“Resolved, I will no longer be a sink-easy”

I’m sure that the day will come when people look back on our primitive blogging and say, “I can’t believe people used to talk that way!”  Of course, they’ll say it in a crazy futuristic language.

Anyway, I was looking for some information on water safety for summer, when the PDX chapter (Portland, OR) beat me to the punch again with their seemingly endless energy for Google searching.   Here’s their latest find, a Learn to Swim article circa 1921 – I can’t believe people used to talk that way.

click for large version

click for large version

Happy Birthday Red Cross (And Lorraine!)

Today, the American Red Cross is 128 years old.  That’s a lot of years of helping people!

In an amazing turn of fate, one of our Disaster Services Volunteers celebrates a birthday today as well.  Lorraine Jacobs, one of our most motivated volunteers, is 52 today. Happy Birthday, Lorraine!

Lorraine Loves Roosters!

Lorraine Loves Roosters!

Santa Barbara Fire Response: A volunteer’s perspective

One of our volunteers, Mr. Bill Fitler, just got back from working the wildfire relief down in Santa Barbara.  Bill is a great volunteer and board member.  He goes to almost every disaster and works in leadership roles at the shelters.  AND, Bill does all of this with a relative calm.  As you can imagine, this is a helpful trait to have during a disaster response.

During his time in Santa Barbara, Bill wrote this entry on his Facebook page.  It’s an awesome look into the life of a Red Cross volunteer.  Thanks for sharing, Bill!

I’m volunteering for the Red Cross doing disaster relief for the Jesusita Fire. This past Friday, 4 of us were called down from our Santa Cruz chapter. I came down to help Govt Liaisons in the Emergency Operations Center (which was a new role for me). Santa Barbara has a very strong disaster cadre, and with the events of last year (Gap and Tea fires) they have recent experience. So I was a tad surprised that they called for mutual support.

The reason that the mutual aid call went out is because of how scary it was on Thursday night. The “sundowner” winds that night kicked in about 10pm and more than doubled the fire size in the next few hours. They evacuated 9000(?) homes at 2am and flooded the shelters with people who had little time to ask friends and family for a place to stay. We got down on Friday, and watched the spectacular flames viewable that were visible on the hills from most of the city.

On Saturday morning the fog had rolled in. Along with 590 fire engines and 4500 firefighters. It went from 10% containment to 55% containment this Sunday morning (which, thankfully, is still a bit foggy). Another “weather event” could arrive as soon as tomorrow, which could put the kabosh on our winding down – but unless that happens, its starting to feel like a drill (and that’s a good thing).

Working disaster for the Red Cross is no picnic. Friday night I slept (sort of) in a staff shelter on a cot (Saturday afternoon I slept through a staff meeting…) The hours can be really long: even when things are winding down, 12 hour shifts aren’t uncommon. There are times of frustration and hectic business interspersed with hours of waiting just being at a post.

And I meet a lot of great people. I’ve got a powerful respect for fire crews battling the fires in these rugged conditions (and did I mention that fire season *starts* tomorrow?) My fellow volunteers turn out to have fascinating stories (and sometimes we’ll have hours to share them with each other). And my heart goes out to the clients we meet who have been turned out of their homes either temporarily or much longer. Been there, done that – and I know how great it can be to get the t-shirt from someone who cares.

This is honest to goodness trouble.

When Shirley Temple wasn’t begging for a Zoo Animal for Christmas, or singing about candy or gum drops or some other such thing, she was supporting the American Red Cross!

Did you know that it still only takes a dollar to join the Santa Cruz County Chapter?  Anyone who volunteers or donates is considered a member of our chapter.

Wildfire Awareness Week, May 3-9

Did you know that this week is Wildfire Awareness Week?  After a rainy start, its hard to imagine that we’re heading straight into another Wildfire season, and that CAL FIRE is already ramping up their training.

Santa Barbara is feeling the heat – big time.  Their chapter headquarters had to evacuate and they are doing their work from a local community center.  Their flickr account has some amazing shots from this terrible fire.

As we say with most potential emergencies, “Don’t be Scared – Be Prepared!”  If you’re prepared, evacuating for a wildfire can be a little bit easier on you and your family.  A little piece of mind can go a long way.  Check out our Wildfire Preparedness Guide.

I caught a bit of the news yesterday afternoon, and a firefighter was talking about the importance of clearing a 30-50 foot safety zone around your home if you live in a fire prone area.  He said that in most cases, if houses don’t have this clearance they are impossible to protect… so make sure you have a safe clearance!  It can really make a difference.

2009 Hero Award Winners!

I am so excited to announce our 2009 Hero Award Winners!  We can’t fit the whole story on our blog – so if you’d like to join us at or 2009 Heroes Breakfast – give us a call! 462-2881


Animal Rescue Heroes

Krista Locatelli, Mary Sullivan-White, Lyn Hood and Todd Stosuy

Together, these heroes saved over 900 animals during the Summit, Martin and Trabing Fires of 2008


Youth Hero:

Jeff Kyrnitszke

Jeff saved the life of a classmate who was choking by performing the Heimlich maneuver.


Workplace Hero:

Enrique Rosas

Enrique saved the life of a coworker who had an epileptic seizure in the fields.


Law Enforcement Heroes

Officer Christian Thompson, Officer Guillermo Vazquez and CSO Jesus Tony Mendoza

The three officers helped save the life of a young woman who overdosed on prescription medication.


Rescue Professional Hero

Michael G. Kretsch

Firefighter and Paramedic Michael G. Kretsch responded to several life threatening emergencies in his career. In January of 2008, he saved the life of an 86 year old woman who was caught in a home fire.


Good Samaritan Hero

Wilma Field

Wilma helped save the life of a young boy who had fallen into the San Lorenzo River.


Medical Professional Hero

Dr. Diane Bridgeman

Diane established and maintains the Mental Health Disaster Response Team at the Santa Cruz County Red Cross.


Education Hero

Carmelita Austin-Scherer

After surviving cancer, Carmelita founded the African American Community Health Group of the Central Coast – an organization that provides health information to the often undeserved African American population of the Central Coast.


Military Hero

Maurice “Rick” Ricketts

Maurice is an 86 year old Navy veteran of WWII. He’s been an active member of the VFW since 1979 and has kept the HAM radio station alive since then.


Lifetime Achievement

Terry Medina

Terry Medina has been in the Santa Cruz Law Enforcement community since 1966. During his tenure, Terry has worked to develop outreach programs to improve the quality of public safety. Terry has been a leader in developing proactive programs that help prevent and deter potential offenders and prevent criminal acts before they occur. Terry will be retiring December 2009.


Eleanor Wasson Award for Excellence in Public Service

Wayne Shaffer

Wayne Shaffer is the founder and Board President of Siena House Maternity Home, a safe place for women with crisis pregnancy to stay and learn the skills they need to be successful.