Holocaust Remembrance Day

By Jan Radke, American Red Cross

As we observe Holocaust Remembrance Day this week it is hard to imagine the horror and scale of such atrocities.

“Never again!” was the cry of leaders in the United States and around the world after the Holocaust. The Holocaust was a genocide in which Hitler’s Nazi Germany killed about six million Jews. The victims included 1.5 million children and represented about two-thirds of the nine million European Jews. Other victims of Nazi crimes included ethnic Poles, Soviet citizens, and Soviet POWs, other Slavs, Romanis, communists, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses and mentally and physically disabled people – bringing the total of those murdered to about 11 million.

In the past 150 years, tens of millions of men, women and children have lost their lives in genocides of mass atrocities. Today people are still facing the threat of genocide not because of anything they have done, but because of the color of their skin, their ethnic background or the god they worship.

History doesn’t have to keep repeating itself. The powerful movement in response to the Darfur genocide showed that by acting together, we can bring change to protect innocent men, women and children from brutal regimes.

The British Chief Rabbi expressed the importance of “Never forget!” best:

“Civilization lives by memory. What we forget, we can repeat. What we remember, we can guard against. Only by handing on to our children what we have learned, often at great cost, have we a chance of turning history into a narrative of hope instead of an endless cycle of hatred and bloodshed…What the Holocaust must teach us is not what it means to be a Jew, but what it means to be human – and to acknowledge the humanity of others.”

Genocide Awareness Month Continues

Last month, you may have read in the news that the former Bosnian leader, Radovan Karadzic, was convicted of genocide.  A United Nations Tribunal convicted Mr. Karadzic of genocide and crimes against humanity for his role in the Siege of Sarajevo and the mass killings of thousands of Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica in 1995. Although the conviction was delivered over 20 years since the genocide in Bosnia, this was a historic conviction that may bring some closure for those who suffered through the violence.

After the Bosnian war, many Bosnians fled the country and settled in the United States.  Bosnians resettled in Connecticut, especially in the Hartford area where a large Bosnian community exists today. I spoke last week to Alma, a Red Cross volunteer who has helped Bosnians in CT find out what happened to their family members separated by conflict through the Restoring Family Links Program.  In Alma’s case, she has mostly notified Bosnians when their family member’s remains have been found.  While Alma had to deliver somber news to Bosnian families in CT, she also felt it brought a sense of closure to families waiting for news about their loved ones for so many years.

As the Red Cross prepares for Genocide Awareness Month in April, Alma’s volunteer work and the news of Karadzic’s conviction remind us of the lingering impact of genocide around the world, and here in our own state.

To read more about the conviction, click here.

To read more about the Bosnian Genocide, click here.

April is Genocide Awareness Month

Many of us have heard stories of genocide in history class or the news.  Maybe you’ve seen the movie Hotel Rwanda, learned about the Nazi’s massacre of Jews in World War II, or heard George Clooney speaking out against mass killings in Darfur. No matter where or how you have heard about genocide, it remains difficult to talk about and hard to comprehend how such devastating mass violence can occur around the globe.

The Red Cross has taken the bold action to talk about and raise awareness on genocide, designating this April Genocide Awareness Month. Throughout the next few weeks and during the month of April the Rhode Island Red Cross will be raising awareness on genocide and sharing stories of survivors.  We will also be letting people know how the Red Cross and Global Red Crescent have connected thousands of family members separated by violence and conflict through its Restoring Family Links program. Red Cross staff and volunteers have connected survivors of the Holocaust, Rwandan Genocide, and conflict in the Balkans through this program.

Join us in this tough discussion over the next two months with the hope of raising awareness on genocide, sparking discussions on how to prevent future mass violence, and also helping genocide survivors across the globe!

We’ll leave you with some links to learn more about what genocide is and when it has happened in the past.

