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Five Red Cross Chapters Receive FEMA Recognition

Disaster Response
They serve as a model for communities everywhere.

Five American Red Cross chapters have received Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) 2012 Individual and Community Preparedness Awards for their efforts to make communities safer, stronger and better prepared for any disaster or emergency event.

Red Cross awardees include American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter, San Francisco, California, for their Ready Neighborhoods program, and American Red Cross of the Poconos, Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, for their Kids Home Alone Emergency Preparedness Workshops.

Receiving honorable mention were:

  • American Red Cross Mississippi Region, Jackson, Mississippi, Promising Partnerships category for their Pillowcase Project: Resilient and Ready Workshop;
  • American Red Cross Nashville Area Chapter, Tennessee, Preparing the Whole Community Category for their Empowering the Whole Community program
  • American Red Cross Mile High Region, Denver, Colorado, Innovative Use of Technology Category for the Save a Life Denver program
  • “These chapters are real leaders in building prepared and resilient communities,” said Russ Paulsen, executive director, Community Preparedness and Resilience Services for the Red Cross. “Those of us who have spent time with families whose lives were turned upside down by disaster know how critical preparedness is, and it’s great to see several of our innovative chapter preparedness programs recognized this year.”

    “It has been shown time and time again that after a disaster, the very first responders are our neighbors,” said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. “The award recipients promote preparedness across America’s communities – the bedrock of our national resiliency. I commend each and every one of the awardees for their service and innovation. They serve as a model for communities everywhere.”

    The Bay Area Red Cross won in the category of Preparing the Whole Community for working in 50 vulnerable neighborhoods to help residents get ready for disasters. As a pilot site for the new Community Resilience Strategy, the chapter brought people together to create networks of resilience. The chapter trained more than 14,000 individuals in lifesaving skills such as disaster preparedness, hands-only CPR and basic first aid. Resources on how to be prepared were created in Mandarin, Cantonese, Spanish, Vietnamese, Tagalog, and Tongan for immigrant communities.

    The Red Cross of the Poconos won in the Awareness to Action category for the Kids Home Alone Emergency Preparedness Workshops, which teach elementary school students about different disasters and how to be safe. More than 500 fifth grade students from the East Stroudsburg School District took part in eight interactive preparedness “stations” where they learned about different disaster risks, how to prepare family plans and build emergency kits, as well as what to do when an emergency occurs. The program included hands-on activities, videos, experiments, games, displays and interaction with Red Cross and local 911 Center volunteers.

    The Pillowcase Project: Resilient and Ready Workshop in Mississippi was originally created to help children after Hurricane Katrina. Over the past 18 months, more than 4,750 children created their own evacuation pillowcase, labeled with things they should bring if they need to evacuate for a hurricane and decorated by each child. The project not only provides them with a pillowcase to serve as a personal kit, but also gives them tools to help them deal with disasters. Using the new Community Resilience Strategy, the South Mississippi chapter and its network partners were able to offer the pillowcase project for the first time to children in especially vulnerable communities in two rural Mississippi towns.

    In the Nashville area, the Red Cross helped improved communications for members of the community who are deaf or hard of hearing, as well as members of immigrant communities. Following the principles of the Community Resilience Strategy, the Red Cross identified a community need and worked with partner organizations to develop training to help residents be prepared and to resolve community issues, such as having durable medical equipment available during a disaster, providing mental health support, training disaster volunteers and training communities to be prepared.

    The Mile High Region’s Save A Life Denver, Colorado program has engaged the whole community of Denver in increasing the survival rate among cardiac arrest victims by increasing access to AEDs and training citizen responders in CPR/AED skills. More than 1,100 automated external defibrillators (AED) were placed around the state of Colorado, with almost 800 in the Denver area alone. Several thousand citizen responders have been trained in CPR/AED skills. The three program components include ensuring access to the AEDs by placing them in high use areas; training citizen responders in CPR/AED skills, and educating the public about the AEDs, their effectiveness and ease of use through large scale media and educational campaigns. 

    Tags: Prepare.
    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. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.