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.
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.”
LIFE SAVING HERO
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, not 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.”
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 volunteering 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.”
COMMUNITY RESILIENCE HERO
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 Operations 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.
SPIRIT OF THE RED CROSS
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.
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.”