It was the middle of the night when Carol Crawford, 59, felt someone shaking her as she slept. When she turned to look – no one was there.

She went back to sleep. Then, it happened again – but this time, the shaking was harder. Again, she turned to look – and no one was next to her.

Stirred, she decided to go check on her son, Reggie Crawford, 32. Reggie works late into the night stocking a freezer at Wawa. He usually returns home in the early morning hours.

When she opened his bedroom door, it was a terrifying sight: a fire was completely surrounding him in his bed.

Carol quickly woke her son and got him out of the home, telling him to leave everything behind.

As scary as the situation was, it was one Carol had prepared for. She was trained by the Red Cross of Eastern Pennsylvania on how to respond to emergencies. As a teacher, she had even taught students what to do if a fire broke out. For her, it was second nature.

“I froze sometimes,” Carol said, recalling moments when the adrenaline rush almost paralyzed her. “But I had to be strong for my son.”

The fire department quickly arrived and contained the blaze, which was limited to Reggie’s bedroom. Unfortunately, though, they had to check to see if there was fire elsewhere in the home – which resulted in damage.

The Red Cross was called to help. Within ten minutes, a volunteer arrived. “We were frightened. We were scared. They gave us courage, hope, peace,” Carol said.

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Since Carol had been trained by the Red Cross, she knew about the Red Cross House, and the services it made available to people affected by fires.  The Red Cross House quickly responded when she reached out.

For Carol and her son, it made a devastating life event a little easier to cope with.

“When I got here, it felt like home,” she said. “The People here are very generous. There are no words to describe.”

Now, Carol and Reggie are working to clean and restore their damaged home. Carol credits her disaster preparedness with saving her and her son’s life.

“Training. What to do in a disaster. Practice it. Even plan it.”

 

Interviewed and written by Chris Peralta

 

The house was quiet as Reggie Ector sat in his den, reading. Suddenly, he heard three pops.

Curious, he looked around, wondering what the sound was. It didn’t take long to find out: he saw fire coming out of an electrical socket in the room.

Seeing that the fire was small, he tried to put it out with water. His fiancé, who was in a bedroom at the time, soon joined the effort. Reggie would later call this a mistake.

“Trying to put the fire out put our lives in danger,” he said.

They tried to fill a bucket with water. The bucket was too large for a sink, so they could barely get any water inside. Eventually, they grabbed a fire extinguisher, but by then smoke was becoming too thick and they were becoming disoriented.

Ten minutes after the fire started, they escaped the house.

A neighbor saw all the smoke and called 911. Firefighters soon arrived and were able to put the fire out.

Reggie was hospitalized for smoke inhalation. His fiancé was treated for a burn on her ear, the result of exposure to the heat.

Reggie’s sister came to see him in the hospital. While she was there, she told him she had called the Red Cross to help him out.

“It was a sense of relief to know I’d have a place to rest my head,” he said.

It wasn’t Regggie’s first time interacting with the Red Cross. He had been a volunteer with Disaster Services. But even though he had comforted and helped fire victims before, he admits he had no idea what it was like.

“Never did it dawn on me what a fire victim goes through, until it happened to me.”DSC_0012

The house has significant damage to it. The fire was mostly contained to one room, but the smoke damage is extensive. While he plans his next steps, Reggie says the Red Cross House is helping him through one of life’s toughest experiences.

“The food, the shelter, having a place to lay your head that was safe and clean,” he said, “that made a difference.”

But it hasn’t just been about the place to stay. It’s also been about the people who are providing comfort through some of life’s difficulties.

“I’ve laid in bed, crying many nights, thankful to God for this place,” Reggie said. “This place is excellent. Never have I met a more compassionate group of people. There’s a special kind of people here.”

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Interviewed and written by Chris Peralta

Your time and talent can make a real difference in people’s lives.

Volunteers carry out 90% of the humanitarian work of the Red Cross. That’s 15 volunteers for every one employee.  Our vital work is only possible because of our amazing cadre of volunteers.

Nearly 400,000 individuals volunteered nationwide with the American Red Cross last year, but our volunteers aren’t just a number. Volunteers are the heart of the Red Cross, and we couldn’t fulfill our lifesaving mission without them.  Whether helping one displaced family or thousands, providing care and comfort to an ill or injured service member or veteran, or teaching others how to respond in emergencies, it’s through the efforts of ordinary people that we can do extraordinary things.

