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Be Red Cross Ready University

Albany 10/2/12 Be Red Cross Ready University

Students at the University at Albany (UAlbany) are learning more than academics and athletics this semester. The American Red Cross Northeastern New York Region (ARCNENY) has partnered with CDPHP® on a new initiative to expand its disaster preparedness education programming to college campuses; aptly named Be Red Cross Ready University (BRCRU).

The BRCRU kickoff event was held at UAlbany’s Campus Center on Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - to culminate September being designated as National Preparedness Month. Students in attendance participated in a Red Cross disaster preparedness presentation, learned hands-only CPR, and challenged each other’s knowledge with games such as “Preparedness Family Feud,” “Be Red Cross Ready Jeopardy,” and the “Make-a-Kit Relay.”

Phil Nasca, Dean of UAlbany’s School of Public Health welcomed Gary Striar, CEO of the American Red Cross Northeastern New York Region; Dr. John D. Bennett, president and CEO, CDPHP; Colleen Dundas, American Red Cross Northeastern New York Regional Preparedness Associate; Skip Zimmerman, American Red Cross Northeastern New York Regional Director of Volunteer and Community Service; University at Albany Residence Life staff and students.

“We understand how critical education and awareness are to emergency preparedness and that is why UAlbany is so pleased to be the first University participating in Be Red Cross Ready University,” said Nasca.

The UAlbany Residence Life staff has been trained by the Red Cross and will be presenting BRCRU to students in the dorms throughout the 2012 fall semester. The program teaches anyone how to be prepared for anything from a fire to a larger scale natural disaster through three simple and effective steps: Get a Kit, Make a Plan, and Be Informed.

The program is offered exclusively by the Northeastern New York Region's Preparedness Team and is an offshoot of the informative Be Red Cross Ready program, which is sponsored by CDPHP. This is the first Red Cross preparedness program, geared specifically at college campuses, to be conducted anywhere in the United States

“As a community-based health plan, we believe in empowering people with the tools and information they need to make the right decisions. That is why we’re proud to once again partner with the American Red Cross on this valuable initiative which provides critical life-saving techniques to colleges and universities,” said John D. Bennett, president and CEO, CDPHP.

BRCRU is the brainchild of Colleen Dundas, ARCNENY Regional Preparedness Associate and UAlbany alumnus. The BRCRU program offers a simple solution to help colleges and universities be prepared for natural disasters and empower students to take responsibility for their own safety in times of emergency.

It is based on Dundas’ experience as a Resident Advisor (RA) during her undergraduate years at the University at Albany. She started the University’s first Red Cross Club, serving as president for two years. After graduating in 2011, Dundas was hired by ARCNENY and became immersed in delivering preparedness programs to the community.

“BRCRU came about because I wanted to provide students with more volunteer opportunities, create a stronger connection between universities/colleges and the local Red Cross and provide more services to the community,” said Dundas. “We were looking for a way to expand the Be Red Cross Ready program to reach out to as many people as possible.”

The groups that were benefitting from preparedness training via Be Red Cross Ready thus far were families, K-12 students/youth groups and seniors. “It occurred to me that college students are a great untapped resource,” said Dundas.

“This is a really exciting program, not only in the way it engages young people with the American Red Cross mission, but also because it directly and positively impacts a vulnerable population, assisting them to become more prepared for disasters small and large,” said Skip Zimmerman, ARCNENY Volunteer & Community Services Director.

“I’m especially mindful of the fact that we’ve had a number of fires in Capital District student housing in the past few years,” adds Zimmerman. “I’m confident that families and loved ones will rest easier knowing that students are engaged in this sort of conversation just as they are starting to learn about independent living.”

It is because of the residence life staff’s leadership and strong presence in most campus communities that the Red Cross believes reaching out to residential life is an effective way to disseminate this life-saving information to students.

“We feel that college residential life staff members and Red Cross College Clubs are in ideal positions to spread the word about disaster preparedness. Because of their role as leaders on college campuses, these students are able to gather a group of students in one place through meetings and programs, and have the potential to be extremely influential among their peers,” said Dundas.

ARCNENY’s goal is to train as many people as possible in disaster preparedness, so to minimize the amount of devastating when natural disasters occur. The Red Cross can’t prevent the devastation that occurs from a disaster, but they are always able to help the community prepare. Through BRCRU, students will have the knowledge and tools to be prepared and informed, which will make them better able to serve themselves and their community in the event of a disaster.

“We’re very fortunate to have so many dedicated and talented people in the Red Cross. Be Red Cross Ready University is an innovative and unique program which I hope will someday serve as a national model,” said Gary Striar, CEO American Red Cross Northeastern New York Region. “It’s a great way to engage the next generation of leaders by teaching them the importance of being prepared and sharing all of the programs and services the Red Cross offers to the community.”

Other colleges which have received training in BRCRU within ARCNENY’s region include: SAGE, Union College, SUNY New Paltz and Plattsburgh State.

For more information visit or call (518) 458-8111 ext. 5121.

Be Red Cross Ready Background:

In August 2007, CDPHP and the American Red Cross Northeastern New York Region launched the Get Ready - Be Safe disaster readiness program. This program, now dubbed the “Be Red Cross Ready” program, provides critical information to those who are interested in learning basic, yet effective, survival techniques in the event of an emergency, illness outbreak, or natural disaster. Through this program, the American Red Cross offers training workshops throughout the Norhteastern New York Region, as a community service.

The 45-minute workshop is intended to increase awareness and spur attendees to action by providing important information and commonsense tips for facing the challenges of a disaster or emergency. The program covers fundamental survival tactics, such as creating a personal disaster response plan, assembling a preparedness kit, and devising an action checklist, and provides the knowledge and tools required to help keep families safe, calm, and assured in the event of an urgent situation.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies more than 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. For more information, please visit or join our blog at

About CDPHP®

Established in 1984, CDPHP is a physician-founded, member-focused and community-based not-for-profit health plan that offers high-quality affordable health insurance plans to members in 24 counties throughout New York. CDPHP is also on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

About University at Albany

Educationally and culturally, the University at Albany-SUNY puts "The World Within Reach" for its more than 17,500 students. An internationally recognized research university with 50 undergraduate majors and 125 graduate degree programs, UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as public policy, nanotechnology and criminal justice. With a curriculum enhanced by 300 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers. Visit UAlbany’s extensive roster of faculty experts. For more news, subscribe to UAlbany's RSS feed, or follow the University on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.