Dunkin’ and Red Cross Team Up to Encourage Blood and Platelet Donations This August

Jessica Weissman (left), field marketing manager, Dunkin’ Brands, presents an oversized voucher for a free medium Iced Coffee and Classic Donut to Rosie Taravella (center), CEO, Red Cross New Jersey Region, and Helen Munizza (right), regional donor services executive, Red Cross Penn Jersey Blood Services Region.

By Dave Skutnik

Local blood donors are in for a sweet treat this August. Dunkin’ of Greater Philadelphia is once again teaming up with the American Red Cross to provide 24,500 vouchers to American Red Cross blood donors in the region during August.

To thank donors who help refuel the blood supply throughout August, presenting donors will receive a voucher for a free Medium Iced Coffee and a free Classic Donut, redeemable at participating Dunkin’ restaurants in the Greater Philadelphia area, while supplies last. Vouchers are not redeemable for cash.

The American Red Cross continues to experience a severe blood shortage and donors of all blood types – especially type O and those giving platelets – are urged to make an appointment to give now.  

Right now, the Red Cross needs to collect more than 1,000 additional blood donations each day to meet current demand as hospitals respond to an unusually high number of traumas and emergency room visits, organ transplants and elective surgeries.

“We are thrilled to continue our partnership with Dunkin’ and encourage donors to give to help with the severe blood shortage,” said Rosie Taravella, CEO, American Red Cross of New Jersey. “As you finalize your plans for the summer, make a blood or platelet donation appointment part of them and receive this special gift from Dunkin’.”

Donors who give now will help stock the shelves for the rest of the summer season. Schedule an appointment to give blood or platelets by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

“Dunkin’ is thrilled to once again team up with the American Red Cross to reward deserving blood donors this August who are helping the community in this critical time of need,” said Jessica Weissman, Field Marketing Manager, Dunkin’. “We hope that by providing donors with a free Medium Iced Coffee and Classic Donut, Dunkin’ will encourage the Philadelphia community to stop by a donation center and roll up a sleeve to help save lives.”

To learn more about Dunkin’, visit www.DunkinDonuts.com or follow Dunkin’ on Facebook at @DunkinUS or Twitter at @DunkinDonuts.

Red Cross responds after a tornado tears through Lower Bucks County

By Dave Skutnik and Alana Mauger

Trained Red Cross disaster workers conduct damage assessment in Bensalem Township on July 30.

It’s been a July to forget in Lower Bucks County, with a violent tornado striking just two weeks after a devastating flash flood.

The tornado struck Bensalem Township just after 7 p.m. Thursday, July 29, crossing six lanes of the Pennsylvania Turnpike at the tail end of rush hour before moving on to destroy several commercial buildings, causing several injuries. Fortunately, everyone is expected to be okay.

Several homes suffered severe damage when a tornado tore through Bensalem Township Thursday.

The tornado then continued tearing a path through a residential area, including at least two mobile home parks where several homes were destroyed. Thankfully, nobody was seriously hurt.

Part of a Pennsylvania Turnpike sign landed in a back yard in Bensalem Township.

The Red Cross was on the ground within minutes after the storm, first opening a temporary evacuation center at Neshaminy Mall and then an overnight shelter at Neshaminy High School. There, residents had a safe, dry place to stay as well as the ability to charge devices, and grab snacks and water.

Trained Red Cross disaster volunteers operate a temporary evacuation center at Neshaminy Mall on July 29.

One resident from Penn Valley Terrace who came by the shelter Friday described her family’s harrowing experience.

“The power went out, and it was pouring. Then, it got quiet, almost beautiful out. The next minute, we heard what sounded like a freight train and everything was flying in the air,” she described, noting how one corner of her trailer “lifted up” before slamming back down with a “big boom.” “We can now see the turnpike,” she said. “There are no trees.”

Four people spent the night at the Red Cross shelter at Neshaminy High School, with others stopping in to get out of the heat, charge their phones and pick up water and snacks.

According to the National Weather Service, this tornado was the strongest in Pennsylvania since 2004 and the strongest ever recorded in Bucks County. Records date back to 1950.

