National First Aid Day

Communications Intern, Megan Ball

About three months ago, I was at work, behind the bar, helping the bartender catch-up. It was a Sunday afternoon, the bar was pretty crowded, and with the crowd came a lot of noise. Suddenly, one of the servers screamed to me, “Megan! That guy is choking!” I froze. Running through my head was the size difference between me and the man on the opposite side of the bar. What was he choking on? What was I going to do? I wasn’t sure. I learned the Heimlich (now the Abdominal Thrust), when I went through the American Red Cross’ Babysitting Programs. Unfortunately, I didn’t keep up on it. The managers all wear headsets, so I started screaming into my headset for the other managers to get to the bar. It felt like minutes, but I am sure it was only seconds. I came around the bar and the man’s friend did an Abdominal Thrust once. The guy gasped for a breath of air, and suddenly couldn’t breathe. The server, who had screamed for me, is suddenly screaming “Do it again! Do it again!” and so he did. This time, it worked. Had I been more prepared, I could’ve helped the man much more quickly. As I replay the story in my head, my heart races. In the face of danger, I was so slow to move into action. Therefore, I’m taking a pledge to get retrained!

National First Aid Day is September 13th, the second Saturday in September.
The American Red Cross offers courses that will help to train and provide the knowledge should anyone ever be nearby in the face of a situation like mine. Classes include Babysitter’s Training, CRP/AED Training, First Aid/CPR/AED Training, and Adult and/or Pediatric CPR courses.

Classes that are coming soon:
Adult CPR/AED Monday September 16th from 6-7:30 PM in West Bend
Advanced Child Care Training with Pediatric First Aid/CPR/AED Friday September 19th from 8:30 AM – 3:30 PM in Milwaukee
Babysitter’s Training Saturday September 20th from 8:30 AM – 4 PM in Pewaukee
Adult and Pediatric First Aid/CPR/AED Wednesday September 24th from 9 – 11 AM in Milwaukee
Adult and Pediatric CPR/AED Wednesday September 24th 9 – 10:30 AM in Milwaukee


To find classes near you visit


You can also download the American Red Cross First Aid App for your cellphone!



September is National Preparedness Month

The American Red Cross has made it easier for families to develop an emergency plan! Would you be ready for the next emergency or disaster?  

Things can happen very quickly and sometimes there are only minutes to react. Planning ahead can help keep households safe. Having an emergency plan helps families be prepared for an emergency or large-scale disaster. You can visit the Preparedness section of to learn what steps your family can take when emergencies strike. You can also visit our information booth at the following community events.

  • 9/13 Menomonee Falls Safety Fair
  • 9/13 Porcaro Ford Safety Day Celebration
  • 9/19 Bruce Elementary School Family Fest
  • 9/20 Kenosha County Safety Fair   
  • 9/25 Resource Fair at VA – Zablocki Medical Center       
  • 9/27 St. Marcus School Health Fair           
  • 9/27 Harley Davidson Wellness Rally
  • 10/4 Safety Days Celebration – Wauwatosa Home Depot
  • 10/4 Germantown Safety Fair
  • 10/30 Miller Coors Employee Health and Safety Fair       

In the meantime, please take a few minutes to download our free RED CROSS APPS. Use the ‘Make a Plan’ feature in the apps to create an emergency plan and then share it with loved ones. The apps can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store for Android by searching for ‘American Red Cross’. A Family Disaster Plan Template is also available for download to help make or update the plan.

Multiple Fire Survivor

“If it hadn’t been for the Red Cross, I would have been homeless – twice!” Henry Cole, a survivor with a heart made large by his boundless compassion for the suffering of others, expressed his gratitude, even after he fled his burning apartment building for the second time in his life.
“Thankfully, the West Tamarack Apartment Building’s fire alarms were fully functional. Many times, people pull the alarms as a prank, so I had decided to leave my apartment only when the fire department knocks on my door.”—The knock came.—“The door opened and water rushed in like Niagara Falls! A fire fighter grabbed my arm and out we went. ‘Not again,’ I said out loud. With a pacemaker, diabetes, going blind and just starting chemotherapy, this is such a stressful time.” But the Red Cross Disaster Action Team was on the scene, providing emergency lodging, food and emotional support for Henry and the other residents. “Being helped by the Red Cross, gives joy to my heart.”

Three years ago, Henry was renting a room at 18th & State. He heard screaming from across the hallway. “I opened my door and saw my neighbor lady on fire from head-to-toe. I ran for water while her boyfriend wrapped her in a blanket. I’ll never forget the image of her crisp skin. I could see in to her white bones. She passed away at the hospital a few days later,” Henry recalls with tears still in his eyes. “The Red Cross helped me through that tough time and with a place to stay, and money for food and clothing.”

