chief Ludwig added. It’s amazing to see so many people turn out not because they had to be here, but because they wanted to be here.”
The Sheehans now hope to make this an annual event to keep their son’s memory alive and to help prevent any more fire deaths in Champaign.
Home fires kill more people in an average year than every other domestic natural disaster combined. On average, seven people die every day from a home fire and 36 people suffer injuries.
To combat this problem, the American Red Cross introduced the Home Fire Campaign, a multi-year initiative to reduce home fire deaths and injuries by 25 percent by the end of 2019.
As part of the Home Fire Campaign, the Red Cross in collaboration with local fire departments and other community groups does community outreach – visiting homes to install free smoke alarms, replace smoke alarm batteries and help residents make home fire escape plans. To date, almost 240,000 smoke alarms have been installed nationally, including more than 2,200 installed in the American Red Cross Central and Southern Illinois Region.
Recently, as part of the Home Fire Campaign, volunteers installed free smoke alarms in the home of a young family of five in Quincy, Illinois. The volunteers helped the family to create a home fire escape plan and encouraged the family to regularly check the smoke alarms and practice their home escape plan.
In January, the shrill sound of those newly installed smoke alarms alerted the family to a furnace fire in their home. The family was able to quickly evacuate and gather in their designated meeting place outside of the home. Once outside of the home, the family called 9-1-1 and thanks to the fire department’s quick response, there was no major damage to the home.
Having smoke alarms and practicing an escape plan saved five lives – an entire family and their home. Imagine that – five lives saved because people cared.
The family shared their thoughts following the fire, “We were all home during the time of the fire. We heard the smoke alarms go off, and immediately got winter clothes on (because of the cold weather) and exited the home. We then called 911 and my kids went to the neighbor’s house. The fire department arrived and went into the house and put out the fire. It was a furnace fire. When I called 9-1-1, they told me to stay outside, which I did. When the fire department arrived, they shut off the power to the house and inspected the furnace. I guess there was something in the furnace that was burning and causing smoke, and if the smoke alarms didn’t go off . . . I believe it would have kept burning and caught the whole house on fire. Now, because of the extra warning and turning off the furnace before it could fully catch fire, we were able to move back in as soon as the furnace was repaired.”
Nationally, the Home Fire Campaign has saved 69 lives and we are grateful that five of those lives saved were from the Central and Southern Illinois Region.
The American Red Cross joined Dan and Rose Dickerson and their extended family when they visited South Side Trust & Savings Bank on Monday, November 23 to express their gratitude to the bank employees, who helped save Dan Dickerson’s life when he suffered a massive heart attack in the bank lobby.
On June 29, Dan Dickerson had a massive heart attack and suffered a serious hematoma on the back of his head, when he collapsed on the floor in the bank lobby. As he lay bleeding, Leigh Harkless administered first aid and checked to make sure that Dan’s airway was clear, and if he was breathing on his own. Leigh quickly realized that Dan had stopped breathing and his heart had stopped. Leigh hooked up the AED and as she prepared to administer CPR, the AED reading finished and delivered a shock to his heart, just as the paramedics arrived to take over.
Leigh is quick to acknowledge it was a team effort that saved Dan Dickerson. Fellow South Side Bank employees Sara Johnson, Janelle Duggan and Stacey Adams assisted with calling 9-1-1, retrieving the AED, locking the bank and redirecting customers through the drive up. Thanks to their training and calm and quick reaction – the heroes at South Side Trust & Savings Bank gave Dan Dickerson and his family a very special reason to be thankful this year. In an emotional thank you, Rose Dickerson commented that she would be a widow, if it had not been for the quick response of the South Side Bank employees and the outstanding medical care that Dan has received throughout his recovery.
The American Red Cross presented a special certificate of appreciation to South Side Bank in recognition of their commitment to safety and preparedness training. “South Side Trust & Savings Bank is a strong supporter of preparedness training, ensuring that each branch has an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) and employees that are Red Cross certified in first Aid, CPR and AED,” said Betsy Pratt, Regional Chief Executive Officer of the American Red Cross Serving Central and Southern Illinois. “The bank has participated in preparedness training for many years and on June 29, thanks to the quick actions of branch manager Leigh Harkless and the entire team at the Sheridan Road facility their training helped save the life of Dan Dickerson.”
The American Red Cross offers hands-on, in-person classes at convenient times, in locations close to you. Or, choose one of the online training options: complete the online portion at your own pace, then come in for a short session to check your skills. Certification is good for two years, and you can take free online skills refreshers during that time. Visit redcross.org to learn more or register for a class.