Red Cross teams were out assessing damage the day after the storm, working with our government partners and displaced residents to determine what kind of help is needed.

Trained Red Cross disaster workers conduct damage assessment in Bensalem Township on July 30.

The tornado comes on the heels of a flooding event on July 12 that left hundreds of homes with water damage. The Red Cross spent the past two-plus weeks helping residents affected by that storm.

It is work that will continue in the days and weeks ahead, providing much-needed comfort and hope to storm-weary residents.

Red Cross disaster workers unpack supplies at Neshaminy High School on Thursday night.

Jennie Dillon Heneks: Not All Heroes Wear Capes

By Nancy Degnan

Pictured: Jennie Dillion Heneks and her son Des.

Jennie Dillion Heneks’s superpower is giving the gift of life through blood donations.

Jennie was inspired to become a blood donor with the American Red Cross after her son, Des, became ill with Kawasaki disease (KD). He needed an immediate blood treatment, and Jennie gained a new appreciation for blood donors as she watched her 4-year-old son receive the intravenous immune globulin (IVIG) that would help him recover.

Jennie and Des want to create awareness around recognizing the onset of KD, the importance of quick intervention, and the lifesaving value of blood. KD is a rare condition that mainly affects children; it causes swelling in the walls of medium-sized arteries throughout the body. The inflammation tends to affect the coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart muscle. When Jennie initially brought her son to the emergency room, Des had a high fever and couldn’t walk due to foot pain and peeling on his toes. These are symptoms noted in the second phase of the disease. (In the third and final phase, signs and symptoms slowly subside.)

The good news is that most kids with KD recover completely, but early action is key. There’s a knowledge gap when it comes to diagnosing KD, and that can result in unnecessary delays. Within the 10-day window of the onset of the condition, parents are important advocates for their kids in dealing with health care providers. Symptoms to watch for: a fever that lasts three to four days, redness in both eyes, a very red and swollen tongue, redness of the palms or soles, skin peeling, a rash, and swollen lymph nodes.

As mentioned, recognizing the early signs—ideally during the first phase—is key. When KD is diagnosed and treated within the first 10 days, there’s a better chance of full recovery without residual problems. The longer the symptoms progress, the higher the likelihood of long-term damage and the need for ongoing treatments.

Pictured: Des Heneks today, living a full life thanks to the blood treatment he received when he was four years old.

Jennie is thankful that the on-call doctor at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia was a cardiologist familiar with KD. Thanks to the rapid diagnosis, Des was treated with one IVIG treatment over the course of 36 hours and observed in the ICU for the next seven days to ensure his recovery.

Today, Des is a healthy 13-year-old with a black belt in karate. He is living a full life, thanks to the blood treatment he received at age 4.

Jennie and Des are heroes with heart. Jennie is giving life by giving blood, and with the help of her son, she is creating awareness of the symptoms associated with KD. By helping parents and doctors recognize the early warning signs, she hopes young patients with KD can recover quickly and keep sharing their smiles!

Red Cross recovery operation continues after Bucks County, Northeast Philadelphia flooding

By Alana Mauger

Red Cross disaster workers prepare for the first day of the Multi-Agency Resource Center in Croydon, Bucks County.

Eleven days after a severe storm dumped 10 inches of rain on parts of Lower Bucks County and Northeast Philadelphia, resulting in a 100-year flooding event, the American Red Cross remains focused on the recovery of residents impacted by water damage.

To date, more than 80 trained Red Cross disaster workers assisted nearly 500 people – opening more than 180 cases, offering health and emotional services to more than 300 people, distributing over 1,000 relief supplies and serving more than 1,500 snacks.

Trained Red Cross disaster workers assist Bucks County residents at the MARC on July 20.

Many of those services were provided in person for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.  After the storm, Red Cross disaster workers staffed an overnight evacuation center at Snyder Middle School in Bensalem on July 12, followed by a three-day community resource center July 13-15 at the Maltese Room behind Cornwells Fire Company in Bensalem. Volunteers also participated in an information and resource center operated by the Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management at the Chalfont Recreation Center on July 15 and 17.