Here in Eastern Pennsylvania we have over 3,800 volunteers throughout the 17 county region.  Volunteers with the American Red Cross can set flexible schedules in volunteer positions that appeal to their specific skills or interests.  The American Red Cross provides compassionate care in five critical areas with many opportunities within each department:

  • People affected by disasters
  • Support for members of the military, veterans and their families
  • Blood collection, processing and distribution
  • Health and safety education and training
  • International relief and development

In Eastern Pennsylvania, we responded to over 1,200 disasters last year.  We train and send volunteers to respond both locally and to help in national disaster relief efforts.  We help educate communities through preparedness presentations on how to prevent and prepare for emergencies.

The Red Cross responds to military families experiencing an immediate need by providing emergency communications, family follow up, access to financial assistance, and disaster services.  The American Red Cross serves the military community and military medical facilities including military and VA hospitals, VA outpatient clinics, military community health care clinics, Veteran Centers, Veteran Community Living Centers, and Veteran State Homes.

The Red Cross is one of the nation’s largest blood collection organizations.  We need more donor ambassadors, transportation specialists, and community outreach specialists.

Preparedness and Health and Safety Services is the prime provider of education on first aid, CPR, AED, aquatics, and water safety and we need instructors to help train the communities.

Beyond our core focus areas, there are opportunities in fundraising, special events, communications, writing and social media outreach, volunteer management, community outreach, office administration, and board member positions.

Our volunteers give their time and talent every day to the Red Cross because the Red Cross is needed every day.  By volunteering with the American Red Cross, you can truly make a difference in a variety of ways. Visit: www.redcross.org/volunteer to become a volunteer today.

Join us!

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Everything the American Red Cross does depends on the needs of the people that we serve and we could not be there without the generous support of the community.  Since being founded in 1881, the Red Cross has been a consistent lifeline for people when they need us the most. The depth and breadth of our services – whenever and wherever they’re called for – is unmatched by any organization, charity or non-profit in the world.  By supporting the Red Cross, you are there for hundreds of people who face emergencies in our region a year and help as they rebuild their lives.  Last year our region responded to over 1,200 disasters in which 5,500 people were given emergency assistance.  We installed over 6,400 smoke alarms making families in our community safer and educated over 7,800 elementary students in disaster preparedness through the Pillowcase Project.

Each year the American Red Cross in Eastern Pennsylvania conducts a number of signature events throughout the Eastern Pennsylvania Region that would not be possible without the generous support of our community and sponsors. We welcome you to come out in support of these events as money raised goes back into the many services we provide to the local community.

Mark your calendars for these upcoming events from March 2017- June 2017:

March 5, 2017- Pocono Telethon: www.redcross.org/poconotelethon
March 23, 2017 – NEPA Centennial Celebration: www.redcross.org/NEPA100
April 1, 2017 – Red Ball: www.redcross.org/redball2017
April 7, 2017 – Cabaret & Cuisine, Stayin’ Alive: www.redcross.org/cabaret2017
May 17, 2017- Clara Barton Awards Reception
May 20, 2017 – Celebration of Life SAF Walk
May 21, 2017 – Run for the Red Pocono Marathon: www.redcross.org/poconomarathon
June 1, 2017 – Citizen of the Year
June 19, 2017 – Red Cross Cup Golf Tournament
Visit our Heroes page to view all our Heroes events throughout the region at www.redcross.org/EPAheroes

Visit our events page to keep updated on each of our special events.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Life’s more persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?”

As part of the MLK Day of Service, the Red Cross Eastern Pennsylvania Region participated in a nationwide effort to install 15,000 smoke alarms in homes across the country.  The Red Cross held six smoke alarm installation events across our 17 county region, installing approximately 1,200 smoke alarms. It’s all part of the continuing Home Fire Campaign to make our communities safer and better prepared.

Red Cross volunteers, along with local fire departments and our community partners, went door-to-door to speak with residents and educate them on potential home fire hazards and risks. Fire safety information was provided in English and Spanish and residents received free smoke alarms installed in their homes.

Since 2015, the Eastern Pennsylvania Region, in partnership with local fire departments and community partners, have installed approximately 8,000 smoke alarms.

Take a moment to watch the MLK Day of Service Video.

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Lehigh Valley-Bucks Chapter

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Tri-County Chapter

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NEPA Chapter

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SEPA Chapter

Photo galleries of the events can be found here.

