Red Cross Already Helping Americans Move Safely into the Next Millennium
WASHINGTON, December 22, 1999 -- American Red Cross Disaster Services, Blood Services regions and Armed Forces Emergency Services (AFES) are ready for Y2K and are prepared to respond to disruptions that may occur across the nation. From Guam in the Pacific through the mainland United States, the Caribbean Island territories and back to American Samoa in the Pacific, Red Cross paid and volunteer staff are prepared to respond to emergencies whether Y2K or weather-related.
"The American public has placed its trust and confidence in the American Red Cross because they know the Red Cross will be there," said Red Cross President and CEO Dr. Bernadine Healy. "For more than 118 years, the American Red Cross has been saving lives and helping people through emergencies, and as we ring in the new year, paid and volunteer staff across the country will be on alert to respond to individual and family needs as they arise. At the Red Cross, we made a promise to the American public, we'll be there, and that's a promise we intend to keep into the next millennium," said Healy.
The Red Cross service delivery network is ready to enter the year 2000. With people and supplies strategically placed and ready to move at a moment's notice, the organization is relying upon years of experience in preparing for, preventing and responding to emergencies. Following are a few examples of the level of Red Cross preparedness to meet individual community needs:
* In Philadelphia, Red Cross teams will be active in five county-operated emergency operations centers, with volunteers and supplies ready to open disaster shelters in case of a significant relocation of people due to disruptions of power service in the area.
* In Chicago, a specialized team of Red Cross workers will be standing ready to respond to any situation from an emergency control center in the chapter's headquarters.
* In San Francisco, the Red Cross chapter is staffing a phone bank in which Red Cross volunteers will be phoning 4,000 home-bound seniors and others to ensure their Y2K comfort level.
Additionally, in St. Louis, the Red Cross National Inventory Management System serves as the nerve center for Red Cross Blood Services. Staff there will monitor blood supplies at each Red Cross region and be prepared to transport blood from one region to another if necessary to meet patient needs. Blood regions across the country will be communicating what is happening in their locales with National Headquarters.
On December 31 and January 1, the state lead chapters for Disaster Services will communicate the impact of Y2K in communities in their states to the Red Cross national Disaster Operations Center (DOC) in Falls Church, VA. Communications, Logistics, Mass Care, Government Relations and additional Operations and Staffing professionals will augment the DOC's 24-hour operation beginning early New Year's Eve Day. The DOC will be fully activated from 11PM on New Year's Eve through New Year's Day in order to ensure coverage through every U.S. time zone.
This heightened activity is the culmination of a year's worth of education and planning on the Y2K issue. Since late 1997, the Red Cross has encouraged its local chapters to take an active role in communities nationwide by working with local governments, emergency management agencies and others to increase awareness and preparedness for potential Y2K disruptions. More than 7 million copies of the Red Cross Y2K preparedness brochure have been distributed nationwide. The brochure offers common sense advice and the appropriate individual and family preparedness tips. And since January 1, 1999, millions of people have visited the Red Cross Y2K preparedness page at http://www.redcross.org.
Red Cross Biomedical Services is prepared for the year 2000 and is prepared to continue collecting, processing and distributing blood and blood products throughout the holiday season and into the New Year. Red Cross Biomedical Services has invested a significant amount of financial and intellectual resources to prepare for the turn of the century. This includes systems reviews, updates and contingency plans involving vendors who support the Red Cross (e.g., blood bags, testing materials) and the Red Cross National Biomedical Computer System (NBCS). Every unit of blood is tracked by the NBCS from the time it is donated through the testing and manufacturing process until it is ultimately distributed to hospitals to meet patient needs.
The Red Cross will continue to be there to supply nearly one-half of the nation's blood supply. With the unease surrounding Y2K, volunteer blood donors and hospital customers should feel confident that the Red Cross will be there and will continue to uphold their trust during the winter holiday.
"The Red Cross relies on the generosity of volunteer blood donors to have enough blood for all patients who need it throughout the New Year holiday and the rest of the season. All eligible blood donors are encouraged to help meet patients' needs and maintain an adequate blood supply as 2000 approaches," Dr. Healy concluded.
Blood donors are encouraged to call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE or their local Red Cross Blood Services region to schedule an appointment to donate blood.
For more information about Red Cross Y2K preparedness, visit http://www.redcross.org or contact your local chapter of the American Red Cross.
The American Red Cross is dedicated to helping make families and communities safer at home and around the world. A volunteer-led humanitarian service organization operating on a budget of $2.3 billion, the American Red Cross annually mobilizes relief to the victims of more than 60,000 disasters nationwide and has been the primary supplier of lifesaving blood and blood products in the United States for more than 50 years. The Red Cross also trains more than 11.7 million people in vital lifesaving skills, provides direct health services to 2.5 million people, assists international disaster and conflict victims in more than 20 countries, and transmits more than 1.4 million emergency messages to members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families. Dr. Bernadine Healy is president and CEO of the American Red Cross.
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