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Volunteer for Iowa State Fair Red Cross First Aid Stations Hopes to Become More Involved

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"I love the people" - Carla Johnson, Red Cross volunteer, medical coordinator

American Red Cross volunteers spend many hours and days dedicating time and skills at the Red Cross First Aid Stations at the Iowa State Fair, but for the other months of the year, they lead normal lives, sometimes in related medical professions.

Carla Johnson has been a Red Cross volunteer at the fair for 12 years. There, she serves as a medical coordinator, but for her formal job, she works in OB labor and delivery at Skiff Medical Center in Newton. For the week, she is devoting her time to the state fair, but on a daily basis, she is spending anywhere from four to 12 hours at the hospital.

“It makes it hard because to want to go out to the disasters and stuff, but know that I can’t because of work problems,” she said.

Johnson expressed her wish is to be a full-time volunteer for the Red Cross, but with her schedule, time simply doesn’t permit this. After she retires from the medical center, she clarifies she’ll work more with the Red Cross as a volunteer.

During the fair, she had a few days where she went back to her permanent occupation. In Newton, she was again busy at the medical center delivering two babies. The next day, she was back at work at the Red Cross First Aid Station and was delighted to share the exciting news with her fellow volunteers.

In her 12 years as a fair volunteer, though, one specific event has not yet happened, but Johnson hopes this will soon change.

“My goal is to deliver a baby here before I retire from doing the state fair,” she only partially jokes. “Believe me, I watch every pregnant person that walks by. It’s on my bucket list.”

She says it’s feasible, so every year, she’ll continue to watch the soon-to-be mothers as they walk past the first aid stations.

One would think Johnson’s favorite part of working at the first aid station is to use her expert medical skills to help those in need, but she confessed she truly loves simply getting to know the various people of the fair.

“I love the people,” she said. “I feel comfortable walking around and talking to them, and that’s why I come back every year.”