Red Cross Brings Home Fire Safety Awareness to Your Front Door!

Seven times a day someone dies in a home fire and a fire-related injury is reported every 40 minutes. That’s why the American Red Cross initiated a Home Fire Preparedness Campaign, with a goal to reduce these figures by 25 percent within five years.

The Red Cross in Stevens Point teamed up with the Stevens Point Fire Department and RSVP Saturday, October 11 to kick-off the program. Volunteers went door-to-door and installed smoke alarms in residents’ homes. They also provided home safety checklists, talked with residents about fire safety and helped them identify fire escape plans. This wasn’t just a local campaign, though. Red Cross chapters throughout the country were participating as well.

“It’s powerful when chapters across the nation do it together, as ‘One Red Cross’. It’s all of our initiative, we all own it,” said Wendy Savage, community chapter executive for the North Central Chapter of the Red Cross. “The neighborhood we targeted had 16 injuries and even fatalities in the past four years, which makes education even more important to residents. By having a working alarm and practicing a family escape plan, you cut your chances of dying in a fire by 50 percent.”

The Red Cross had gone door-to-door the week before to let residents know they would be installing smoke alarms. Red Cross workers weren’t the only ones excited about this campaign; many Stevens Point residents were thrilled the Red Cross had started the initiative. Ryan Hay, was glad the Red Cross had done this. “Even just knowing someone was coming to check in on my smoke detectors forced me beforehand to take stock of what I had.”

The lead Red Cross volunteer, John Grosman, for the Stevens Point campaign, knows first-hand how devastating a home fire can be. “I’m with the Red Cross because our house burned down when I was a kid. And there were no fire departments around, and nobody else came but the Red Cross. The fact that they can take the lead on this type of issue is great.”

Red Cross volunteers were in agreement the day was a success and are already looking forward to future events. “Down the line we may hear from a family who was saved by a smoke alarm we installed and maybe helping them make an evacuation plan could save lives. So, this is worth it,” Wendy concluded.

By Lindsey Puls, American Red Cross Volunteer

Stevens Point, Wisconsin

Photo: Ryan Brockman and Catherine Nolan, American Red Cross disaster action team members install smoke alarms during the North Central Wisconsin Chapters Fire Canvassing Day in Stevens Point Wisconsin

Dying Mother Saves Son from Death

Originally posted on American Red Cross Northeast Wisconsin:

Written by Barbara Behling, Communications Director

In honor of the many men and women who have served our country and continue to serve, we thank you today and everyday for your service. 


Even from a deathbed, a mother can save a child. This was the case for Neil Starke, serving in the US Coast Guard during WWII. Thanks to the American Red Cross Services to Armed Forces program he was able to share her last breaths, a visit which also saved his own life.

In the heart of WWII, the USS El Paso was situated at 114° North & 120° East. From these decks, air & sea rescues off the Philippines coasts were conducted. It was in the heart of the fighting, he received a cablegram from the Red Cross which explained his father had fallen while riding a bus, with trauma to his head, he was sent…

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Special Thanks to Our Volunteers, Employees and Donors During Sandy

Originally posted on American Red Cross Northeast Wisconsin:

By: Trevor Riggen, Vice President of Disaster Services Operations and Logistics, American Red Cross

hurricane-sandy09Today marks the two-year anniversary of one of the largest responses in the long and proud history of this organization. It was a storm and challenge so unique that they had to come up with a new name just to describe it – Superstorm Sandy.  It was a massive, powerful storm that hit the most densely populated area of the country at the tail end of hurricane season followed by falling temperatures, snow, and enormous need throughout the region.

I want to begin by saying thank you to each and every one of you who donated money or raised your hand to join in serving those in need during the long weeks that followed landfall and to the thousands more who have served in our ongoing recovery efforts. So much great work was done by…

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Red Cross Kicks Off New Campaign To Reduce Home Fire Deaths and Injuries

Originally posted on American Red Cross SE WI Blog:

Efforts will include installing smoke alarms and urging people to practice fire escape plans

10710893_10152718411990071_1668250310886687572_nThe American Red Cross announced today a new campaign throughout Wisconsin and across the country to reduce deaths and injuries from home fires by as much as 25 percent over the next five years.

Seven times a day someone in this country dies in a fire. The Red Cross campaign focuses on joining fire departments and community groups nationwide to install smoke alarms in communities with high numbers of fires and encouraging everyone to practice their fire escape plans.

The Red Cross also is asking every household in America to take the two simple steps that can save lives: checking their existing smoke alarms and practicing fire drills at home.

The Red Cross will begin with canvassing the Thurston Woods neighborhood in Milwaukee and Stevens Point on Saturday morning, October 11th. The Beloit community canvassing will…

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August Volunteer of the Month: Barbara Skolaski

Barbara Skolaski, August Volunteer of the Month, embodies the dedication and hard work of American Red Cross office support volunteers.

Barbara started with the Red Cross in 2003 after retiring from her lifelong job in 2002 and working a part-time job for a year. A friend who volunteered for years with Biomedical Services encouraged her to try out the Red Cross, while another friend suggested a local retirement community. Barb was able to fit both organizations into her schedule. “This gave me the feeling of having a ‘part time’ job,” Barbara stated.

