Thursday, May 25, 2017

Better Together; Partnerships Prepare Communities

The Wind River Indian Reservation has seen disaster numerous times with past flooding, and this year will be no exception. When the Red Cross responds to flooded homes it's not just another house, but community members who have immediate needs.

"It's a great feeling when you can come alongside and offer assistance. It's an even better feeling when we have can join forces with partners to prepare a community in advance; to try and prevent loss of life and property," said Kaleigh Good, Disaster Program Manager for Red Cross of Wyoming.

Red Cross is proud to have been invited by the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribes into a partnership for pre-flood mitigation. The partnership extends well beyond this pre-flood mitigation, as Red Cross frequently collaborates with Northern Arapaho Emergency Manager Harvey Spoonhunter and Eastern Shoshone Emergency Manager Vernon Hill. Together, Red Cross, Team Rubicon Region VIII, and Tribal Emergency Management officials are advocates for emergency preparedness and positioning the community for a stronger, more resilient place to call home.

On day one of the mitigation project, Team Rubicon Region VIII Members gathered around for a morning briefing. "We are here to help protect life and property today; to hopefully keep some families from having to worry about the flooding that may occur," said the Team Leader. Team Rubicon Volunteers were thankful to the Red Cross for providing the support that allowed them to be part of the efforts and will spend the next few days filling sandbags in efforts to prepare the community in advance of the snow melt.

Many members of the community began stacking sandbags several weeks ago as they prepared for severe flooding; the current snow water equivalent is more than 300% the normal range in the Wind River Basin.

"This is my first mitigation. It's hard to come in and see the aftermath so this is nice to be here to hopefully help prevent some of that loss, " said Ashley Crandall, Team Rubicon volunteer who came in from Texas to help support the community. Many of the volunteers from Team Rubicon have traveled a great distance to be here helping this community, whose families see and experience some level of flooding every year. Take, for example,  Crawford, who has lived on the Wind River Reservation his entire life. He and his family, which consists of more than 100 brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, and uncles are all part of this tight knit community on the reservation. "We are a lot more prepared now than we were in 2010," he said as he shared with us his experience of past flooding in the community and what they are doing to prepare for what they know is on the way. "It's great to see all the people who are coming together to help each other and to help their neighbors get ahead of it this year," he said.

"We thought it was done snowing...but then we got more. That means more water in the rivers when it starts to melt and it all flows right down here," Crawford said.

Floods are among the most frequent and costly natural disasters. The Red Cross provides several tools such as a free Emergency App which can be set to alert you to potential threats like flash flooding. You can learn more by clicking HERE, or from your mobile phone, Text GETEMERGENCY to 90999.

Learn more about flood safety and preparedness, as well as what to do before, during, and after a flood event, or how YOU can help those who are affected by flooding this year at

Photos By: Red Cross Volunteer, Nigel F. Holderby

About the American Red Cross: The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission.

Safety Tips for Memorial Day Weekend

By Nigel Holderby

American Red Cross of Colorado and Wyoming: May 25, 2017 — Many folks will spend the upcoming Memorial Day weekend taking a road trip, having their first picnic of the season or enjoying that first dip in the lake or pool. Follow these American Red Cross tips to stay safe and relish all the long holiday weekend has to offer. 

  • Be well rested and alert, use your seat belts, observe speed limits and follow the rules of the road. 
  • If you plan on drinking alcohol, designate a driver who won’t drink. 
  • Give your full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones. 
  • Use caution in work zones. There are lots of construction projects underway on the highways. 
  • Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. 
  • Make frequent stops. 
  • Clean your vehicle’s lights and windows to help you see, especially at night. Turn your headlights on as dusk approaches, or during inclement weather. Don’t overdrive your headlights. 
  • Don’t let your vehicle’s gas tank get too low. If you have car trouble, pull as far as possible off the highway.
  • Carry a Disaster Supplies Kit in your trunk. 
  • Let someone know where you are going, your route and when you expect to get there. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route. 

  • Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use. 
  • Never grill indoors – not in your house, camper, tent, or any enclosed area. 
  • Make sure everyone, including the pets, stays away from the grill.  
  • Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, the deck, tree branches, or anything that could catch fire. 
  • Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill to keep the chef safe. 
  • Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited. 
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using grills. 

