Friday, August 29, 2014

It’s a Preparedness Training Bonanza!

Are you looking for ideas on activities you can undertake during National Preparedness Month? Check out these free online resources from FEMA. Below are clickable links to training that relates to preparedness and disaster response. These links will open in a new window. These courses are free and online so you can take them at your own pace.  The American Red Cross also offers a number of online or in-class courses that will help improve your families understanding and awareness of the recommended procedures for preparing for, responding to and recovering from a disaster. Visit the Red Cross to find out more information.

IS-909: Community Preparedness: Implementing Simple Activities for Everyone helps participants define preparedness, describe the role of individuals and households in preparedness, identify community preparedness principles, describe the purpose of community-based preparedness activities, identify the steps for planning and conducting a community-based preparedness program and identify resources for supporting community-based preparedness programs.

The Preparedness Activities for Communities Everywhere Toolkit  (available in English and Spanish) can educate individuals about simple steps they can take to become more prepared.

IS-22 - Are You Ready? An In-depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness
IS-909 - Community Preparedness: Implementing Simple Activities for Everyone
IS-394a - Protecting Your Home or Small Business From Disaster

IS-100b - Introduction to Incident Command System (ICS)
Introduction to the Incident Command System for Schools
IS-200b - ICS for Single Resources and Initial Action Incidents
National Incident Management System (NIMS) An Introduction
NIMS Multiagency Coordination System (MACS) Course
National Incident Management System (NIMS) Public Information Systems
NIMS Resource Management
NIMS Communications and Information Management
NIMS Intrastate Mutual Aid - An Introduction
National Response Framework, An Introduction

IS-120a - An Introduction to Exercises
IS-130 - Exercise Evaluation and Improvement Planning
IS-139 - Exercise Design

Professional Development Series
Exercise Design
Fundamentals of Emergency Management
Emergency Planning
Leadership & Influence
Decision Making and Problem Solving
Effective Communication
Developing and Managing Volunteers

Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP):
Continuity of Operations Awareness Course
Introduction to Continuity of Operations
Continuity of Operations (COOP) Program Manager
Devolution Planning

The Role of Voluntary Agencies in Emergency Management

Emergency Support Function (ESF) #6 – Mass Care, Emergency Assistance, Housing, and Human Services

EOC Management and Operations

Community Hurricane Preparedness

Emergency Support Function 15 (ESF 15) External Affairs: A New Approach to Emergency Communication and Information Distribution

Basic Instructional Skills

Anticipating Hazardous Weather & Community Risk

Planning for the Needs of Children in Disasters

Implementing the Emergency Food and Shelter National Board Program

Developing and Managing Volunteers

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Geneva Conventions: Celebrating 150 years of Humanitarian Action

By Bill Fortune, American Red Cross

Geneva Conventions
 poster from Library of

Every day we are bombarded with the horrors of war. We wake up in the morning and bear witness to atrocities. Many live in fear for loved ones that are trying to survive in the midst of conflict. Many of those loved ones struggle to survive.

Wars have raged throughout the centuries and each one becomes the "worst ever". The rules of engagement may have changed and our weaponry has become more sophisticated but that has only served to escalate the need for humanitarian action.

Wars now rage in densely populated areas resulting in direct impact on civilians. Hundreds of thousands of people become refugees as they try to avoid a conflict. Regard for human life has declined to the point where civilian casualty counts exceed those who are actually doing the fighting.

But, even wars have limits, or at least they should have.  The Geneva Conventions were written to set a standard of humanitarian action. The Conventions are still relevant today and perhaps have more meaning than ever. Have we forgotten that? We know there are forces today that do not "sign on" to the Geneva Conventions and who feel that any and all means should be used to further their cause. Those nations that have "signed on" remain committed to the words and the ideals behind the agreements. It is time for us to remember.

August 22 commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions which were first developed on that date in 1864. A time when the United States was deeply involved with the Civil War. This treaty bound 11 European nations to provide aid to wounded soldiers in all future conflicts and to recognize the neutrality of aid workers and the wounded. Eleven of those original signers of the Geneva Convention also pledged to establish national Red Cross societies.

Pamphlet cover for "The Red Cross
and the Geneva Convention"
It took several years for the United States to ratify the treaty. Clara Barton, a proponent of the Conventions, lobbied heavily in the United States to solicit support for an American Red Cross Society. She published a pamphlet in 1878 called The American Red Cross and the Geneva Convention that emphasized the importance of supporting international humanitarianism along with a unique set of peacetime responsibilities. It wasn't until 1882 that the United States Senate voted to ratify the Geneva Conventions  and authorized the American Red Cross to act as its official relief agency in time of war.