United Nations definition of genocide

Learn about the Rwandan Genocide

Read about the Bosnian Genocide

Learn about the Holocaust

Hurricane Season Begins June 1; Plan Now to Stay Safe

ThHurricane_Irene_Aug_15_2005e Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1. Now is the time to prepare your home and family for the effects of severe weather. While the season doesn’t peak in New England until August and September, storms are certainly possible between the start of the season and November 30, when hurricane season officially ends. Preparing now will have you ready not only for hurricanes, but for other emergencies that can happen throughout the year.

From the February 2013 blizzard, to Hurricane Sandy, the October snowstorm of 2011 and Hurricane Irene, we have seen weather disrupt our daily lives and cause serious property damage.

Some of these storms brought storm surges to coastal areas or downed trees. In several cases, prolonged power outages affected many communities. So take a few minutes to think about the impacts you faced at home or at work and consider how you can make yourself more resilient in the face of future storms.

Planning now will help you better cope with emergencies. The American Red Cross has information and tools to help you prepare. Most tasks are simple and can be broken down into smaller steps that won’t be a burden. Start with the three most basic building blocks – a kit, a plan and knowledge about the risks in your community:

  • Create an emergency preparedness kit with food and water, and other basic supplies for each family member to last at least three days. Remember to include essential medications, copies of important documents and special items for children and pets.
  • Plan what to do in case you are separated from your family during an emergency and what to do if you have to evacuate. Coordinate with your child’s school, your work and community’s emergency plans. Get free checklists and downloadable tips at org/preparednessfastfacts.
  • Be informed about what disasters or emergencies may occur where you live, work, play and pray, and how to respond as safely as possible. Find out how local officials will contact you during a disaster and how you will get important information.
  • Download free Red Cross apps for your smart phone. Our Emergency and First Aid apps put preparedness and safety information in the palm of your hand before, during and after emergencies. Red Cross apps can be found in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross. Visit org/mobileapps for more information and download links.
  • Prepare your business with the Red Cross Ready Rating™ Program to prepare your business. It’s a free, web-based program designed to help businesses, organizations and schools to become better prepared. Visit readyrating.org for more information and self-assessment tools.

Preparation is the best protection against the dangers of a hurricane or other disaster. A few simple steps now will pay big dividends when the next storm hits.


Georgia Hunter Family pic

Holocaust Remembrance Day Is April 16, 2015

A special event on April 16 from 4PM to 6PM will commemorate the day and cap a program aimed at encouraging Holocaust survivors to share their stories with youth. The program, held in Washington, D.C., is also available online. For more information about the program and to register for the April 16 live-stream event, visit http://restoringfamilylinksblog.com/yomhashoah/ 

Restoring Family Links Helps Woman Learn Her Family’s Holocaust History

On June 6, 1944, Allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy, France, and attacked Adolf Hitler’s German forces in World War II. Thousands of American, British, and Canadian forces lost their lives in the intense fighting, but eventually the Allied forces won the battle. This marked a turning point in World War II, putting a crack in Hitler’s control of France. One year later, the Germans would surrender, ending the war in Europe and later in the Pacific and putting an end to the Holocaust.

When remembering the Holocaust this month and the millions who lost their lives, let’s take a moment to also remember how the Red Cross has helped our nation and the world heal from this tragedy. The American Red Cross has been providing tracing services for victims of WWII and the Nazi regime since 1939. Following the release of WWII documents to the Red Cross in 1989, the American Red Cross opened its Holocaust and War Victims Tracing Center (HWVTC), in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1990 to facilitate Holocaust Tracing requests. Over the years, the American Red Cross has worked with the international Red Cross network to reconnect family members separated by conflict, war and disaster. Since 1990, the American Red Cross has helped more than 45,000 families locate or find information about people separated by the Holocaust.

While the American Red Cross Holocaust and War Victims Tracing Center closed in 2012, all WWII related casework was transitioned to the Restoring Family Links Program at Red Cross national headquarters in Washington, D.C., where services continue.

How The American Red Cross Helps

Search for missing family members

Get documentation on the wartime and post-wartime experiences of family members or yourself. Access is provided to the complete records of the International Tracing Service and hundreds of other archives.

