PUBLISHED: 3:57 PM on Tuesday, September 26, 2006
American Red Cross offers aid for various situations
A family of six lost their home and all of their belongings. A service man's father had heard that his son was hurt in Iraq - the father received a message about his son's well-being. An employee at a grocery store collapsed and received first aid.

They all benefited from American Red Cross of Alaska programs. Our multi-faceted services include responding to disasters like Katrina and the World Trade Center attacks. The American Red Cross also responds to "silent" disasters. Single family house fires may not even make the news, but the Red Cross is there to provide those families with food, clothing and temporary housing. We also send people to help support the firefighters and other on-scene responders. By supplying them with a rest area and water, they are able to accomplish their jobs more efficiently and in greater safety.

Whether it is something as large as the Hooper Bay disaster or a fire that affects only one person, the American Red Cross of Alaska knows that there is no such thing as a small disaster, and we seek to respond to every disaster in Alaska with the same support whether that disaster is located near one of our offices or somewhere in the bush.

Recent deployments of our National Guard have created a large demand for our Armed Forces Emergency Services. We are the emergency link between the Guard and their families. Whether it is a concerned parent wondering why they haven't heard from their service member in a month, a wife wanting to let her husband know that she had a baby, or a member of the family trying to get the sad news of a death to the service member, people in the Armed Forces will know that the American Red Cross will be there.

The American Red Cross is not just here to respond to emergencies, we are here to help people prepare for them, too. Our CPR and First Aid classes are designed to help people know what constitutes an emergency and how to react to the situation. By checking the scene, people are able to keep themselves safe and see what the possible causes of the emergency were. By checking the victim, they are able to ascertain the extent of the injuries. Calling 9-1-1 is the next step and the most important taught in any class - getting that advanced medical care to the scene is the most important thing anyone can do. Then we teach how to provide the necessary care.

We offer Wilderness First Aid classes, CPR for the Professional Rescuer and Babysitter's Training for those 11 to 15 years old.

The world around us can appear unpredictable at times but together we can learn the necessary skills to respond to emergencies with confidence and hope. The American Red Cross offers training in preparing for and responding to disasters such as earthquakes, avalanches, short-range tsunamis and fires - we can prepare for all of these. By making a plan, building a kit and getting trained, we can make our lives more worry-free.

The only way that we are able to accomplish all of this is through the hard work and dedication of our volunteers and your donations. The American Red Cross is a volunteer-led organization. Volunteers respond to fires, do paperwork, teach classes and are considered staff. The sheer numbers of volunteers allow us to use about 92 percent of every dollar donated for those affected by disasters.

But without your support of time and money, we would not be able to help people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. So as we come to the end of September we hope and encourage all people of our community to make a plan, get trained and be prepared.

Governed by volunteers and supported by community donations, the American Red Cross of Alaska is dedicated to saving lives and helping Alaskans prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. Led by over 1,500 volunteers and 27 employees, last year the American Red Cross of Alaska mobilized relief to over 1,050 Alaskans affected by disaster, trained over 32,000 people in lifesaving skills and taught over 78,500 Alaskans how to be better prepared for disasters.