My American Red Cross Anniversary

This past Saturday, October 5, was my 12-year anniversary with the American Red Cross. How did this happen?  Where did the time go?

When I tried to write about it, words failed. Or, rather, words poured out of my pen in an endless, meandering stream: lots of words, not much sense.

So I got ambitious and turned the past twelve years into a simple infographic. (Click on the graphic to get a better view.) There are the long-term projects that lasted weeks, months or years, and the one-off emergency responses that lasted only a few days–often just one day.

ARC Infographic 2

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Answering “What If?”

Unanswered questions are scary. That’s what I scrawled in my blog notebook back in October after I gave a Ready New York presentation in Brooklyn, not far from where a tornado had touched down a few days earlier. Tornadoes are rare in this part of the country, but every couple of years we have a small one. Or, in this case, two—one in Brooklyn and another in Queens.

EncouragementSomeone at the presentation had said she knew emergency preparedness is important, but thinking about possible emergencies scared her. I can’t help but agree. Sometimes watching the news is scary, but I believe that the only way to take the fear out of “What if?” is to answer it-and then do whatever is necessary to be ready if “What if?” happens.

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My Proudest Moment

In case you didn’t know, March is American Red Cross Month, as it has been every year since 1943.

On March 1 the Cape Fear Chapter tweeted an intriguing question: “What is your favorite experience with the Red Cross?” After almost nine and a half years, it’s difficult to think about a favorite experience. Perhaps handing out hot chocolate at the Brooklyn Bridge on the last day of the 2005 New York City transit strike. We’d just heard that the strike was over and transit would be running again the next morning, so it took on a party atmosphere. It was cold that evening, but the hot chocolate and the end of the strike made it better. Then a young woman came down the ramp from the Bridge, cell phone clasped to her ear, and squealed into the phone, “It’s the Red Cross… and they have hot chocolate!!!” (We don’t always get such immediate gratification on the larger disasters.)

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Rubber Walls, Infinite Chairs

Think of a really good presentation you attended recently. What made it good?

For me, the top criteria are an interesting speaker (or panel) and lots of relevant audience participation. There are lots of other things that can enhance the event, but if the featured speaker(s) aren’t knowledgeable and engaging or the audience looks like they’re dozing off, not much is going to help.

Let me introduce you to Twitter chats. The idea of holding an online presentation on Twitter is so ridiculously simple that I participated in my first only two days after signing up for a Twitter account. And it was huge! It introduced me to people I wanted to follow on Twitter and a bunch more who followed me. I even discovered a former real-life colleague in the stream! It made me think that Twitter chats might be the best thing about Twitter; almost four months and more than 2,000 tweets later, I’m convinced.

Here’s what happened: Immediately after joining Twitter I heard that the American National Red Cross would be holding a conference in Washington, DC, with live video stream and a Twitter chat. (It was officially called the Emergency Social Data Summit, but is usually referred to by its hashtag, #crisisdata.) Being new to Twitter, I thought the chat might be interesting, but expected the video would be most useful. Ha!

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