AshevilleNews StoriesPete Zamplas

WNC Red Cross gives smoke alarms, sets blood drive for June 22

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Doing so in one recent case “saved four lives,” new Asheville-Mountain Area Exec. Dir. Pres. Alli Trask told The Tribune.

The American Red Cross has provided disaster relief for decades such as shelters, food and counseling for displaced families. Many local volunteers have gone to New Orleans and other disaster sites.

Red Cross states it supplies about 40 percent of emergency blood nationwide.

Locally, Operation Blood Drive in conjunction with WLOS-TV will be June 22, at various sites across the mountains, Trask said. The chapter serves about 775,000 people in the state’s 16 western-most counties.

Another non-profit, The Blood Connection, has emerged as a force in blood donations. Its officials said they took over primary contracts to supply blood to such area hospitals as Mission Health in Asheville, Pardee Hospital in Hendersonville, Park Ridge Health in Fletcher, St. Luke’s Hospital in Columbus, Greenville (S.C.) Health System and Spartanburg Regional over the past two and a half years.

A Blood Connection mobile blood collection vehicle was stationed this past, holiday weekend in such spots as the parking lot near Epic Theatres in Hendersonville.

Meanwhile, Red Cross is branching out, such as on fire safety. Get Alarmed started in this area in 2014. The goal is to slash fire fatalities and injuries by 30 percent in five years. Volunteers have installed as many as 250 alarms a day, in a door-to-door fire safety campaign in Buncombe neighborhoods and beyond in recent months.

Red Cross and AmeriCorps volunteers are among groups that have joined the Asheville Fire Department in this effort. They give smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, brochures on fire safety, and verbal tips, such as developing an emergency evacuation plan ahead of any emergency.

Studies indicate that homes have no working smoke alarms in three of every five area fire deaths, and that too many homes do not have operational detectors. Having an alarm is not enough. It is crucial to periodically hit the test button, to see that it is working properly.

A good rule of thumb is to routinely replace batteries twice yearly, coinciding with the switch to Daylight Savings Time and back to standard time. Also, if a battery has been left in for years it might have corroded and compromised connections, which should be brushed clean.

A carbon monoxide detector is a less obvious but critical protective measure. Carbon monoxide is a silent, lethal threat. Once it reaches a potent enough level, it can knock a person unconscious then soon kill the person.

Thus the key is to evacuate as soon as hearing the detector beeps, and call one’s local fire department to check the house or business for leaks.

Allison “Alli” Trask succeeded Amanda Edwards as area Red Cross executive, in December. Trask previously ran a homeless shelter in Rome, Ga., home of the Atlanta Braves Class A farm team, for nearly 10 years. On the side, the Georgia Bulldog alum advised the City of Rome and Floyd County, Ga. on housing issues.

Trask earlier served many roles with Red Cross’ Northwest Georgia Chapter such as heading the Disaster Workforce Management Team.

Now in her “dream job,” Trask is determined to carry on the Red Cross mission to “prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.”

Trask stated she values the non-profit’s “rich history” and the “amazing potential the Red Cross possesses to draw out and champion the power and spirit of grassroots and local efforts to effectuate change on a national and international level.”

Red Cross WNC Region Regional Executive Angela Broome hails Trask’s “proven abilities to develop and maintain relationships with clients from diverse backgrounds as well as with community leaders and elected officials.”

On Sunday, June 4 an appreciation picnic for Red Cross volunteers and board members will be in Carrier Park in Asheville. “We want to thank them for their help,” Trask said. “We’re staffed 90 percent by volunteers.”

Alison Gibbons organizes those volunteers. Among other officials, Hope Martin coordinates regional programs and outreach.

The chapter’s board is chaired by Kevin Watson and also consists of David English, Jamie Guillermo, Kelly Hannah, David Kozak, Courtenay Morgan, Kendra Penland and Meredith Switzer.

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