Obtain documents pertaining to:

  • Deportation
  • Internment
  • Evacuation to former Soviet territories
  • Forced and slave labor
  • Other records needed for restitution

Georgia Hunter’s Story Illustrates What Uncovering One’s Family History Can Mean

Georgia Hunter Family pic

For Georgia Hunter, finding out about her unusual family history began when she was given a homework assignment by a high school English teacher. The assignment was to do an “I-Search” to look back at her ancestry.  Her mother suggested she begin her search by speaking with her grandmother. Little did Georgia know what that conversation would reveal. Georgia’s grandfather had recently died and the story her grandmother began to share was not something she had ever imagined. She learned that her grandfather was both Polish and Jewish, not something she remembered having heard before. She was struck by how difficult his life had been. Georgia’s grandmother encouraged her to speak to her grandfather’s siblings to find more pieces of the story. Her interest was sparked well beyond that high school project and in 2000, when Georgia was a new college graduate, she found herself at a family reunion on Martha’s Vineyard attended by all of her grandfather’s siblings, her grandmother and various cousins and relatives she had not met before. Georgia recalls sitting at the table listening to snippets of stories about her grandfather and the other siblings and how they survived the war with determination, courage, cleverness and amazing good fortune. It is a story that spans five continents and has many twists and turns.

Georgia continued to collect family stories, traveling many miles to put to put them all together. She found the memories had holes here and there; understandably after all the time that had passed, many details are fuzzy and pieces forgotten.

Georgia contacted the Polish Red Cross by mail in 2011, in hopes of tracking down family records. Though several years passed, last fall an envelope filled with documents arrived at the local Red Cross office in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Georgia received a call from a Restoring Family Links caseworker in Connecticut and soon received the records sent by the Polish Red Cross. They included birth certificates from a Registry Office in Radom (the family’s hometown in Poland); applications for identification cards during Radom’s Nazi occupation, marked with the seal of the Supreme Council of Elders of the Jewish Population; and a record of a sibling registered as a survivor in 1946 with the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw. These records, from all over Poland, not just the family’s hometown of Radom, provide a few more pieces of history, forgotten no longer,  now documented, tangible.

There are fewer and fewer Holocaust survivors left to tell their stories so now is the time to preserve the memories and encourage those of future generations to search for the missing pieces. The American Red Cross Restoring Family Links program provides tracing services for Holocaust survivors and their families, working to provide hope, information and answers. Family tracing services are free of charge. For more information contact your local Red Cross at 1-800-REDCROSS.

Left to right: Jan Radke, Senior Director of Military and International Services with the American Red Cross Connecticut and Rhode Island Region and Connecticut resident Georgia Hunter hold family history documents provided to Georgia through the American Red Cross Restoring Family Links program.

Left to right: Jan Radke, Senior Director of Military and International Services with the American Red Cross Connecticut and Rhode Island Region and Connecticut resident Georgia Hunter hold family history documents provided to Georgia through the American Red Cross Restoring Family Links program.

To learn more about Georgia’s story, visit her website at http://www.georgialikethestate.com. For more on the Restoring Family Links program, visit http://www.redcross.org/what-we-do/international-services/reconnecting-families.

Recent Major Fires Affect Rhode Island Communities

In recent months, the American Red Cross Rhode Island Chapter has opened shelters in the wake of major fires in Warwick and Woonsocket, where nearly 100 people were forced from their homes.

In Warwick, a March 11 fire destroyed an entire building at the Westgate condominium and 38 families everything they had, including in some cases a beloved family pet. Red Cross team members were on scene within the first hour comforting families, helping them assess their emergency needs and offering support.

In the days following the Westgate Condominium fire, 34 Red Cross volunteers worked with nearly 50 people in 35 displaced families, providing direct financial support to provide for food, clothing and household needs as well as emotional support to those who needed it and links to other community resources for needs including clothing, furniture and leads on new homes. The Red Cross committed more than $22,000 in direct financial assistance to residents in the wake of this fire.