Red Cross volunteers participate in the information and resource center operated by the Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management on July 17.

On July 16, Red Cross Regional CEO Guy Triano toured impacted communities in Bristol Township with Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and Bucks County officials, leading to the opening of a Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC) July 20-21 at Keystone Elementary School in Croydon. More than 20 government and community agencies, including the Red Cross, served approximately 400 families.  

Red Cross Regional CEO Guy Triano talks with Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf as they tour flooded areas in Bristol Township July 16.

Collaboration is key in helping communities recover from a disaster. Red Cross disaster mental health volunteer Merrie Eisenstadt made it a point to visit each agency on the first day of the MARC to learn about their services so that she could make better referrals to clients, especially since this was her first disaster deployment. That knowledge was put to good use. A licensed clinical professional counselor (LCPC), Merrie noticed a woman in the middle of the cafeteria who appeared “frozen.”

“When I asked if I could help, she started crying,” Merrie shared.

The woman spoke Mandarin, with little ability to communicate in English. Together with Ceena Jenkins from the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, Merrie helped secure translation services by phone.

“I learned that she had been living in her car because she can’t live in her home. As soon as I heard that, I had to help,” said Merrie. “I didn’t want her to feel like she was just a number.”

Red Cross disaster mental health volunteer Merrie Eisenstadt speaks with residents at the MARC on July 21.

Merrie spent close to two hours with the woman, walking her from table to table to fill out assistance applications with the help of the translation service.

“That’s the advantage of a multi-agency center; each works in cooperation with the other,” she said.

The woman Merrie assisted was just one of her 49 client interactions that day.

“Greeting people waiting in line, listening to their stories, showing empathy – it’s the most important thing we can do in this situation,” she said.

In addition to the agencies providing assistance at the MARC, the community at large also stepped up. Parx Casino, located in Bensalem, only a couple miles from where some of the most significant damage occurred, donated $75,000 to American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Because of this kind of support, the Red Cross can help communities prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters big and small.

Parx Casino presents a $75,000 check to American Red Cross disaster relief.

And when Red Cross disaster volunteers Steve Thomas and Larry Daly went to pick up additional snacks at Sam’s Club in Willow Grove for clients on the second day of the MARC, store manager Patrick generously donated the $140 purchase.

Sam’s Club in Willow Grove donates snacks to the Red Cross for residents at the MARC.

Another example is the Salvation Army of Eastern Pennsylvania, which worked with the Red Cross since the third day of the response to provide impacted residents with meals and snacks, as well as additional clean-up kits and other services.

As the Red Cross transitions from the response to the recovery phase for this disaster, recovery specialists will continue to work with impacted families to plan next steps and connect them with organizations that specialize in solving problems and meeting their specific needs.

The vital work of the Red Cross is made possible by volunteers who contribute their unique backgrounds, talents and skills. To find a volunteer opportunity, visit redcross.org/volunteer.

Red Cross disaster volunteers Steve Thomas and Larry Daly hand out clean-up kits at the MARC.

Red Cross, Wawa Participate in 24/7 Day to Thank Volunteers

By Dave Skutnik

Wawa is partnering with the American Red Cross to celebrate local heroes and joining other convenience retailers across the country to celebrate 24/7 Day. Held every July 24, 24/7 Day recognizes first responders, medical personnel and American Red Cross volunteers who work around the clock, 24/7, serving communities to ensure people don’t face emergencies alone.

The annual event, hosted by the NACS Foundation, helps raise awareness and donations for the urgent humanitarian needs of the Red Cross and spotlights the convenience store industry’s important role in supporting local heroes in the communities they serve. 

Check presentation from The Wawa Foundation for its 2021 in-store customer fundraising campaign and direct grants that support disaster relief efforts across its operating chain of six states (PA, NJ, DE, MD, VA, FL and Washington, D.C.). Photo by Dave Skutnik

Annually, Wawa takes an opportunity to spotlight annual fundraising results of Wawa and The Wawa Foundation for the American Red Cross, as well as celebrate their volunteers who serve our communities. 