The following tips are layers of protection that will help people stay safe in, on and around the water: 

  • Do your part, be water smart! Ensure that everyone in the family learns to swim well. 
  • Adults: actively supervise children; stay within arm’s reach of young children and newer swimmers. And kids: follow the rules. 
  • Don’t fool with a pool: fence it in. Enclose your pool and spa with four-sided, four-foot fencing and use self-closing, self-latching gates. 
  • Don’t just pack it; wear your U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket – always when on a boat and if in a situation beyond your skill level. Inflatable children’s toys and water wings can be fun, but they are no substitute for a life jacket and adult supervision. 
  • Swim as a pair near a lifeguard’s chair - everyone, including experienced swimmers, should swim with a buddy in areas protected by lifeguards. 
  • Reach or throw, don't go! Know what to do to help someone in trouble, without endangering yourself; know how and when to call 9-1-1; and know CPR. DOWNLOAD RED CROSS APPS The Red Cross app “Emergency” can help keep you and your loved ones safe by putting vital information in your hand for more than 35 different severe weather and emergency alerts. The Red Cross Swim App promotes water safety education and helps parents and caregivers of young people learning how to swim. The Red Cross First Aid App puts instant access to information on handling the most common first aid emergencies at your fingertips. Download these apps by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in your app store or at 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

A Letter Home From Vietnam with Help from Red Cross

By Autumn Velez
Photos provided by George Autobee

Imagine being eighteen years old - you have just finished your initial military training in the United States Marine Corps and you are now being shipped off to a foreign country. Upon your arrival you are greeted by two Marines who are just finishing up their tour. These Marines looked as though they have seen things no human should have to see.

For George Autobee, this was his real life.

George Autobee in Vietnam
On June 21, 1968, Autobee, arrived in Da Nang, Vietnam where he was attached to the 2nd platoon, Mike Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division specializing in 60mm mortars and as a Rifleman. Soon after his arrival, Autobee learned Mike Company was also known as Med-Evac (medical evacuation) Mike because of the high causality rate within the company. Autobee soon learned the reality of being part of “Med- Evac Mike Company”.

Two and a half months after his arrival to Vietnam, Autobee was wounded in his arm during an initial engagement on Hill 310 when he was acting as the point man. This left him wounded and without a weapon. As mortar rounds came in, he was forced to leave the area and find the medical evacuation helicopter to Da Nang NSA. Once he arrived to the hospital late that evening, he was taken straight into surgery.

The letter home

While recovering in the hospital, Autobee was approached by an American Red Cross volunteer named Miss Jane Gordon. Miss Gordon offered to help Autobee write a letter home since he was unable to write due to the injury he sustained from being shot.

“In retrospect, I appreciate the help and see that a letter can mean a lot,” Autobee said. “What
surprised me is that Miss Gordon was there in a hostile wartime as a volunteer. She has all of my respect.”

After all of these years, Miss Gordon’s decision to volunteer during wartime has stuck with Autobee.

“I still today appreciate the Red Cross and the help I received in a time of need,” said Autobee. “I am forever grateful to Miss Jane Gordon and the American Red Cross.”

Autobee has attempted to track down Miss Gordon with little success, but “would thank her for her help while I was in need of assistance and that her willingness to serve in a warzone to help, was way above the call of duty.”

Receiving the Purple Heart Medal
Shortly after being treated for his wound, Autobee was awarded the Purple Heart and later a Gold Star. Upon his return to the United States on May 15, 1969, Autobee decided to separate from the Marine Corp and went on to pursue an undergraduate degree at Southern Colorado State College (now Colorado State University- Pueblo) and then a master’s degree from the University of Northern Colorado. In 1980, he returned to the military as part of the United States Army Reserves where he was commissioned and became a medic.

To this day, Autobee continues to give back to the American Red Cross by making donations as his way of thanking the organization that was there in his time of need.

The Service to Armed Forces program of the American Red Cross has a long history of support for our troops. Whether it is in peace time or in war our staff and volunteers are an important part of any military service. You can be part of this effort to support our troops as a volunteer or as a financial donor by going online to  If you would like to learn more about the Red Cross Service to Armed Forces program to see where you might join in, visit

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Sharing Knowledge with Lewis Palmer Elementary School

Story and photos by Bill Fortune/American Red Cross

Lewis Palmer School District hosted The Pillowcase Project with presentations by the American Red Cross of Southeastern Colorado. More than 600 students from the Districts elementary schools participated in the learning opportunity over a two week period. Classes were held at Lewis Palmer elementary, Bear Creek Elementary, Ray E. Kilmer Elementary, Prairie Winds Elementary, and Palmer Lake Elementary.

