Public Health Emergency - Leading a Nation Prepared
Author: Gurleen Kaur, University of Maryland Intern, Office of Policy and Planning, Division of Policy and Strategic Planning, HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Published Date: 3/27/2015 2:08:00 PM
Red Cross prepares every day so that they can – and do – provide comfort, help keep people healthy, and save lives when disaster strikes. Over the course of a year, Red Cross responds to about 70,000 disasters, gets blood donations from nearly 4 million people, and trains over 9 million people health and safety courses, such as CPR and first aid. Red Cross’s healing presence is felt throughout disasters - from the bystander who knows enough to apply pressure to the wound to the doctor who has the blood needed to treat an injured patient to the family who gets the shelter and maybe even the counseling they need to get through a tough time.
In recognition of all that Red Cross does during disasters and every day, March is Red Cross Month. As we reflect on American Red Cross Month, we thank those who serve as part of the organization that has helped so many people throughout the country and around the world during large-scale disasters and every day emergencies.
Everybody can become a part of something that helps people when they need it most. As we think about what Red Cross has done for others, we can also think about the role we’ve played in our communities. What have we done recently? Have we donated our efforts to a worthy cause? Helped a neighbor in need? Donated blood? If the answer is no, we can use this time to change some of those answers.
We are all a part of a larger community, whether that is our neighborhood, religious group, school, or workplace. What we bring to the table impacts the people in our communities. By becoming a positive example we can help those around us to become a stronger, both individually and as a community.
What can you do to help others this month? Each act of kindness is infectious. When one person commits to sharing their time and talents, the whole community benefits.
You can commit to helping out in small ways that can make a big difference. For example, donating blood doesn’t take very long and it saves lives. Committing to be a better bystander – the kind that knows how to help when people need it – is pretty simple. For example, you could start by taking a first aid and CPR class so that you can provide care when every second counts.
Or you can serve your community on an ongoing basis by volunteering. Consider volunteering with your local Medical Reserve Corporation (MRC). MRC volunteers can assist with activities to improve public health in their community by increasing health literacy, supporting prevention efforts and reducing health disparities.
Joining your local Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) is another great way to strengthen community ties. CERT members are educated in disaster preparedness and are trained in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. These valuable skills can then be used to assist your community before a professional responder can reach an emergency.
Healthier, more resilient communities contribute to our overall national health security and we can support community health in many ways, including the ones outlined above. Earlier this year, ASPR released the National Health Security Strategy 2015-2018 to help create more prepared, protected and resilient communities. That is a very big – very important – goal and volunteering to serve our communities is one way that we can work together to help make it a reality.
Before American Red Cross month concludes, take a few minutes to consider ways that you can serve. When we take the time to serve our communities and commit to making them stronger and more resilient, we can see the benefits during disasters and every day.
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