“We’re delighted to participate again in the third annual 24/7 Day that unites our industry to recognize everyday heroes working around the clock to help our community, said Brian Schaller, Chief Real Estate and Fuel Officer, Wawa and Board Member, American Red Cross. We recognize that American Red Cross volunteers are needed more than ever and we remain committed to supporting our partners as they tirelessly help our friends and neighbors when they need them most.” 

“The Red Cross responds to more than 60,000 disasters every year. Wawa’s year-round support of the Red Cross helps communities prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters,” said Guy Triano, CEO for the American Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania. “Volunteers are the lifeblood of the Red Cross. 90% of our workforce is volunteers and we’re thankful that Wawa and the NACS Foundation are helping to recognize these heroes in our communities.”

Presentation of Free Coffee and Donut coupons to American Red Cross volunteers to represent donation of 16,000 Free Coffee Coupons and 16,000 Free Donut coupons across its chain to express gratitude for everything they do for our community. Photo by Dave Skutnik

Get the facts about tattoos & blood donation

By Alana Mauger

Got ink? I do. So does nearly half of the U.S. adult population. That’s a lot of people. So it’s a good thing that having a tattoo (or nine, in my case) DOES NOT disqualify us from donating lifesaving blood to the American Red Cross.

In states that don’t regulate tattoo facilities, like Pennsylvania, you need to wait three months after getting ink before you can donate blood. Why? While all blood donations are screened for Hepatitis B and C with several tests, there may be a period of time before the viruses can be properly detected. In addition to Pennsylvania, this applies to other unregulated states, including Georgia, Idaho, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Utah and Wyoming, as well as the District of Columbia.

But there’s good news. Three months isn’t very long; in fact, the FDA reduced the waiting period from 12 to three months in June 2020.  And there’s NO wait time between getting ink and giving blood in other states as long as your tattoo is applied a state-regulated facility using sterile needles and ink that is not reused.

More into piercings? You’re not alone; 61% of the adult U.S. population has a piercing, with earlobe and ear cartilage being the most common. You should wait three months to donate blood after getting a piercing if it was performed with a reusable gun or other reusable instrument or if you don’t know whether or not the instrument was single use. (Note: Even though the equipment is sterilized and single-use jewelry is inserted, ear-piercing guns used at many retail stores are considered reusable.)

Here’s another stat – only 3% of age-eligible blood donors give blood each year. Arms – inked or not – are sorely needed right now to help the Red Cross recover from a severe blood shortage. You can help by scheduling an appointment to give blood or platelets. Download the free Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS to get started.   

Red Cross assists families impacted by flooding in Lower Bucks County, Northeast Philadelphia

By Alana Mauger

Lafayette Gardens condominium complex in Bensalem sustained significant damage during Monday’s flash flood.

On July 12, residents in Lower Bucks County and Northeast Philadelphia experienced what the National Weather Service is now describing as a 100-year flood. Up to 10 inches of rain fell over four hours late Monday afternoon/early evening, closing major roads, flooding homes and prompting water rescues throughout the region.

Volunteer Mass Care Lead Janice Thomas assists a client at Snyder Middle School overnight Monday.

Since Monday night, the American Red Cross has been on the ground assessing damage and providing disaster recovery assistance and emotional support to individuals and families. In the first 72 hours (from July 12-15), 51 trained Red Cross disaster workers provided 109 families (274 people) with emergency financial assistance for immediate needs, including temporary lodging; distributed 60 clean up kits and 109 comfort kits; and served 836 snacks.

The Red Cross operated an evacuation center at Snyder Middle School on Monday night and a community resource center Tuesday through Thursday at the Maltese Room behind Cornwells Fire Company in Bensalem, not far from the Lafayette Gardens condominium complex, which was entirely engulfed by flood water. Lafayette Gardens resident Jermaine Hoskins shared his harrowing water rescue story with caseworkers at the center.

Jermaine Hoskins was rescued from his Lafayette Gardens home by boat.

“Sitting in my living room, I heard what sounded like rushing water coming from behind the wall. I got up to check it out, opened the door and water came rushing in,” he said.