Red Cross instructor Matt Goldsmith holds door knobs
while students try to "stay low and go" to determine
if fire is on the other side of the door.
Students in the fourth and fifth grade were presented with information about local hazards and how to prepare for them. There was a strong emphasis on home fire safety with instruction about how to
escape from a closed room, how to respond to smoke alarms and how to check if there is fire on the "other side of the door" by touching the door knob with the back of their hand.

The Pillowcase Project was developed in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina when university students were scene evacuating with their possessions held in pillowcases. The concept was then adjusted to help train students in grades 3 through 6 using a "learn, practice, share" methodology.

Students show their pillowcases at the end of The
Pillowcase Project. Photo  by Bill Fortune/American
Red Cross
Each student is given a workbook and a pillowcase to color on with fabric markers. The workbook provides additional information and the pillowcase,  when colored, provides a visual reminder of the safety material and serves as a "go kit" for the child to have at home.

The Pillowcase Project is supported by Disney in partnership with the American Red Cross. If you would like to learn more about The Pillowcase visit . If you would like The Pillowcase Project to come to your school you can request a presentation here.

A students uses the workbook
provided by The Pillowcase Project.
Students color the pillowcases
provided by The Pillowcase Project

To see more photos of the students in Lewis Palmer School District participating in The Pillowcase Project visit our Flickr page.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Red Cross helps 133 people after disasters during April 2017

Red Cross responder in front of an apartment fire.
Photo:American Red Cross
American Red Cross of Colorado & Wyoming, May 3, 2017 — The American Red Cross of Colorado & Wyoming responded to calls for assistance, on average, twice to three times a day to disasters of all types. From flooding and house fires, to several homes collapsing from being hit by a vehicle. Of the 133 people helped by Red Cross, at least 40 were children under the age of 18 including several infants. Nearly 20 of those assisted were age 60 or older.  

“Not only are we providing this daily assistance in response to disasters, we also had a lot of people get trained in live saving skills,” said Gino Greco, Regional CEO for Red Cross of Colorado & Wyoming. In the Denver Mile High Chapter office alone, there were more than 70 training classes held during the month of April.

Breakdown of the CO & WY 87 county service area:
Mile High Chapter (MHC): 33 individuals received aid; Eight were under 18 years old. The MHC response area includes 10 counties in the Denver Metro area.

Southeastern Colorado Chapter (SoCO): 22 individuals received aid; Nine were under 18 years old. The SoCO response area includes 16 counties.

Northern Colorado Chapter (NoCO): 27 individuals received aid; Seven were under 18 years old and six were age 60 or older. The NoCO response area includes 11 counties.

Western Colorado Chapter (WeCO): 35 individuals received aid. 11 of those helped were under 18 years old. The WeCo response area covers 27 counties, serving all western Colorado and the San Luis Valley.

Wyoming Chapter: 16 individuals received aid; Five were under age 18. The Wyoming Chapter response area covers all 23 counties that make up the state of Wyoming.

The families and individuals were provided a place to stay, money for clothes, food and medicine. Along with providing casework for the residents in a quick and efficient time frame, Red Cross volunteers will continue to provide support to these families going forward, by doing follow up work to ensure all needs are met and the individuals have a clear path to recovery from this personal disaster. 

Response to Flooding in Southern Colorado

By Bill Fortune

Update at Noon, Friday, May 12, 2017
The shelter for the Beulah Flood closed at 11:00 A.M. Friday, May 12, 2017.
Food was donated by Angelos Pizza in Pueblo.
Photo by David Hayden/American Red Cross
Thursday night 3 people stayed at the Beulah Flood shelter. Food for the lunch meal on Thursday was donated by Angelos Pizza in Pueblo. They donated food enough to feed 65 people which included first responders, Red Cross shelter workers and people affected by the Beulah Flood. Huge THANK YOU to all of the local businesses that helped us with this response. 

The list of vendors included:
Starbucks at Northern and Pueblo Blvd.
Angelos Pizza at the River Walk
McDonalds at I-25 and Hwy 50
Papa John's at Outlook
Little Caesars at Outlook Blvd.

Sonic Drive-in at Pueblo Blvd and Northern

Volunteers from Beulah and West Park Fire Departments
Came to help at the shelter. Seen here with Red Cross
volunteers Kris Kennedy and Kathy Hayden.
Photo by David Hayden/American Red Cross
Red Cross initially opened Beulah School as an evacuation center for those affected by the floods. As Thursday went on it was determined that there was a need for overnight sheltering so Red Cross shelter supply trailers and additional volunteers were brought in to support that need.