Another major fire in the early morning hours of April 9 in Woonsocket displaced 40 people. Again, Red Cross team members were on the scene soon after receiving the request for help. We opened a shelter to provide a safe, warm place to stay and began right away to meet with each family individually to determine their needs to help them begin their recovery. As we prepare this article, residents are receiving help with emergency food, clothing and household needs, and the Red Cross is working with City agencies and community partners to link families to long term recovery resources.

The American Red Cross responds to an average of 70,000 disasters each year, the majority of which are home fires. The same is true here in Connecticut and Rhode Island, where most of the average 1,000 emergencies we respond to each year are home fires. Many of those fires displace multiple families.

When fire strikes, the Red Cross is there to offer hope, comfort and support to help families begin their personal recovery. We know what fire can take from a family, so we are also working to help communities prepare by reaching out, neighbor-to-neighbor, with information and tools to help reduce the numbers of injuries and deaths due to home fires. We are visiting homes in communities across Connecticut and Rhode Island to share fire safety planning information and to offer free installation of long-life smoke alarms in homes where no working smoke alarms are currently installed.

Visit our home fire safety page for information and tips to keep your family safe. And help us be there when disaster strikes or a fire devastates a family by making a donation.

Your support powers the compassionate response of Red Cross volunteers who are on the scene to help our neighbors when they need it most. Thank you for your generous support of the Red Cross that helped us to respond in Warwick and will help us to respond next time, whenever and wherever we are needed.

Call To Action: Help the American Red Cross Vaccinate Against Measles!

photo: Measles and Rubella Initiative

photo: Measles and Rubella Initiative

By Red Cross volunteer Emily Esposito

With the recent outbreak of measles in the United States, vaccination and disease prevention has become a topic of discussion in the news, medical communities and living rooms across the county. There is no better time to talk about measles and rubella vaccinations and how to protect children from these serious infectious diseases.

Although Measles was eliminated from the U.S. in 2000, outbreaks like this most recent one can happen when unvaccinated people travel to the United States. Because the measles is so contagious (more than 90 percent of unvaccinated people exposed to Measles will get the disease) it is critical to vaccinate against measles.

The American Red Cross has worked to vaccinate against and eliminate the disease for the past 15 years as part of its Measles and Rubella Initiative. This Initiative, led by the American Red Cross and its global partners, aims to ensure that no child dies from Measles or is born with Congenital Rubella Syndrome. Under this Initiative, the Red Cross has helped vaccinate over a billion children around the world!MRubellaInitiativeLogo754x349

What can you do to help vaccinate children? You can donate to the Red Cross and learn more at the Measles & Rubella Initiative’s website: www.measlesrubellainitiative.org

You can also learn about and participate in the Vaccinate a Village program that raises funds Vaccinate a Village logofor and awareness of the Measles and Rubella Initiative. This is a perfect way for children and youth to become help their peers across the world.

To take action and learn more click here!

Protect Yourself From Wind and Cold: Red Cross Tips

The National Weather Service has issued a wind chill advisory for the entire state for tonight and tomorrow morning. Wind chills of 10 below zero and more in different parts of the state could cause frostbite as a result of prolonged exposure. Take steps to prevent exposure by limiting time outside and dressing appropriately when you do go outside. Our friends at the Wisconsin Chapters of the American Red Cross, who know a thing or two about extremely cold weather, have put together some good information on frostbite and hypothermia. We are sharing that here to help you avoid serious harm.

Frostbite and Hypothermia 
Frostbite and hypothermia are cold-related emergencies that may quickly become life or limb threatening. Preventing cold-related emergencies includes not starting an activity in, on or around cold water unless you know you can get help quickly in an emergency. Be aware of the wind chill. Dress appropriately and avoid staying in the cold too long. Wear a hat – preferably one that also covers your ears – and gloves when appropriate with layers of clothing. Drink plenty of warm fluids or warm water but avoid caffeine and alcohol. Stay active to maintain body heat. Take frequent breaks from the cold. Avoid unnecessary exposure of any part of the body to the cold. Get out of the cold immediately if the signals of hypothermia or frostbite appear.

Frostbite is the freezing of a specific body part such as fingers, toes, the nose or ear lobes. Wind chill can affect the amount of time you may safely remain outside in cold weather.

