Tag Archives: wildfire

September is National Preparedness Month, the perfect time to get your household ready for an emergency. The American Red Cross Eastern PA urges everyone to make sure they are prepared for a disaster and not wait until an emergency occurs and it’s too late.

“This is the time of year when hurricanes, floods, wildfires and other large disasters can happen,” said Guy Triano, CEO of Red Cross Eastern PA region “You should take steps now to be ready if an emergency occurs. It’s critical that all members of your household know what to do.”

BE READY TO EVACUATE Whether the emergency is a home fire or something bigger like a hurricane, the situation may force you to leave your home. There are ten steps you can take now to be prepared if the emergency makes it unsafe to remain at home:

  1. Follow the instructions of officials and evacuate if told to do so.
  2. Leave early enough to avoid being trapped by severe weather.
  3. Remember you may have to get out on foot depending on the type of disaster. If you don’t have a car, or can’t use your vehicle, plan on how you will leave the area.
  4. If you have a car, keep the gas tank full if an evacuation order is possible. Don’t let the tank go below half full in case gas stations are unable to pump gas.
  5. Decide where you would go and what route you would take to get there. This could be a motel, the home of a friend or relative a safe distance away, or an evacuation shelter. Download the free Red Cross Emergency App to find shelter information and weather and emergency alerts for more than 35 different situations.
  6. If you have time, let someone out of the region know you are evacuating and where you are going. Leave a note saying when you left and where you plan to go.
  7. Wear sturdy shoes and clothing that provides some protection.
  8. Be alert for road hazards such as downed trees, flooding, etc. Do not drive onto a flooded road.
  9. Practice evacuating your home twice a year. Grab your emergency kit and drive your planned evacuation route. Include an alternate route in a different direction in case one is impassible. Make sure you have locations and maps saved on devices such as cell phones and GPS units and on paper.
  10. Don’t forget your pets. If it’s not safe for you to stay home, it’s not safe for them either. Prepare a phone list of pet-friendly motels and animal shelters located along your evacuation route. Keep in mind only service animals are usually allowed in shelters


THREE EASY STEPS Getting prepared is easier than it sounds. There are three basic steps:

  • GET A KIT. Pack the following items in an easy-to-carry container – a gallon of water per person, per day; non-perishable food; flashlight and hand-crank or battery-powered radio; extra batteries; sanitation and personal hygiene items; copies of important papers; extra cash and any medical or baby supplies family members may need. See full details here.
  • MAKE A PLAN. Have all members of your household help devise your emergency plan. Consider what emergencies could happen where you live; what to do if you are separated and how will you let loved ones know you are safe. Find full details and easy-to-use plan templates here.
  • BE INFORMED. Learn what disasters are common to your area. Find out how local authorities will let you know an emergency is happening. Make sure at least one household member is trained in first aid and CPR in case help is delayed during a disaster. You can also download the Red Cross First Aid App at to have instant access on how to handle common first aid emergencies. Learn how to get fully informed about emergencies here.

American Red Cross Southeastern Pennsylvania Chief Communications Officer Dave Schrader spent a week assisting with the national Red Cross response in Arizona. Here are videos detailing just a fraction of what the Red Cross is doing to help a community deal with a disaster and tragedy all at once.
These videos are also featured on The American Red Cross Disaster Online Newsroom.

Red Cross to Provide Shelter to Firefighters Attending Yarnell Memorial

Red Cross Cares for People and Their Pets

Red Cross Response is 2-Pronged

Dave Schrader visits a memorial to the 19 lost fire fighters in Prescott, AZ.

Dave Schrader visits a memorial to the 19 lost firefighters in Prescott, AZ.

Follow along as American Red Cross Southeastern Pennsylvania Chief Communications Officer, Dave Schrader documents his deployment to Arizona to assist with the national response to the wildfire and firefighter tragedy there. Click on the links to watch Dave’s VLOGs from Arizona.

July 6 – Farewell Prescott

July 6 – Signing off the Job

July 6 – Branding Disaster Response

Emergency Response Vehicles from all over support the response in Arizona.

July 5 – Hello Mr. Senator

Dave with Senator John McCain at Prescott High School

July 5- Animal Therapy for Red Crossers

Dave’s new friends

July 4 – Independence Day in Prescott

July 4 – Inside to the fire Line

Fire crew from Minnesota performs a show and tell for media tour.

July 4 – Close to the fire Line

July 4 – Brainstorming

July 4 – Striving for the Big Time

July 3 – Hail Storm in Prescott

July 3 – Stopping to Edit

July 3 – Inside the Disaster Operation Center

July 2 – Attending a vigil

Vigil at Prescott Highschool


Danelle Stoppel, a Red Cross volunteer with the SEPA chapter, is very experienced with the transition from volunteering at the local level to the national level and understands the ongoing problems that come with traveling through areas devastated by fire. This blog was compiled from a series of text messages sent by Danelle from her recent posting in Colorado Springs.

(Below are the second set of compiled texts. To see the first set,  click here.


July 4th, 2012 – Colorado Springs

Our ERV came upon people who requested our help.  In an area with no reported losses, an elderly couple entered their home to find it completely destroyed by fire and now water damage from the rains.  We helped them with valuables and medicine.  The roof was leaking and the Sheetrock was falling.  We helped them grab what they wanted to save, including an antique painting from Poland, and left the house.  The mayor’s wife and a community leader who is also a roofer mobilized his crew to cover the house since we are now under a flood watch.  Thank God for my Disaster Action Team training on difficult responses, which trained me to look up first and think safety.  My boots did the job again. Please people, no sneakers on DAT! Motto for the day: Red Cross boots on the ground!