We want to thank Pueblo County Emergency Services for their direction and support and all of the volunteers, from Red Cross and other organizations that helped provide a safe and dry place for people to get help.


UPDATE AT 9:30 A.M., May 11, 2017:
An evacuation center has been opened at Beulah School located at 8734 School House Lane Beulah, CO 81023. According to officials at least one family is being evacuated and taken to the evacuation center. Red Cross volunteer staff are on scene to provide support.
8:30 A.M. Thursday, May 11, 2017

The people of Beulah, La Veta and other communities near the Wet Mountains and the Spanish Peaks woke up to high water, fast moving creeks and in some cases washed out roads. The Red Cross of Southeastern Colorado stayed in contact with law enforcement and fire departments to respond when called.

One Red Cross volunteer took position in the Pueblo Emergency Operations Center while others transported food to fire fighters. Still others moved resources into position should sheltering be required.

Wednesday evening we provided 15 pizzas discounted from Papa Johns along with coffee from McDonalds. Thursday morning breakfast was prepared by Sonic Drive Inn along with coffee from Starbucks on Pueblo Blvd.

Drier weather is in the forecast for the next few days so the hope is that flooding conditions will improve. However, creeks and streams will continue to run high and fast through Friday. Caution is advised because some roads may be blocked or may have washed out. Don't drive on roads that are covered with water, especially if the water is moving.

Here are some photos provided by Pueblo County Sheriffs Office:

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Red Cross Participating in Multiple Exercises

By Bill Fortune
The American Red Cross is all about "being ready". Whether it is an individual family, a business, school or church the phrase "Be Red Cross Ready" is synonymous with knowing how to respond to any emergency.

"We take the responsibility of preparedness very seriously and we want to make sure that our volunteers are trained, well supplied and ready to mobilize when needed," said Sally Broomfield, Disaster Program Manager for the Red Cross of Southeastern Colorado.

As part of the effort to Be Red Cross Ready, the Red Cross of Southeastern Colorado participated in two exercises on May 3, 2017.
Volunteer from Pueblo, Salida and Colorado Springs
participated in CSEPP Exercise 2017

The annual Chemical Stockpile Preparedness Program 2017 exercise began at 8:30 with a call out to all volunteers to open a mock shelter/evacuation center at the First United Methodist Church in Pueblo. Fifteen Red Cross volunteers converged at the church in anticipation of the arrival of 60 students from the Pueblo Health Academy who would serve as mock clients.

"We treated this like a real emergency," said Richard Garcia, Mass Care Lead for the Southeaster Colorado Red Cross. "We assigned positions for our volunteers, set up some cots and blankets, established a Red Cross nurses station and arranged the shelter." He went on to say that several of the Red Cross volunteers were new and this will be their first experience with sheltering a large group of people.

The Southern Baptist mobile kitchen at the mock shelter
for CSEPP Exercise 2017
Food for the exercise was provided by the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief. They were great partners and are active members of the Colorado Volunteer Organizations Assisting in Disaster (COVOAD). They provided lunch for all of the students that volunteered as shelter clients and other organizations that were active in the exercise.

More photos from CSEPP Exercise 2017 are at

Red Cross volunteer Kimberly Poe talks with  a simulated
family at the Family Reception Center set up for the
mass casualty exercise. Photo by Joe Coleman

Meanwhile, another team of Red Cross volunteers were participating in a mass casualty exercise at the Colorado Springs Airport. A simulated plane crash occurred complete with mock victims wearing makeup to simulate injuries. The Red Cross role, as it would be in a real mass casualty event, was to set up a Friends and Relatives Reception Center where family members could meet to get information about loved ones, to talk to grief counselors and/or work with Red Cross volunteers to get support. For the exercise, the Red Cross positioned caseworkers, Nurses, Mental Health professionals and Spiritual Care volunteers. The volunteers helped the airlines with checking in the participants and provided a variety of care.

"I like the exercise format," said Jan McClellan, a volunteer Red Cross Nurse. "It gives me a chance to sharpen  my skills for the real thing."