NOAA Wind Chill Chart

Wind chill contributes to frostbite risk.

Signals of frostbite include lack of feeling in the affected area; skin that appears waxy, is cold to the touch, or is discolored (flushed, white or gray, yellow or blue).

Frostbite image

Frostbite damage to skin.

What to do for frostbite:

  • Move the person to a warm place.
  • Handle the area gently; never rub the affected area.
  • Warm gently by soaking the affected area in warm water (100–105 degrees F) until it appears red and feels warm.
  • Loosely bandage the area with dry, sterile dressings.
  • If the person’s fingers or toes are frostbitten, place dry, sterile gauze between them to keep them separated.
  • Avoid breaking any blisters.
  • Do not allow the affected area to refreeze.
  • Seek professional medical care as soon as possible.

Hypothermia is another cold-related emergency. Hypothermia may quickly become life threatening. Hypothermia is caused by the cooling of the body caused by the failure of the body’s warming system. The goals of first aid are to restore normal body temperature and to care for any conditions while waiting for EMS personnel.

Signals of hypothermia include shivering, numbness, glassy stare; apathy, weakness, impaired judgment; loss of consciousness.

What to do for hypothermia:

  • Call 911.
  • Gently move the person to a warm place.
  • Monitor breathing and circulation.
  • Give rescue breathing and CPR if needed.
  • Remove any wet clothing and dry the person.
  • Warm the person slowly by wrapping in blankets or by putting dry clothing on the person. Hot water bottles and chemical hot packs may be used when first wrapped in a towel or blanket before applying. Do not warm the person too quickly, such as by immersing him or her in warm water. Rapid warming may cause dangerous heart arrhythmias. Warm the core first (trunk, abdomen), not the extremities (hands, feet). This is important to mention because most people will try to warm hands and feet first and that can cause shock.



We turn the clocks back on Saturday night, marking the end of Daylight Saving Time. When the clocks “fall back,” it’s a great time to fall back on some important safety routines.

Replace batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. If you have a smoke alarm with removable batteries, it’s a good idea to replace them regularly. Doing it when you “fall back” or “spring forward” assures that you have an easy-to-remember date to change batteries and check your smoke alarm. If your alarms are older, it’s a good idea to consider replacing them. Smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years. Many newer models have permanent, long-life batteries. When you need to replace the batteries, you simply replace the unit, assuring you always have a functioning smoke alarm. When installing a new smoke alarm, write in marker on the alarm the date it was installed.

Remember, that you should have a smoke alarm on each level of your home, in hallways outside bedrooms and one in each bedroom. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when installing your alarms. More information about smoke alarms is available here.

When you’ve tested your alarms, replaced the batteries or updated the smoke alarms, spend some time reviewing your emergency preparedness.

Check your emergency supplies kit. Make sure that any first aid and food items are not expired and in need of replacement. Test and replace if needed the batteries in your portable radio and flashlights. Use the Red Cross emergency supplies kit checklist to make sure you have the items you need in your kit.

Check and practice your escape and communications plans. In the event of a home fire, you might only have two minutes to escape your home. If you and your family are organized and know the plan, it can help reduce panic, speed escape and save lives. Do you know multiple escape routes from the rooms in your home? Do you have pre-arranged spots to meet safely outside? Do you have a communication plan to reach each other or someone else in an emergency? Check out our resources for developing a disaster preparedness plan.

Use technology to help you prepare and stay informed. Red Cross apps for your smartphone can help with first aid, storm preparedness and much more. Check them out and download the free apps today!

Heroes of Rhode Island Announced

Heroes presenting sponsor logo

Each year, the American Red Cross Rhode Island Chapter honors community heroes that make a difference in the lives of Rhode Islanders. This year’s honorees are profiled here. The Heroes Breakfast is Friday, October 24, at 7:30 a.m. at the Omni Providence Hotel in Providence. Emcee is NBC 10 News Anchor and Reporter Alison Bologna. For more information or tickets, click here.