When fire broke out at the 38-unit apartment building at 2025 W. Tamarack Street, Milwaukee, the building’s sprinkler system activated. There were no personal injuries, but nearly 20 people were displaced for more than a week. Many of the residents had functional needs, requiring additional assistance from health care professionals for their well-being. For Henry, the shelter became a tight-knit family, as he shares his golden smile and appreciation for the Red Cross team.


Want to join the caring & compassionate Red Cross team? Go to to get started.

To help ensure your safety, please visit

Introducing Mary Roche, Disaster Action Team Member

“It’s so fun to be in the field working…I just love the diversity of American Red Cross people!!!  We come from all walks and stations of life to help people in need,” shares Mary.

However, I’m the “Staff Services” person who gets disaster workers ‘deployed’ when national disasters are happening. In August, we are typically busy deploying people to hurricane areas but without a tropical storm in site, I was able to ‘deploy’ for a local fire! I worked two shelter shifts with many of the members I frequently call for national assignments. Many times, I’m just a ‘voice’ but now they know me by face! The Tamarack Apartment fire displaced 11 people for an extended time.

Barb Huber and I from the Dodge County Disaster Action Team drove to Milwaukee for our first shift on Monday. The clients (what we call people displaced by disasters) and Red Cross staff were in one large room with a few privacy partitions. A week later, I returned to a different shelter site for what was the final day of this shelter operation. This shelter had multiple rooms and clients had more private rooms. Most of the clients, all disabled, remembered me! Bobbie’s hair, a big concern at the first shelter, had been styled and looked great. Henry spent much of the morning calling his insurance provider to obtain renter’s insurance. He was successful and very pleased with coverage provided. The first payment was made from the shelter. The clients had a 1:00p.m. meeting with the Tamarack Apartment managers and we attended too as their next steps to recovery were set in motion. The apartment managers thanked all of us Red Cross workers! They truly appreciated our keeping their residents safe and secure while they developed a more permanent residential plan until the apartments are restored.

Overall, our Red Cross community came together to staff three different shelters for ten days. The Staff Services ‘call-down team’ consists of Nancy Johnson, Jane Lazarevic, Melinda Wall-Piraino and me. With multiple fires and growing number of people needing help, Nancy took the lead on watching National Deployments opportunities i.e. flooding in Detroit. So locally, Jane was the Lead Recruiter and I was her co-worker. Our main task was to find trained shelter workers; a Supervisor and two Service Associates for three shifts. Other Group Leaders worked the phones to staff the Feeding, Mental Health, Health Services, Logistics, Public Affairs and more. It takes many skills to fill the needs of our community.



It was such a good feeling to see how our Red Cross team works together as a unit to serve clients. Disasters are awful for anyone but this was a very special group and we came together big time! My best take away is that I placed faces to all those names I call. And, will call again.

If you would like start volunteering for the American Red Cross start your journey here!

A Real Life Saver!

This year marks 100 years that the American Red Cross has been teaching water safety, swim lessons and lifeguard training to people of all ages.  Today, Red Cross water safety classes include a multi-part Learn to Swim Course, Parent and Child Aquatics, Safety Training for Swim Coaches and more—plus a 2-year certification in lifeguarding that includes first aid, CPR and AED training as well. Red Cross water safety courses help save lives! To learn more visit

Sometimes in life, experiences in our childhood have a direct and profound effect on our life. This is the case for Curtis Momsen, our statewide Aquatic Specialist. Growing-up on Nagawicka Lake, in Hartland, Wisconsin he learned the joys and heartbreak water can provide.  He was on top of the world as a competitive water skier – earning statewide and national acclaim – and as a lifeguard. His fondness for the water was driven by the fun and excitement it can provide. As a career, he is also driven by a painful experience when his neighbor drowned and he helped the dive team recover the body.  For the past several years, he was the Senior Aquatic/Facility Operations Director at the Milwaukee YMCA as well as being a certified Lifeguard Training Instructor.  With his new role in the American Red Cross, and providing support to the entire State of Wisconsin, he is working with community pools, Parks & Recreation Department and YMCA’s to name a few. Where there is water, he has an interest in ensuring the best aquatic programs are taught!

WTMJ Mike Jacobs.Curtis.barbara.Meekins

When he’s not at work, he is teaching his kids how to swim & he leads the USA Triathlon life-guarding team so sprint & Olympic athletes remain safe!

Click here to check out Curtis’ USA Triathlon life-guarding team!

