Although she did not give many specifics, Wright did mention that part of the Red Cross’ CPR training would soon be available online.
Wright outlined three main components of the local American Red Cross. These are helping military families by contacting commanders when a soldier’s family has an emergency and needs the soldier at home; health and safety services, and responding to house fires.
One letter the American Red Cross wrote to a commander was concerning a soldiers father who was in a coma. Because of this letter the son was able to be home when the father regained consciousness. Wright said that commanders only grant emergency leave because of letters from the Red Cross.
Locally, last week the American Red Cross responded to two house fires that left eight children and four adults without a home. Wright explained the chaos of a fire scene and how the Red Cross helps the families.
“You scan the faces ... and you can immediately pick out which one the home belongs to,” Wright said.
Many times helping the family on the scene is initially about listening and talking, then volunteers start helping the family pick up the pieces.
Wright said these times are emotional for her. She said the Red Cross helps the family start figuring out where to stay, if relatives can help and what to expect in the near future.
For those who cannot find a place to stay for the night, the Red Cross makes arrangements for them to stay in a motel for up to three nights. Wright said that in Bradley County the Red Cross works with the United Way to help those who have lost everything apply for rent and utility assistance to help them make the transition to a more permanent location. They also provide a bag of toiletries and help them get the other necessities they need.
This year a lot of growth the Hiwassee chapter has seen has been in health and safety services. This consists of CPR and first aid training, as well as a nurse assistant training program.
Wright said caregiving is a job that will not be replaced by a machine. She sees the nurse assistant training program as a way of assuring there are caring people to fill these roles.
She also talked about how local chapters come together in times of crisis.
“The great thing about the American Red Cross local chapter is we have the support of 600 other chapters just like us if something happens in our community,” Wright said. “That’s the strength of the American Red Cross.”
Wright said that in sharing a common mission, the local chapters come together to provide the support needed when disaster strikes a community.
She said it is the American people, through donations, who made their work possible.
A Rotary member asked why the local chapter does not have a blood service center. Wright said she’s never been able to find out why there isn’t such a center locally, but assured Rotary members the service is something the national American Red Cross still does. Another member asked how the local Red Cross was doing with volunteers. Wright said that they were doing pretty well, mentioning that their AmeriCorps VISTA program had been working on increasing volunteers.