Thank you

CVS Health

CVS Health’s commitment to stronger, healthier communities aligns with the same commitment in the mission of the American Red Cross. By promoting better health, by fostering preparedness and by supporting organizations that improve the lives of people in the many communities they serve, CVS Health makes a life changing difference in many ways.

CVS Health’s commitment to building safer communities starts with its own offices, where a 200-member Emergency Response Team of employees volunteer their time to serve as first responders in the event of a disaster, evacuation or medical emergency at their workplace. Team members are trained and ready to help their colleagues, supporting a more resilient community by reducing risk and demand on outside resources that might be needed elsewhere in the early moments of an emergency.

Each year, the CVS Health Charity Classic generates funds for more than thirty Rhode Island charities. The CVS Health Downtown 5K highlights their commitment to health as well as raising funds for local charities. Through grants and volunteerism, CVS Health is changing communities for the better.

CVS Health donations of time, funds and products help to support the humanitarian work of the American Red Cross. In the wake of disasters, financial donations from CS Health have powered the Red Cross response in communities across the nation. And CVS Health employees have volunteered their time to build comfort kits from products donated by the company. These kits provide the Red Cross with a resource to offer people displaced by disaster the basics that become so important when they may have lost everything but the clothes on their backs.

“Among the nominees for the Workplace Hero award, we sought an organization known for groundbreaking leadership and longstanding support of the community at a local and national level,” said American Red Cross Rhode Island Chapter Executive Director Paula Montgomery. “CVS Health demonstrates a deep and thoughtful commitment to supporting people and organizations that are building a better world.”

Timothy D. Crandall and the East Greenwich Fire Department

East Greenwich High School student Anthony Petrone is alive today because of fast action and emergency care for sudden cardiac arrest.

On March 31, the East Greenwich Fire Department received an emergency call from East Greenwich High school involving an individual suffering from active seizures. Rescue personnel arrived to find student Anthony Petrone unresponsive, notTim Crandall & East Greenwich Fire Department breathing and without a pulse on the gymnasium floor. East Greenwich High School Athletic Trainer Timothy Crandall was caring for the student. When notified that a student had passed out in the gym, Crandall rushed to the scene. When he arrived, he realized that it was a much more serious situation. Crandall immediately implemented emergency protocol by providing CPR and defibrillation, using an Automated External Defibrillator (AED). Crandall’s 11 years as an Emergency Medical Technician in Connecticut and the American Red Cross CPR recertification training he has taken every two years since no doubt contributed to his swift and life-saving reaction.

Rescue took over CPR and continued defibrillation, working to revive Petrone. As a result of the quick thinking and effectiveness of all involved, Petrone was initially treated and then quickly transported to Kent County Hospital. “The stars aligned that day. Everyone was in the right place at the right time,” said East Greenwich Fire Department Lieutenant William Purcell.

In an interview with the North East Independent, Petrone’s mother, Keelin Petrone, credited Tim Crandall’s initial response and rapid care with saving her son’s life. “Without being shocked [with a defibrillator], he wouldn’t have made it. There is no way to thank Tim enough for what he did.”

Presented by:

Amica Mutual Insurance Company logo.

Amica Mutual Insurance Company 

Stephen & Rosemarie Moretti

Two military parents are using their personal experience to help other military families cope with the stress of deployments.

Stephen and Rosemarie Moretti began volunteering in 2004 when their son, SSG Steven Moretti, joined the 169th Military Police Company in the Army National Guard. They volunteered because they wanted to help the families during the upcoming deployment to Iraq (2007 to 2008) and discovered how rewarding volunteering can be. They continued Stephen & Rosemarie Morettivolunteering with the unit through a second deployment to Afghanistan (2012 to 2013).

During this period, Stephen and Rosemarie served as members of the Unit’s Family Readiness Group. The Morettis worked tirelessly while the soldiers served abroad to ensure that each and every military family member was well taken care of. Their efforts on behalf of the Family Readiness Group were instrumental to the Unit’s success once deployed to Afghanistan. Stephen and Rosemarie’s individual support of the Unit’s initiatives back home, as well as their never-ending care for the family members of deployed soldiers helped to keep the soldiers mission focused.