Closing the door immediately, Jermaine ran to his bedroom to find his shoes, a difficult feat with water rushing down the hallway and already pooling in the other rooms. By the time he was ready to leave, the water had risen over the electrical outlets, and he could not reopen the door.

“I climbed halfway out my window and saw the guy who lives above me doing the same and waving for help,” he said. “I thought I was going to die.”

Jermaine estimates that it took at least an hour before he and his neighbor were rescued by boat and bussed to the evacuation center. There, he met with a Red Cross caseworker and received financial assistance, which he used to book a hotel room and buy some dry clothes.

“Thank you for what you all do. Thank you for the Red Cross,” he said. “I don’t know what I’m going to do next, but I have a place to sleep tonight, so that’s a start.”

Red Cross caseworkers meet with residents at the community resource center on Thursday.

Across town, some residents of the Regency Apartment complex were forced to evacuate as water began to pool in their first-floor units. Four of them – Laverne Owens, Evelyn O’Rourke, Howard Stevenson and Lisa Vangine – banded together to carpool to the Red Cross community resource center and became fast friends.

Laverne, a home care professional who was babysitting her great nephew at the time, took charge and made sure everyone’s needs were met.

“After this, we’re all going to the laundromat to wash our wet things,” she said. “This here’s a family now. We have a long road ahead of us, but we’ll be okay.”

Regency apartment complex residents and new friends (from left) Lisa Vangine, Evelyn O’Rourke, Laverne Owens and Howard Stevenson.

All four were able to book hotel rooms for the night thanks to Red Cross assistance. And Laverne made sure that the hotel could accommodate Howard’s and Lisa’s cats and Lisa’s 10-year-old daughter, Ashley.

Evelyn, age 72, reflected on the experience. “I always see people on TV in Red Cross blankets, and I feel so bad for them,” she said, clutching her own blanket. “I never expected I would need it. You just don’t know until it happens to you.”

Bristol Township began pumping water out of a yard on Main Avenue in Croydon Thursday afternoon.

In nearby Croydon, landlord Patricia Ludlow and her son traveled from South Carolina to help tenants impacted by water damage at two of her properties on Main Avenue – including a single mom of three and eight women from a recovery house.

“The water is still coming in after four days!” she pointed out. “I try so hard to keep my tenants safe. I’ve been doing this for 30 years. I have just never seen anything like this before.”

Originally from Bristol Borough, Patricia partners with Good Friends Inc., a drug addiction treatment center in Morrisville, to operate two recovery houses in the area for men and women who have completed their treatment and are working to reintegrate back into society.

Red Cross disaster workers met Patricia while conducting damage assessments Thursday at her Main Avenue properties in follow up to several of her tenants applying for assistance.

“My tenants are wonderful. Thank you so much for helping them,” she said.

Patricia Ludlow looks on as trained Red Cross disaster workers evaluate water damage at one of her properties.

Down the street, Michah Wright was pumping water out of his family’s house on Thursday afternoon.

“I rented a generator and fans and have been pumping water since Tuesday,” he said, showing Red Cross disaster workers the place where rushing water broke his basement window and filled his house with 10 feet of water, submerging his family room, children’s playroom and his wife’s sewing workshop.

With no power or hot water, he’s grateful to the Red Cross for their support.

“When this is all over, I may even become a volunteer myself,” he said.

Michah Wright shows Red Cross disaster workers where rushing water broke through his basement window.

If you sustained water damage to your property and have not already received Red Cross assistance, please call 1-800-RED CROSS to open a case.

Flash Flooding 101

By Alana Mauger

Heat waves with high humidity. Thunderstorms with heavy rain. Flash flood warnings and watches. Rinse, repeat. It’s summer in Southeastern Pennsylvania, and the American Red Cross wants to help keep everyone safe from flash flooding.

According to the National Weather Service, flash flooding is most often caused by heavy rainfall from thunderstorms and can occur anywhere – along neighborhood streams and creeks as well as on city streets and highway underpasses. Flash flooding is especially dangerous because of how quickly it occurs. People are often caught off guard and may become trapped on roadways and in buildings by fast moving or rising water.

