2 minute readHealth & Safety

One of These Things is Not Like the Others

Read Erin’s first post here.

As promised in last week’s post, today I’d like to share with you the experience I had here in Texas that indirectly resulted in my becoming a blogger for the Red Cross.

If you’ve read my introduction, you already know that I’ve been involved with the Red Cross for more than 20 years. Nearly every class I’ve taken (outside of college), every certification I’ve received, and all of the volunteer work I’ve done has been through the Red Cross. Additionally, my entire professional career has been with the Red Cross. Keep this in mind as I go on…

This fall both of my kids attend preschool on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. As much as I’d like to return to work at the Red Cross, doing so isn’t in the cards right now thanks to my kids’ half-day school schedule. This half-day school schedule does allow me, however, to substitute teach.

To prepare for the upcoming school year, all of the lead and assistant teachers, as well as any substitute teachers who were interested, attended a child CPR/AED and first aid certification class. My Red Cross certifications in these areas had just expired, so recertifying by sitting through the class – even though I’ve taken and taught it countless times – seemed like a good idea.

The instructor rose and walked to the front of the room. She introduced herself, and hit play on the DVD player to introduce the, wait for it, AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION Child CPR/AED and First Aid course. (Insert collective gasp here.)

Though the American Red Cross/American Heart Association rivalry isn’t as well known or vicious as say, the Boston Red Sox/New York Yankees rivalry, it’s a rivalry just the same. The two organizations have the same overarching goal – to train as many people as possible in the lifesaving skills of CPR, AED, and first aid – but are constantly competing with one another to be the most-trusted and most-used heart health and safety organization.

Sitting through the American Heart Association CPR course was brutal for me, a Red Crosser for two thirds of my life. I felt guilty and uneasy, and I kept looking over my shoulder, expecting to see my Red Cross peeps scowling at me from the dark shadows in the corners.

When I finally finished my last cycle of 30 compressions and two breaths – and saved my mannequin’s life, thank you very much – I grabbed my certification and raced out of the building, fearing that if I stopped to converse with anyone I’d end up having to “explain myself”. As I climbed into my car, I knew I had to make my way back to the Red Cross one way or another, if not as an employee, than as a volunteer.

One of these things is not like the others.

I’m curious – what led you to the Red Cross? What inspired you to become a part of the organization the first time around? What inspired you to return to the organization after time away?

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  1. My first experience as a Red Cross volunteer wasn’t as a Red Cross volunteer. To explain that . . . I went to Katrina as an amateur radio operator, recruited by an agreement between the ARC and the national amateur radio organization, the ARRL.

    Once I was processed through Montgomery just like all the Red Cross volunteers and put on an ERV to provide communications, no one from the general public would have known that I had no affiliation with the Red Cross. At one point in the deployment, the ERV coordinator told us ham radio volunteers that the ARC would pay for our gas money — we had come down completely on our own. So when we out-processed, we were told to take the expense voucher back with us and file it at our local chapter.

    I didn’t even know if I had a local chapter, but when I returned home I dutifully filled out the form, looked in the local phone book, and visited my local (tiny) chapter. At that point there was an almost audible sucking sound as I was sucked into the organization, and I’ve been a volunteer ever since.

    So I don’t know if the Hattisburg chapter had “malice aforethought” by doing this, or if it just happened . . . but that’s how I got my start.

    Steve Bonine
    Territory Manager, C6 Territory

  2. On this day Oct 5th the first anniversary of my best friend, and brother Ken lost his fight with lung cancer I know he is proud of my platelet donations every month when I lay there and donate x3 each time I think of him and thoughts of good times come to mind. I miss you lots.

  3. When I was 5 years old my dad was in a terrible accident on a motor cycle. He was hit and pretty much left there for dead. When the couple got to the hospital they then reported the rack. He was in critical condition and need 168 units of blood. Was told he would not make it for two weeks. If he did he would be a paralyzed for the rest of his life. My father health then turned for the better!! He ended up going to therapy and walking out of the hospital. Living a normal life and having 4 kids. He was able to see grand kids be born all because of the American Red Cross. I know work at the American Red Cross as a CSR I couldn’t think of a better organization to be associated with! I love my job and what we stand for!!!