The Morettis’ volunteer contributions also include the Family Assistance Center, the Rhode Island Military Lounge at TF Green Airport and Blue Star Mothers. Their volunteer duties involve assisting at various 169th family events throughout the year and making monthly “check in” calls to those who have a family member deployed.

Stephen and Rosemarie feel that their experience with having a deployed family member makes them uniquely equipped to support others in the same situation. “We plan on volunteering forever! It feels right for us and it feels good to hopefully make a difference in the lives of our military and their families.”

Presented by:Webster Bank logo. Click to visit Webster Bank website.

Webster Bank


Rhode Island Urban Search and Rescue Task Force

The Rhode Island Urban Search & Rescue (RIUSAR) Task Force is a volunteer Urban Search and Rescue Team that is authorized by the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA) to respond to natural or man-made disasters involving building collapses that require specialized search skills and tools. RIUSAR has responded to various local emergencies including the floods of 210, Hurricane Sandy and Hurricane Irene, as well as various structure collapses due to snow and ice.

The goal in developing a local Urban Search and Rescue Team in Rhode Island is to assist RIEMA in responding more quickly to major disasters than would be the case if Rhode Island strictly relied on federal USAR teams. RIUSAR Rescue RI Urban Search and Rescue TeamOperations Manager John Cagno, Jr., told a reporter from WPRI last April that “It would probably take a federal team to get out the door and to respond in maybe three, four hours. We can probably get to anywhere in the state in probably 30 to 40 minutes after an incident occurs.”

RIUSAR is a Task Force comprised of five major functional elements: Search, Rescue, Medical, Logistics and Planning. Volunteers are drawn from the fire, medical, law enforcement and engineering sectors. RIUSAR members have access to and are trained in using advanced life-saving equipment that would not be practical for many local response agencies to have. The Team seeks to staff each of its approximately 70 positions two-deep, thereby increasing response capability. RIUSAR is also capable of deploying a smaller 34 person team, or specialty teams to suit the needs of the situation.

Members of RIUSAR have the skills and training to respond, but it’s their motivation to volunteer for a complex mission that sets them apart. “If you don’t have the passion, genuine passion, then you don’t belong here,” Cagno says.

Presented by:Clean Care of New England logo. Click to visit Clean Care website.

Clean Care of New England

Rev. John D. Wheeler

Reverend John Wheeler blends his pastoral role and his commitment to preparedness to help keep Rhode Islanders safer in emergencies.

Reverend Wheeler has served as pastor at the Stony Lane Baptist Church, in North Kingstown for the past 20 years. Beyond his role with the church, Reverend Wheeler devotes significant time to volunteer work in support of a number of faith organizations, including CareNetRI, LoveRI and the Ministry Training Network of Southeastern New England, where he is Board President.Rev. John Wheeler

Reverend Wheeler is also involved in organizations that support community preparedness and disaster response, melding his role in the faith community with the work of others committed to community resilience. He is a Council member of New England Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD), which helps to mobilize and coordinate faith-based and community organizations to respond to disaster-caused needs. He is a team leader with the Disaster Behavioral Response Team of Rhode Island, which helps to provide emotional care in disasters. And Reverend Wheeler also serves as a Shelter Manager and Disaster Institute Instructor for the American Red Cross.

Reverend Wheeler has been active with the Red Cross since the 2010 Rhode Island floods and has taken on many roles, including the important tasks of recruiting and training fellow volunteers. One of his most fulfilling roles is that of Disaster Institute Instructor, in which he conducts a workshop called “Helping the Helper.” The workshop helps volunteers address compassion fatigue, stress and personal disaster preparedness for Red Cross volunteers who are preparing to deploy or who have deployed to assist in disaster responses. Reverend Wheeler asks, “Who helps the helpers? I honestly believe God has given me a real passion and desire to help these people because they are always giving.”

Presented by:Cox Media logo. Click to visit Cox Media website.

Cox Media