By Mimi Teller
While many of us are fast asleep at 5:00 a.m. on the first day of January, American Red Cross First-Aid volunteer Genesis Aguilar is hard at work. Along with more than a hundred fellow volunteers skilled in basic life support, Genesis starts her year ready to respond to emergency medical calls.
Since 1964, Red Cross First-Aid Station volunteers trained as emergency medical responders (EMR) are the first line of response at the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California, and throughout the year at many Rose Bowl Stadium events. EMR volunteers’ presence at these large-scale gatherings help minimize the consequences of injury or sudden illness for all in attendance.
Every New Years, Red Cross assembles and staffs over a dozen first aid stations across the five-mile parade route, along with teams of volunteers patrolling alongside the parade making their presence known. If someone needs help, EMR volunteers can quickly and easily be flagged down and provide medical care ranging from band-aids to life-sustaining support until more advanced medical help arrives.
“The Red Cross was willing to give me the resources and education I needed to give back to my community”, Genesis shared. “I have an interest in medicine and health science and the Red Cross trained me in a way that means something to me.”
Genesis originally joined the Red Cross youth board as a senior in high school. As the director of activities and fund raising, Genesis planned activities to facilitate bonding between the board and youth volunteers. Soon she learned about the opportunity to train as an EMR, a sixty-hour certification course that prepared her for volunteering as a first responder.
Of the four Rose Parades where Genesis volunteered, most of the medical attention she was called on to provide resulted from exhaustion and dehydration. She recalled one year, however, when the parade was over and her entire EMR team was packed-up and loaded in their van ready to leave, when someone knocked on Genesis’ car window holding up a very bloody hand.
Genesis grabbed a first-aid kit and got to work, while the gentleman explained he was picking up trash when an aluminum can cut the skin between his thumb and index finger. Genesis cleaned and bandaged the cut, then advised her patient to go to the hospital for stitches.
“It’s fulfilling to know I have the knowledge and skills to help people in so many different situations; I can apply my Red Cross training both inside and outside my volunteer work.”
To learn more about volunteering, visit redcross.org/volunteer.