L-R Volunteers Janet MCClellar, Pat Chappel and
Kimberly Poe talk with  MRC Director Frankie Gates
at the mass casualty exercise in Colorado Springs. Photo
by Joe Coleman/American Red Cross
In a real mass casualty event, such as a plane crash, you would see the Red Cross take a low profile with respect to social or traditional media. The focus would be on consoling those waiting for news about loved ones affected directly by the event. Red Cross would provide health and mental health services along with spiritual wellness.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Disaster Workers Deploying to Missouri

 Workers will bring help and hope to those recovering from devastating floods

UPDATE: May 9, 2017 - Another Colorado Volunteer goes to  to help

Roads, parks and homes flooded in Pocahontas, AR
Photo by American Red Cross
Walter Palmer has deployed to Arkansas to support relief efforts needed as extensive flooding has affected thousands of people.Palmer is a volunteer with the Red Cross of Southeastern Colorado and this will be his first deployment outside of Colorado. Palmer is a member of the Southeast Colorado Public Affairs team as a visual story teller/photographer and will help document the needs of the people affected and the response that is provided by the Red Cross and partners.

Trucks loaded with supplies to be delivered to areas
where flood waters have receded. Photo by Walt Palmer/
American Red Cross

UPDATE: May 4, 2017 - Another Colorado volunteer heading to Missouri
Red Cross photo from the flood response in
Missouri, January 2016. 

Les Orser - a licensed counselor who volunteers for the Red Cross of Western Colorado will travel to Missouri to help people affected by the Missouri Floods. Orser is a long time disaster responder and will work with the Disaster Mental Health team to provide emotional support to the people in Missouri who have been devastated by the ongoing flooding. 


The American Red Cross of Colorado & Wyoming is sending disaster staff and volunteers to Missouri to help with the flood recovery efforts.

Darcie Wisehart will deploy to serve on the Disaster Mental Health team. Her role is to work with the people affected and the deployed Red Cross volunteers to support their emotional needs. Wiseheart is a volunteer with the Red Cross Wyoming chapter and lives in Greybull, WY. This will be her third deployment in less than 12 months.

Patricia Cook is a Red Cross nurse and will deploy to Missouri to help those affected and Red Cross volunteers deployed to the region with their health and wellness needs. Cook is a volunteer with the Red Cross of Western Colorado and lives in Montrose, CO. This will be her second deployment.

The Red Cross responds to 66,000 disasters each year. The best way to help people affected by disasters, both big and small, is to donate to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. People can donate to our Disaster Relief Fund at 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767) or, or simply text the word redcross to 90999 to donate $10 through your mobile carrier. Charges will apply to your mobile phone bill the following month.

To see the latest news about how you can help the Red Cross help the hundreds of people that have lost everything due the recent tornadoes and floods go to:

Red Cross Mile High Youth Advisory Board Seeking Applicants - Deadline May 31, 2017

2016-2017 Mile High Youth Advisory Board
Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "Everybody can be great because everybody can serve." The great thing about this statement is it doesn't say "if you're old enough" or "if you're young enough" says EVERYBODY. 

Here in the Mile High area we are calling all students with a passion for community service, taking initiative in their leadership positions, and enthusiasm for working with others to produce a positive means of changing their community.

The American Red Cross Mile High Youth Advisory Board is looking for rising freshmen and sophomores. As a part of the American Red Cross, accepted applicants will be a part of one of the largest humanitarian organizations in the world at the highest level in Colorado AND Wyoming. 

Accepted applicants will oversee Red Cross youth activities across the Colorado-Wyoming region, working closely with regional headquarters in Denver. Students will have opportunities to gain professional development, leadership, project planning and facilitation skills. Accepted applicants will be able to work with a wide range of Red Cross personnel, planning activities for fellow youth volunteers, and leading in non-profit setting. Thinking of college? Seeing the American Red Cross name on any application will greatly boost one's chances of being accepted and receiving scholarships!

Accepted applicants must commit to monthly meetings at Mile High Area Regional Headquarters in Denver (444 Sherman St, Denver, CO 80203), be it by virtual or in-person means. Prospective applicants must also commit to continuous correspondence with other board members through group messaging, conference calls, and/or email between meetings. 

  1. Visit and complete the online orientation.
  2. Register on Volunteer Connection here. Scroll down and click "Youth Application". Follow this process. 
  3. Start your application in the meantime and submit before the deadline, regardless of whether you are done registering.
More information on the Mile High Youth Advisory Board can be found here, and take a look at to learn more about the organization, its values, and lines of service.

The application can be accessed at: MHC Youth Application

Applications are due on May 31st, 2017, 11:59 MST - Please email Ashley Turner prior to the deadline for additional information regarding the submission process.