IMPACT OF HOME FIRES & RED CROSS RESPONSE:  Seven times a day someone in this country dies in a home fire and on average 36 people suffer injuries as a result of home fires every day. To combat these tragic statistics, the Red Cross has launched a nationwide campaign to reduce the number of deaths and injuries due to home fires by 25 percent by 2020. Since 2014 the Home Fire Campaign has saved 116 lives nationwide.

Home fires remain the biggest disaster threat to individuals and families in the United States and the number one disaster the Red Cross responds to in America. This campaign is in direct response to that dire threat, with the Red Cross committed to install 2.5 million free smoke alarms in neighborhoods at high risk for fires, and to educate those residents about fire prevention and preparedness.

HOME FIRE SAFETY, A FEW SIMPLE STEPS: Most home fires can be prevented. The Red Cross is asking everyone to take two simple steps that can save lives: check their existing smoke alarm and practice fire drills at home.

There are several things families and individuals can do to increase their chances of survival in a fire:

  1. If someone doesn’t have smoke alarms, install them.  At a minimum, put one on every level of the home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Local building codes vary and there may be additional requirements where someone lives and practice.
  2. If someone does have alarms, test them today.  If they don’t work, replace them.
  3. Make sure everyone in the family knows how to get out of every room and the home in less than two minutes.
  4. Practice the plan with home fire drills.  What’s the household’s escape time?  An individual only has two minutes.

 

To become a Red Cross volunteer please visit, www.redcross.org/volunteer.

Seven times a day, someone dies in a home fire. Every 40 minutes, an injury from a fire is reported. Nearly 1,000 times every day, fire departments are called to home fires. Damage from US home fires is bigger than the entire annual sales of many Fortune 500 companies.

In an unprecedented effort to combine new technology and innovation with old-fashioned neighbor-to-neighbor outreach, the Red Cross will save lives, reduce injuries, and cut down on needless losses. In October 2014, the Red Cross began a nationwide campaign to reduce the number of fire deaths and injuries in the United States by 25% within five years, through the Home Fire Preparedness Campaign.

On Saturday, November 19, 2016 more than two dozen American Red Cross volunteers and several local community partners joined together for a Home Fire Campaign smoke alarm installation event in Wilkes-Barre, PA. In total 185 smoke alarms were installed that day, bringing the 2016 total to more than 4,000 smoke alarms installed in the four counties that make up the Northeastern Pennsylvania chapter of the American Red Cross.

On this day the importance of the program became readily apparent to all involved upon knocking on the very first door. Gregorio Perez answered that knock on the door and was asked by a Red Cross volunteer if he had any working smoke alarms. His answer was a simple “no” and he didn’t hesitate to let the volunteers in to install these potentially lifesaving smoke alarms. When asked why he didn’t have any smoke alarms, Perez only said that he hadn’t really thought about it.

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American Red Cross local community partner John Catalano of Tobyhanna, PA talks with Wilkes-Barre, PA resident Gregorio Perez about a home fire escape plan for he and his family. 

Red Cross volunteers worked to install six alarms in the Perez home, one on each floor and one in each bedroom. Volunteers also discussed with Perez the importance of having a home fire escape plan. Perez was extremely grateful to the American Red Cross. This group of volunteers knows their work is important and now knows they may have saved lives that day.

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American Red Cross local community partner Xavier Holcomb screws in a smoke alarm plate as Maxine Alexander readies the new 10-year smoke alarm. In the background, Red Cross volunteer Andrew Roth discusses the placement of new smoke alarms in the home with a resident. 

Last fiscal year alone, the region installed over 6,400 smoke alarms in homes spanning across our 17 county region.  We continue to work with community groups and welcome anyone that is interested in volunteering with the program.  Each chapter has scheduled events throughout the year and depends on volunteers and community partners.

For more information or if you are interested in volunteering visit: www.redcross.org/easternpa and click on the link to your local chapter.

Georgiann Teater was making a meatloaf dinner when she noticed smoke emerging from the back of her stove. Flames quickly followed, and she yelled to her family to flee outside.

After escaping, Teater immediately called 9-1-1. Firefighters arrived within minutes, but the damage to the first floor was severe enough to deem her Philadelphia home unlivable.

“I was so upset because this had never happened to me before,” said Teater, a grandmother.

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Stranded outside on an October evening, she was grateful to have the support of American Red Cross Volunteers, who arrived to offer assistance for her family’s urgent needs. They helped provide a safe place to stay, food and clothing.

“The people here at the Red Cross are just absolutely fantastic,” Teater said. “They have treated my family with respect every step of the way. They just continue to go above and beyond the call of duty.”