Las Vegas Sun

March 21, 2019

Currently: 59° — Complete forecast

GUEST COLUMN:

Volunteers are critical to the mission of the Red Cross

To prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors. — Mission, American Red Cross

March is Red Cross Month, spotlighting one of the oldest continuously serving organizations in our community.

For 102 years, the American Red Cross has served our community by providing first-aid, CPR and other training programs, disaster services and service to the armed forces. In addition, the organization has supplied 70 percent of the blood supply for Las Vegas and Southern Nevada.

Ninety percent of this is provided through the commitment and dedication of volunteers. In fact, more than 1,110 Red Cross volunteers regionally donated 55,500 hours of service last year. Nationwide, 330,000 volunteers and staff are united by the values of compassion, collaboration, creativity, credibility and commitment.

While the Red Cross is best known for relief in times of disaster — with the organization providing 324 days of continuous shelter to 43,000 of our friends and neighbors across the country last year — it is focused, like never before, on prevention.

For example, ReadyRating.org is a free, web-based program to help small-to medium-sized businesses, schools and other organizations prepare for emergencies.

Ready Rating program members complete a confidential assessment of their readiness level for emergencies and receive immediate, customized feedback with tips and resources improve their scores. Ready Rating helps enrollees develop an emergency response plan to help their employees know their roles in the first 24 to 72 hours of an emergency.

From there, a “Next Steps” report recommends specific actions that members should take and the level of effort required to execute them. The program also offers a resource center that includes preparedness tools, including activities and exercises, so businesses, employees and students can develop and practice preparedness plans. 

Because fires are the No. 1 cause of injury and death at home, Red Cross volunteers in late April and early May will install hundreds of smoke alarms in Las Vegas neighborhoods April 27, inHenderson on May 4 and in Mesquite on May 11. The “Sound the Alarm” home fire safety initiative is part of a national effort to save lives and alleviate suffering.

Here are a few ways you can help:

• Donate blood. Only 3 percent of the U.S. population donates blood regularly. Blood — the gift of life — is in critical demand partly because of disasters that have stressed the supply and decreased donors. One unit of blood can save up to three lives.

• Register for ReadyRating.org if you lead a business, school, church or community organization.

• Become a Red Cross volunteer for “Sound the Alarm” or any of our other mission areas at redcross.org.

• Enroll for Red Cross first aid, CPR and other classes at redcross.org. We never know when we will be called upon to help someone in need.

The Red Cross is mission driven and community focused.

It is volunteer fueled, and volunteer inspired.

It is a force multiplier.

It is a force for good.

Clark Dumont is chair of the Red Cross of Southern Nevada. Alan Diskin is the organization’s executive director.