The Red Cross offers four common sense ways to make sure you’re prepared in the event of a flash flood:

  • Be Informed – Listen to local radio, NOAA radio or local television stations for the latest information and updates. Pay attention to weather conditions in your area and listen to the advice of local officials.
  • Be Educated – Know the difference between a flash flood watch and a flash flood warning. A flash flood watch means that a flood is possible in your area. A flash flood warning means flooding is already occurring or soon will be. If there’s a flash flood warning for your area, stay at or seek higher ground immediately and follow any evacuation orders.
  • Be Prepared – Check your emergency kit and replenish any missing items. Keep it nearby.
  • Be Safe – Turn around; don’t drown. NEVER drive through water. If you are caught on a flooded road and water is rising around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water. Also, stay away from flood water if you’re walking. Never cross a flowing stream where water is above your ankles. And of course, keep children and pets out of the water.

Visit the Flood Safety section of the Red Cross website to learn more or download the free Red Cross Emergency App from any app store.

Nine Ways to Safely Celebrate Independence Day, America’s Most Accident-Prone Holiday

By Marta Rusek (she/her)

Image description: A fireworks safety graphic from the American Red Cross featuring red, white, and blue colors. It reads: Do This, NOT That. Green checkmark emoji: Keep water nearby in case fireworks start a fire. Red x emoji: Don’t point fireworks at pets. Green checkmark emoji: Wear eye protection if you light a firework. Red x emoji: Never try relighting a dud.

I love Independence Day. For me, it’s the perfect day to sleep in, take a stroll over to Independence Hall, calculate how many years stand between me and my dream of celebrating the Tricentennial, and enjoy fireworks from a safe distance. For everyone else and their mother, it’s a celebration of American abundance and uninhibited fun, complete with grilling copious amounts of food, cannon-balling into the nearest pool, and setting off as many fireworks as possible, just as the Founding Fathers intended. 

Surprisingly, the Fourth of July is also the holiday whose festivities are most likely to cause an accident. Grill fires, swimming disasters, and mishandled fireworks can bring your highly-anticipated celebration to a grinding halt. Fortunately, the American Red Cross, our first and last resource for disaster prevention, is here to save us from ourselves this July 4th with the following helpful hints:

  • When it comes to grilling, take it outside. Never use a grill inside a camper, in a tent, inside your house, or any enclosed space. Fire from the grill can flare up unexpectedly and spread rapidly indoors.
  • Keep children and pets at a safe distance. Hot dogs are the only little doggies allowed near an active grill. Kids and fur babies are fast and can get into trouble in very little time, so make sure they are kept as far away from the grilling area.
  • Use proper grilling tools. Long-handled utensils designed to withstand high temperatures will not only craft the perfect Independence Day feast, they’ll also keep the fire from the grill at arm’s length.
  • Talk to your kids about water safety long before they take a dip. Safe swimming habits are learned, and the Red Cross makes it easy to teach kids from Kindergarten to sixth grade how to enjoy the water safely for life. Check out the Water Safety for Kids resource, and the main Water Safety page here.
  • Go on supervised swim adventures only. While it’s tempting to seek out a private spot where you and your family can swim without crowds in every direction, it’s safest to visit a designated swimming destination with lifeguards certified in CPR and first aid. If you’re swimming with small children or weak swimmers, make sure they wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved swim vest in the water.
  • After the fun is done, flip it over. Kiddie pools are a great way for little kids and the young at heart to keep cool on a hot day. You can prevent accidental drowning (yes, drowning can occur in shallow water) by draining the pool and flipping it upside down when you’re finished.
  • When it comes to celebrating with fireworks, follow the instructions and local regulations closely. Fireworks are fun, but unpredictable. Never give them to small children to play with, and never point them at a person, animal, building, car, or anything flammable. Read up on fireworks regulations in the Philadelphia area here
  • Keep a source of water nearby, in case the fireworks fun goes sideways. 
  • Light one firework at a time, and never try to relight a dud. Your loved ones (and your fingers) will thank you!