Her work entering data may seem mundane to some, but it is essential to keep information comprehensive and useful.  Barb loves data entry and the Red Cross was able to offer that kind of work. However, Barb noted it is the people at Red Cross that make it a real pleasure to ‘go to work’ and associate with such friendly, sincere and helpful people.

Of course her team members at the Red Cross note she is one of their most dedicated volunteers, working about 12 hours per week. “Barbara is kind, caring, and always welcomes us in the morning with a ‘Good morning dear, how are you today?’” noted Dana Pavelsky, Red Cross Major Gift Associate. Although Barbara works in two departments, she is still a steadfast ally when someone needs assistance on short notice. She arranged her schedule to work on a time-sensitive project related to the Typhoon Haiyan response and used her expertise to complete the job. Ms. Pavelsky also noted that, “No amount of nasty Wisconsin weather keeps Barb from her mission of getting here to help us out.”

The fund development team says Barb is a joy to be around and has great insight about the Red Cross.   Barb feels that volunteering with the American Red Cross is a wonderful way to give back to the community while providing much personal satisfaction. Thanks to Barb for making our work easier and our days brighter.

August Volunteer of the Month: Anthony Maas

A ‘big heart’ and a desire to help drew Anthony Maass, Volunteer of the Month, to become an American Red Cross disaster responder in 2006. “I am always willing to be there for someone when they need a person to talk to,” Anthony noted. Whether he is cleaning and arranging a storeroom, securing fleet maintenance for the Emergency Response Vehicle, or helping people after a disaster; Anthony is willing to do the work to keep things running smoothly and meet the needs of our Red Cross clients.

Antohny volunteers because he enjoys learning new skills and ways to handle difficult situations. He also enjoys meeting volunteers of varied backgrounds who are working toward the common goal of meeting emergency needs after a disaster. Anthony noted that sometimes you just have to be willing to be there for someone when they need a person to talk to. Not only does Anthony develop great rapport with clients needing assistance after a disaster, he is supportive of new volunteers who are learning the ropes. ‘He always has a positive attitude and wants to help further the humanitarian mission of the Red Cross in his community,’ Linda Soltis-Schroeder, Regional Volunteer Specialist, stated.

Anthony has responded locally to help people whose home has burned, but his most memorable volunteer experience was working in Merrill, WI after the tornado where Anthony saw the true meaning of team work.  He truly enjoys being a part of a team that can make a huge impact through many different people coming together to help each other and the community. Thank you Anthony for helping people and laying the groundwork for Red Cross responses!

The Wausau Woodchucks recently had a Red Cross night at their baseball game where we had the opportunity to present Anthony Maass with his volunteer of the month award.
The Wausau Woodchucks recently had a Red Cross night at their baseball game where we had the opportunity to present Anthony Maass with his volunteer of the month award.

A Different Take on Summer Exercising

It has been a summer of exercising for Western Wisconsin Region Red Cross disaster volunteers. Trained Disaster Responders have tested their skills and our Regional response capabilities through simulated incidents all summer long. Lindsey Puls, of Stevens Point, served as a Red Cross Disaster Public Affairs responder on July 17 for the University of Wisconsin – Madison Operation Wisconsin Dawn exercise. The Operation Wisconsin Dawn exercise simulated a bomb detonation in Camp Randall Stadium to test multiple agencies’ preparedness in a crisis involving mass casualties.  Lindsey shares her thoughts on the valuable experience that exercises provide for the Red Cross and for our partners.

“Participating in the Operation Wisconsin Dawn exercise was an incredible and realistic learning experience for me. From the moment the “explosion” happened, everyone went into disaster mode and took the exercise very seriously. Being a relatively new Red Cross Public Affairs volunteer, it was great for me to see firsthand just how the Red Cross would handle such a situation and what my role would be. It was also wonderful to collaborate with not only our trained disaster responders from the Red Cross, but also with many other volunteer and government organizations. From holding press conferences to making sure websites and social media pages were up-to-date, it was great to practice the different ways we would use to make sure the public is informed. Hopefully none of us will have to actually deal with such a scenario. But if it ever does happen, I’m  confident our community will be in good hands.”

Joint Information Center served as a central location for all agencies communications to be funneled and disseminated in one unified message.
Lindsey worked side by side 14 partner agencies  at the Joint Information Center (JIC) .  The JIC served as a central location for all agencies to organize their communications to be funneled and then disseminated in one unified message.


Safe and Well table set up for roleplayers looking to register themselves as safe or for families to look for for their loved ones.
A Safe and Well table was set up for roleplayers looking to register themselves as safe or for families to look for for their loved ones.
We work closely with local authorities and many agencies during these exercises.
We work closely with local authorities and agencies during these exercises to ensure we are providing the best services to those in need.
Bob (Disaster Mental Health volunteer) and Connie (Disaster Health Services volunteer) discuss their strategy for the exercise.
Bob (Disaster Mental Health volunteer) and Connie (Disaster Health Services volunteer) discuss their strategy for the exercise.

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