  4. Erin I feel your emotion!!! Except from the instructor point of view…
    I learned to swim with the Red Cross because someone drowned. My dad was fishing on the coast of Oregon. He watched a small young boy catch his fish, but get quickly pulled overboard. The boy’s dad jumped in after him, but sad to report neither came home that day.
    I was only about 4-years old and my sister 3-years old. My dad told mom “my girls need to know how to swim”. We stayed in swim lessons until about 5th grade and then joined the swim team. As a protective dad of his girls, he encouraged us to continue as we grew. I took the RC Junior Lifesaving course at the age of 13-years. And it went on from there… lifeguarding, swim instructor, RC instructor trainer. I have even been blessed to volunteer and work for our 2 neighboring Chapters. I’m still certified and teach the Red Cross programs today- 39 years later.
    I find myself, here in our community, with so many requirements and options for training. I am enrolled in an American Heart Association CPR/AED/FA instructor course here in November. I have to say, I’m a little afraid I might not be ready for the changes, sad that not everyone wants RC training only, and confused to if I’m splitting my loyalty.
    Erin, I’m not sure if you have found the Red Cross 7 Fundamental Principles yet. Although “neutrality” was the cornerstone they began, I have chosen to live my life by all 7 principles with the strongest level of integrity to support me. I really am a strong believer in doing the right thing, pass it forward and give to receive. Thank you for sharing your class experience and emotions about it. I will think of you in November, during my AHA class. Thanks for allowing me to share ~t

  5. Erin,

    That’s too funny that you went through American Heart Association training for the first time this year. I had the same experience. I had heard for years that the Red Cross trained the new medical students at Michigan in CPR/AED during orientation and was super excited to get trained by the Red Cross (albeit for the millionth time it seems) at my medical school orientation this year. After being President of the Red Cross Club and working with the local chapter I was definitely looking forward to the training. That was until they handed me my CPR/AED review book and it was for the American Heart Association. I was mortified!! I survived though, and officially have BLS for the health care provider certification through the AHA. Still not giving up my Red Cross training yet 🙂

  6. In the beginning I had learned CPR in order to help care for family members. Then during the Wildfires of 1998 in Florida I became a disaster services volunteer. Within a few years I was a volunteer Disaster Services instructor and a Health and Safety instructor.

    Since then I have trained hundreds of people in Emergency Response, CPR Laymen, CPR Professional Rescuer, First Aid, Blood-borne Pathogens and HIV prevention. I used CPR on my own mother and infant choking to save my grandson. I have used life saving techniques on friends and strangers.

    I am so thankful for being able to help because of my training. Plus being an American Red Cross volunteer is one of the most rewarding things you can do.

  7. I feel your pain! As a fellow long time Red Crosser, I too can remember a single time when my loyalty was challenged – it was painful. But, however disheartening it must have felt, we all forgive you and do not fault you!

    I began my Red Cross journey at a very young age and without knowing I was involved with the organization at all. I took “Learn to Swim” swimming lessons at our local beach and then at our pool. It was the beginning of my love of the water, which is ultimately what led me down a Red Cross path. When I was old enough, and a good enough swimmer, I was able to join swim team and I began assisting the lifeguards at the pool with their lessons. I loved it! So, I took the American Red Cross Lifeguard class. This secured me a FABULOUS summer job at the pool, but I wasn’t able to teach lessons without my Water Safety Instructor certificate. Thus, another Red Cross called my name… After this one, I maintained my Lifeguarding, First Aid, CPR/AED for the Professional Rescuer, and WSI certifications for a number of years and worked at a many different pools until I arrived in Peoria, Illinois with my husband six years ago. In an attempt to transfer my authorization to this chapter, I ended up becoming a Red Cross Instructor. I now work part time for the Red Cross, teaching First Aid, CPR/AED for Adults, Children, Infants and Professional Rescuers, Bloodborne Pathogens, Lifeguarding, Water Safety Instructor and my newest accomplishment – I have become an Instructor Trainer. I am also the Authorized Provider for the school where I teach second grade.

    What I love most about the Red Cross, and what keeps me connected and coming back for more, is the genuine attitude and supportive nature of the organization. With such a lofty and undeniably important goal in mind, they work through some of the most difficult situations to help others. While the Red Cross is not my career or even where I work most of the time, it has given me the support I have needed to succeed within the organization itself, and it has given me the training to succeed within a variety of other areas of my life.

    Thank you to the American Red Cross.

    I look forward to reading your future posts! – Sara

  8. Hi everybody i want to know how i will be a volunteer in The American Red Cross to share in all social helps that’s my grand father was here in morocco i want to be like him i love to make all my life for helping people.

  9. I started with the Red Cross after I had to take a CPR class for work. After I graduated college and was in limbo with the Navy I got to thinking about a message I had gotten well deployed. I was able to get in touch with my family when I need them most. Today I’m an active disaster volunteer, and an employee with Service to Armed Forces.

  10. So what?, I got both..You need to chill man!! Both good classes to have. Thank-god for theses classes, many people have been saved from CPR. Thanks for doing the classes too. And 20 Years in nothing. I started teaching in 1977; CPR classes. I was a medic in Vietnam become a physician assistant, and I taught CPR to all the nurse and paramedics in the area. Have a great week!