And one more tip – in the midst of the fireworks, food, and fun, remember that the COVID-19 pandemic is still going on. News of the Delta strain of the coronavirus is cause for caution, so keep your face masks handy, your hands clean, and stay home if you start to feel sick before the festivities. Celebrate safely this July 4th so we can commemorate the fourth anniversary of the Eagles’ Super Bowl victory in style —greased poles and all— in 2022! 

Image Description: A Black woman wearing a red and white American Red Cross baseball cap smiles at the camera. In the background are dark blue and red drawings of stars, swirls, and fireworks to celebrate July 4th.

Looking for an activity for the three-day weekend that will save lives? Give blood through the Red Cross!

As a thank-you, all those who come to give July 1-6 will receive a Red Cross embroidered hat, while supplies last. And, donors who come to give July 7-31 will receive a $10 Amazon.com Gift Card by email, plus a chance to win gas for a year (a $5,000 value). (Terms and conditions apply; visit rcblood.org/fuel).

Local heroes awarded Certificates of Merit for lifesaving efforts

By Alana Mauger

During a virtual ceremony on June 16, the American Red Cross awarded Certificates of Merit to Margaret Root and Dylan L’Heureux for extraordinary actions they took to save lives in emergency situations. The Certificate of Merit is the oldest and most prestigious Red Cross Lifesaving Award. It is signed by the President of the United States, who traditionally serves as the Honorary Chairman of the Red Cross.    

“These individuals are true heroes and stewards of the Red Cross mission, and we commend them for their willingness to help others in distress,” said Jennifer Graham, executive director, Red Cross Delaware Valley Chapter.

Margaret Root

The first Certificate of Merit was presented to Margaret (Meg) Root who came to the aid of a co-worker suffering from cardiac arrest on Jan. 9, 2020. She assessed that the victim was pulseless, apneic and extremely cyanotic. While Meg went to retrieve an AED, another employee administered CPR until she returned to the scene. Meg was able to revive the victim until EMS arrived.

Despite being a registered nurse and participating in CPR training for more than 30 years, Meg acknowledged this is the first time she had to use those skills in an emergency situation. 

“As a nurse, I feel it’s my call of duty to help; it’s just what I was supposed to do,” she said. “I was really fortunate to have the Red Cross training.”

As part of her employer’s first aid team, Meg and her colleagues received Red Cross Basic Life Support for Healthcare Providers training in 2019.

“It was quite an event,” Meg continued. “This person was unresponsive, and 20 minutes later, he was alive and talking. For the AED to talk me through it and for him to respond, it was really remarkable.”

Dylan L’Heureux

The second Certificate of Merit was presented to Dylan L’Heureux, who saved a woman from choking on Sept. 8, 2020. As she was getting out of her car in a Target parking lot, Nancy Lewis began choking on a large calcium pill she was trying to swallow. She saw Dylan sitting in his car, tapped on his window and put her hands on her throat in the universal sign for choking.

An experienced lifeguard, Dylan immediately sprang into action. He jumped out of his car and performed back blows and abdominal thrusts until Nancy could breathe again. He also stayed with her for 20-30 minutes until she was calm and able to breathe comfortably.

“That was my first experience as far as saving anybody,” Dylan shared, noting that the pool for which he is a lifeguard stresses prevention, and he hasn’t had to “go above and beyond” in the water.

“It was that realization that, wow, all the skills I’ve been training…this is what it was meant for. And just recognizing I know what I’m doing here was a very neat experience,” he said. “I’m so grateful to be put in that position where I could help someone else.”

Dylan is certified in Red Cross Lifeguarding with CPR/AED for Professional Rescuers and First Aid, among other training.

Lifesaving Awards program

The Red Cross Lifesaving Awards program is comprised of four awards. In addition to the Certificate of Merit, the Lifesaving Award for Professional Responders and Healthcare Professionals is given to trained people who respond to emergencies as part of their work. The Certificate of Extraordinary Personal Action goes to people who lack Red Cross training but who step up during an emergency. Finally, the Lifesaving Instructor Award is given to instructors who teach the skills that help save or sustain lives.

You can nominate and recognize a person or group who have used the skills and knowledge gained in Red Cross training courses to help save or sustain a life. Visit LifesavingAwards.org to get started.