Near Tragedy Strengthens Cross Family

For the Cross family, a few hours at the Riverside High School Pool each week provides water safety skills for sisters Taylor (12) and Arlena (11) Cross. While mother Tasha Cross sat on the stadium benches, she shared how important swimming lessons are. “I don’t want my girls to miss out on life – from pool parties, to trips to a lake. I want them to be safe. Safe, like I’ve never felt!” she explained.

While living in North Carolina a few years earlier, the backyard pool should have been relaxing and peaceful. But instead, she notes, “I was afraid of the water; we wore life-jackets all the time, even when it was 100°.”

In 2010, while in a Florida resorts’ extremely large pool, the girls were swimming, splashing and having fun, while drifting in to the deep end. All the while they were getting farther and farther away and one went under the water and did not surface. When trying to help, the second girl was pulled under by the first. A swimmer close-by pulled them up. They were so scared! Yet didn’t tell any adults what happened! At the annual school physical a week later, they complained of ear aches. The doctor explained their type of injury is from rapid submersion. The girls broke down crying. It was then — their near-drowning experience — was heard.

“We were so close to a terrible ending and I don’t want them to be afraid of the water like their mother,” she concluded. So each week, they travel to the Riverside High School pool for lessons. Throughout the 8-session course, the girls are growing more confident in the water, swim strokes are turning their slender bodies into water machines and their initial fear is growing into love of water.



Every day an average of 10 people die in the U.S. from unintentional drowning – with 20 percent of them 14 years old or younger, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nationally, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death for children and sixth for people of all ages. In addition, for every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries.

Red Cross swimming lessons help people develop skills and water safety behaviors that help people be more comfortable and safe when they are in, on and around the water. The Red Cross encourages all household members to enroll in age-appropriate water orientation and Learn-to-Swim programs. To find classes for your family, contact your local aquatic facility and ask for American Red Cross swimming and water safety programs.

Story written by Barbara Behling

Emotional Health After A Disaster

By: Courtney McIntosh, Communications Intern

Many things need to be addressed and taken care of after a disaster has stricken you and/or your loved ones.  American Red Cross teams go into the community after a disaster and asses the immediate needs in the community such as: shelter, food, and clothing.  In addition, the teams asses the need for emotional coping and the state of emotional health. The Red Cross Mental Health Teams Help People Cope During Disaster.




A disaster can and very well may bring on significant stress. There are stages of dealing with and handling the stress and emotions that come with disaster. The feelings you may be experiencing immediately after an event:

  • the feeling of being physically and emotional drained
  • difficultly making decisions
  • maintaing focus
  • become frustrated easily or become irritated more frequently
  • arguing more than normal with family and friends
  • feeling tired, sad, numb, lonely or anxious
  • changes in appetite and/or sleep patterns

Although most of these reactions are temporary, they are still something to take notice of and acknowledge.

After acknowledging these emotions, take these steps to get yourself and your life back on track:

  • safety: this not only involves your mental health but also your physical health. seek medical attention if required
  • eat: it is important to maintain a healthy intake of water and food when stress is at an all time high
  • rest: with all of the stress and things to worry about, it may be hard to find time for proper rest but it is incredibly important to give your brain and body a break
  • stay connected: receiving support from friends and family is one of the most important and rewarding things you can give yourself during a time that is incredibly stressful
  • be patient with yourself and others: acknowledge the fact that everyone will handle a disaster differently, each person will go at their own speed in putting their thoughts and emotions in order
  • set priorities: tackle tasks in small steps; do not overwhelm yourself
  • gather information: assistance and resources are available for you regarding your disaster-related needs
  • stay positive: recognize that you went through a difficult event and that you can and will get through this. Reach out to family, friends, or to professionals if needed

Typically, people that experience a stressful life event eventually feel better within two weeks or so. However, if you find yourself or a loved one still experiencing any of the following feelings or reactions after a few weeks, it may be time to seek further assistance:

  • crying spells
  • outbursts of anger
  • difficulty sleeping/eating
  • loss in interest to things that were previously enjoyed
  • increase in physically pain such as headaches and/or stomach aches
  • fatigue
  • feeling irritable or anxious
  • the feeling of guilt, helplessness, or hopelessness
  • avoiding friends and family

The good news is that you are not alone with these feelings or reactions; Many people have experienced and are successfully coping with stressful and traumatic events.

If you are need of help or assistance, The Red Cross is there for you. Please visit for more information and resources.


If you or someone you know is feeling that their life is not worth living or if thoughts of harming yourself or others are occurring please seek immediate help. You can contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or


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