Yesterday the new manager arrived. Her name is Janet and she is from Florida.  I quickly briefed her of the events and activities of the past eight days. She arrived with a supervisor named Sharon, also from Florida.  They have worked together on other disaster responses. Janet and Sharon set up their operation and I stepped aside so they could assume command.  My crew of great young people including Karin, Lisa, Michael, Luanna, Walt, Don, Carol, and Ruth are now part of a larger group of thirty people. I will see them tonight at a local party sponsored by Colorado Springs to honor the American Red Cross.

Danelle’s “Psych Six Team”

I am currently riding on an ERV to deliver services to residents who are seeing their homes for the first time. I leave tomorrow for home and I know my chapter is busy with a large fire and the aftermath of strong storms.  I promised American Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania chapter pins to many people since it is considered a real find.  Hopefully, my energetic approach to delivering mental health services has been effective during the first phase of this disaster response. Mental health was the first service to arrive in Colorado Springs. See you soon.



Happy 4th of July from Colorado Springs! Kids selling lemonade to raise money for Red Cross

Working for the Red Cross you get used to a lot of uncertainty. A lot of Plan Bs and Plan Cs. A lot of schedule rearranging. It’s the nature of working for an organization that responds to disasters.

But Monday (April 9th) was easily unprecedented, not only for me and my 2 ½ year Red Cross career as Director of Communications, but also for the organization overall.

It all started with a phone call I didn’t hear. The call from our chapter’s Chief Operating Officer at about 5 a.m. to say there was a massive 5-alarm warehouse fire in the Kensington section of Philadelphia. Trust me, not hearing a call like that is not a good way to start your day.

But finally I did hear the call. So I threw on a Red Cross hat and pullover and headed to the scene. No breakfast. No shower. (That last part will be important later.)

We were caring for about 25 people displaced from their homes because of the fire.ImageI was with those residents when word came that two firefighters died. It deepened the sadness everyone was already feeling.

At the fire scene, I recorded and posted to social media a message of condolence to the fire department and the firefighters families from our CEO. Our hearts go out to them. It’s painful.  The Red Cross and fire departments have a special relationship. We rely on each other. After they save people, we feed them, we house, them, we clothe them.

I went into the office to tend to a few other things, including preparing for a visit from our national CEO the next day.

But I was called out to the scene again to manage some media interviews. While there, our  Director of Recovery and Red Cross House and I met with the families whose homes were destroyed by the fire. ImageThey were distraught. They were scared.  But our volunteers made them feel better and reassured them they wouldn’t have to go through this alone.

I had been awake for only a few hours, but I felt like I had been up all day. But as it turned out, my day was only beginning.

While in Kensington I got word that there were two big apartment complex fires to which the Red Cross was responding. One in Bucks County and one in Montgomery County. I headed to Montgomery County. A fire had ripped through a building at Abrams Run apartments.ImageAbout a dozen families, 23 people were displaced, including Ahmet, a little boy I met who was wrapped in a Red Cross blanket to help keep him warm.

ImageI spent some time at Abrams Run before heading home, thinking my day was over.

I only had a few moments to pick up my kids and drop off my stuff before going to my weekly basketball game. But while playing basketball, I got another call that the Red Cross was opening a shelter in Chester County for more than 150 firefighters battling a wildfire in Berks County. The Red Cross was supplying the cots, blankets, food, and some volunteers. It was an hour drive, but off I went, keeping in my mind that I still hadn’t showered from this morning.  I didn’t have a dry shirt. I was wearing shorts on a cold night. I didn’t have my camera or even a pencil.

But the Red Cross way is to figure something out. So I met up with a colleague half way to the shelter to get a Red Cross shirt. I borrowed an iPhone from one of our volunteers at the shelter so I could take pictures and video. We sweet-talked someone into giving us the Wifi password and access to a computer.

But while there, I was overwhelmed with pride as our volunteers methodically and quickly unloaded and set up dozens and dozens of cots. They arranged to make the place as homey as possible. The firefighters were gracious and grateful. But it’s us who should be grateful. Setting up those cots was the least we  could do. ImageEarlier that day two firefighters died protecting us. The 150 plus firefighters I was with at the shelter were risking their lives protecting us.  So I had to curb any notion I had to complain about how tired I was or how much I wanted a shower.

I spent several hours at the shelter shooting videos and pictures and uploading to twitter and facebook, getting the word out about what the Red Cross is doing, all the while marveling at the bravery of the firefighters and the compassion of our volunteers.

I’m happy to say all the firefighters made it back alive. No one was killed and the wildfire is out.

In one day, in one 24 hour span, with the help of 40+ volunteers the Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania responded to 13 disasters, at least one in each of our five counties. ImageThe disasters included a wildfire, two apartment complex fires, a 5-alarm warehouse fire, a brush fire, and eight house fires. We helped 256 people. We provided lodging at a motel or at Red Cross House for 123 people. It was one disaster shy of our one day record of 14. But I can proudly say each and every person we helped got the same high quality of care, care that without the Red Cross, they would not have gotten.

I hope you are as proud as I am of the work that was achieved. We are after all, your local Red Cross. Since we are primarily volunteers, it’s your neighbors, your friends, and your co-workers that make up our workforce. We are funded solely by your generosity. So when we succeed, you succeed. So thank you. It is because of you that we were able to respond to 13 disasters in 24 hours.