American Red Cross, a Forward Thinking Organization
The American Red Cross has been around for more than a century, but many people are unaware of the various ways the nonprofit organization helps individuals every day in communities across the nation and around the world. In New Jersey, the American Red Cross is split into two regions, north and south. The Jersey Coast Chapter, located in Tinton Falls, serves all of Ocean and Monmouth counties.
The local coalition does more than collect blood donations and partake in the Rock ’N Ride Bike Tour, held every year on Long Beach Island for the past 15 years.
“The Red Cross was newly broken up into different chapters throughout the state so we can better streamline our services and consolidate our resources,” said Laura Steinmetz, community/government relations officer of the American Red Cross South Jersey Region. “It actually makes it much easier for us to respond to disasters. We know everything that’s at every warehouse; we know who can go where. We have our cots, we have our trailers set up, everything,” she explained.
“Part of this is for presence. We want the communities to know that we’re there, because we are. We have the same reach, the same amount of services that we can offer them, whether there’s a full chapter there or there’s a satellite office. We want to make sure that the community is aware of that,” she added, while also mentioning that the closest satellite office near LBI is located in Toms River, which is primarily used by people seeking helpful information.
According to officials, the Jersey Coast Chapter trains 45,000 people in life-saving skills and responds to approximately 300 disasters each year, ranging from home fires that affect a single family to hurricanes that shake an entire population. The local chapter also helps senior citizens living in the area prepare for crises at home, and empowers kids in becoming role models among their peers, through its Youth Council. The chapter even works in cooperation with the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, where more than 77,000 troops have been organized for service for the Global War on Terror since October 2001.
“The American Red Cross is a very forward-thinking organization,” said Ellen Korpar, disaster coordinator of the American Red Cross Jersey Coast Chapter. “We even have apps now for your phone, like the hurricane preparedness app, which can help save your life or someone else’s.”
In June, the American Red Cross launched its First Aid App, the first in a series of apps focused on putting simple, lifesaving information at the fingertips of smart phone consumers. The app gives immediate access to information on how to deal with the most common first aid circumstances and incorporates videos and interactive quizzes. Safety and preparedness tips are offered for a range of conditions, including severe winter weather, hurricanes, earthquakes and tornadoes.
The Hurricane App, launched Aug. 1, gives up-to-date, location-based weather alerts, provided by NOAA, for the United States and its surrounding regions. Information regarding open Red Cross shelters and remote monitoring of personalized weather alerts where family and friends reside is also available.
The Shelter Finder App specifically maps shelters across the United States using the National Shelter System, which includes information about 60,000 prospective disaster facilities and chronicles housing information during disasters. Users may search open shelters by address, city, state and/or ZIP Code, and can survey shelter details, such as the agency managing the lodging, its proposed capacity and current population, its exact location and the associated disaster. Users may even read about the disaster through the Disaster Online Newsroom, which is updated every 30 minutes.
The Earthquake App, launched just a week ago, notifies users when an earthquake occurs and gives detailed instructions on what to do before, during and after the tremors. It also provides instructions on how to prepare an emergency kit in case of a power outage or evacuation, as well as what to do about food and water when an area is impeded by floods.
“It’s amazing what these apps can do. You never know what kind of emergency situation you’ll find yourself in, but most people always have their phone on them, and the downloadable apps can actually help save someone’s life,” said Steinmetz.
The free apps are available for both iPhone and Android platforms. Simple steps and checklists, a 9-1-1 call button, pre-loaded content regarding necessary action plans, a flashlight, strobe light and audible alarm, as well as a one-touch “I’m safe” message are provided with most of the apps and can be shared via social media networks, even without data connectivity.
The mobile applications can help prepare people for emergencies, but they are not a substitute for training. Visit redcross.org/takeaclass for course material and to register. For more information about the Jersey Coast Chapter, visit redcross.org/nj/tinton-falls.
— Kelley Anne Essinger