As the American Red Cross expanded, under the leadership of Clara Barton, its role during peacetime transformed itself into one with a focus on civilian relief following disasters. Disaster response included distribution of material aid during major floods in 1883, earthquakes in 1886, tornadoes and yellow fever in 1888 and the Johnstown, PA flood in 1889.

Since those formative years the American Red Cross has remained a leader in humanitarian action around the world. Today we look back on a proud history of humanitarian service and action, thankful for those whose love for humanity gave them the strength and courage to bring nations together under the Geneva Conventions.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

This 2-min video could save your life

by Patricia Billinger

In 2014, we're celebrating 100 years of the Red Cross saving lives in Colorado.
I've talked to more than a dozen regular people who are just like any one else, but with one important difference: they have used their ordinary hands to save someone's life. In general, they all say the same two things:
1. "I'm so glad I was trained."
2. "When I took the training, I never thought I'd use it/I hoped I'd never have to use it."

Well, they were trained, and they did use it, and they did save a life.

In most cases it was a loved one or co-worker, but in some cases it was a total stranger. The fact is, there is a good chance that you or someone you know will need emergency first aid, CPR or an AED. And there's a very good chance that YOU will be the person who can make the difference between life and death.

So, if you do nothing else, take two minutes to watch the video above - it gives the basic, essential overview of what you can do to save the life of someone who has stopped breathing.

Then, consider these reasons why it's worth finding a few hours to complete a training, either in person or via a blend of online and classroom training:
  1. Sudden cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death in Americans.
  2. One in five Americans said they knew someone who had drowned, and 20 percent knew someone who nearly drowned. (See poll here)
  3. Permanent brain damage can occur in as little as 4 minutes without oxygen, and brain death is likely after 10 minutes.
  4.  Someone's chances of survival drop 10 percent for every minute they go without treatment.
Look, let me be straightforward: We want you to take the time to get fully trained in CPR and First Aid. Investing a few hours to get full, hands-on instruction in the correct techniques will make you more confident and better able to respond properly when an emergency does strike. Check out our full list of classes in your area at

But if you don't find time to take the full training, please take two minutes to watch this video.
And then ask your coworkers and loved ones to watch it too - because you never know; it could be you whose life ends up being saved by someone who took a couple minutes to learn basic CPR.

And if your life was saved by CPR, or if you used your CPR or First Aid training to help someone in need, we want to hear and celebrate your story! Submit your lifesaving story at

Friday, August 15, 2014

Restoring Communication After 13 Years

Local Red Cross workers connected a Colorado mother with her daughter in Uganda after they had been separated for over 10 years.

Sarah was separated from her family as a young girl when they fled the Democratic Republic of the Congo to escape a violent civil war. Sarah’s father, brother, and all but one sister were killed one night in the heated civil war plaguing the DRC. Unbeknownst to her, Sarah’s mother and sister made it to the U.S., eventually making Colorado their new home, while she found her way to Uganda. Dr. Naomi Leavitt met Sarah while volunteering with a small non-governmental organization in Uganda. Leavitt also serves as an American Red Cross volunteer in the Restoring Family Links (RFL) program in Massachusetts. Knowing that the Red Cross RFL program has successfully reconnected families like Sarah’s, Leavitt stayed in touch with the woman. Sarah had provided Leavitt with key information about her mother and sister that would prove helpful in initiating a Red Cross Family Tracing case: for example, she knew their birthdates and had been told the two had been sponsored to move to the U.S. from their refugee camp.

That trail led to Colorado, where Sarah’s mom had resettled. A Restoring Family Links Red Cross volunteer in Colorado located Sarah’s mother and sister and contacted the mother concerning her long- lost daughter.

“She thought she was dead. It had been 10-plus years since she had seen or talked to her daughter,” said Tim Bothe, International Services Manager for the American Red Cross of Colorado.

In this case, the mother didn’t hesitate to reach out to her daughter in Uganda. She filled out the Red Cross form necessary for establishing communication. The form, which is routinely screened for content, included information on the family members and asked to get in touch. The rest was in the hands of her separated daughter. The form traveled from the a local case worker in Denver to the American National Red Cross in Washington D.C. to the Ugandan Red Cross, to a local case worker and finally, was delivered to her daughter.

Thanks to Leavitt and the other Red Cross volunteers and staff working on this case, communication between a Colorado mother and the daughter she thought to be dead has been restored after 10 years of silence. For the first time, the mother learned she has five grandchildren.

The American Red Cross assists in reconnecting more than 5,000 families in the U.S. and around the world every year through the Restoring Family Links program. There is no charge for the program, its purpose being to locate family members and restore communication. To find out more, visit http:// .

Sarah in Uganda