You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

Red Cross Nurses Put Lives on Hold to Help Disaster Victims

Red Cross volunteer nurse Suzanne Onstine

Red Cross volunteer nurse Suzanne Onstine is spending her days helping people impacted by the tornadoes that recently hit the Southeast.

Volunteers make up 94 percent of the total Red Cross workforce.

When disasters strike, the American Red Cross sends in trained workers from all over the country to help people recover and rebuild their lives. Many of these workers are volunteers who put their lives on hold to report to the disaster scene and lend a hand.

Volunteers make up 94 percent of the total Red Cross workforce. They give their time to help the organization carry out its humanitarian work. Depending on when they deploy, for many it can mean missing holidays, birthdays and other important days in their lives.

When tornadoes devastated communities across the south recently, volunteer Red Cross nurses answered the call for help. One nurse who deployed says the good the Red Cross does in disaster situations outweigh the personal inconvenience.

“I love doing what I do,” says Suzanne Onstine, a volunteer nurse from the Tampa, Florida area who deployed to Tupelo to help after the tornadoes. She was joined by 14 nurses from the Northeast Mississippi Chapter to provide health services to people affected by the storms, as well as the other volunteers working at the scene. The work, Onstine says, involves helping treat people injured during the storm, taking care of scrapes and bruises people incur as they clean up their properties along with assisting people with chronic conditions such as diabetes.

Onstine is separated from her family while she helps the storm victims, but she isn’t concerned. “Since I live in Tampa, if I was impacted by a hurricane and needed help, I would hope someone would help me,” she said.

The Red Cross helps people through emergency situations every day. Whether it’s one displaced family, thousands of disaster victims, or providing care and comfort to an ill or injured service member or veteran or support to a military family member, volunteers allow the Red Cross to support those in need.

If you would like to help, there are many ways you can serve your community as a Red Cross volunteer. Our volunteers represent various backgrounds, talents and skill levels. Visit the information on this web site to learn more about the important role volunteers play for the Red Cross.

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.