2007-01-05 / Columnists

Cross Currents

Your 2007 Resolution Should Be: Become Trained To Help Others And Be Prepared For Emergencies
By Joan Foley Director, American Red Cross Of Greater New York - Queens

JOAN A.FOLEY JOAN A.FOLEY Joan A. Foley is director of the American Red Cross in Greater New York-Queens (138-02 Queens Boulevard in Briarwood). To learn about classes, volunteer opportunities and how to support programs in the Rockaways, call 718-558-0053 or email crosscurrents@nyredcross.org . More information about the Red Cross can be found at www.nyredcross.org .

Would you know what to do if a friend or family member was choking, bleeding, in shock, or suffering a heart attack? Right now is the time for you to make a new year's resolution that might help save someone's life in 2007.

About 250,000 Americans - nearly one person every two minutes - dies from sudden cardiac arrest. Certification in CPR skills could help save the life of a family member, friend, co-worker, or stranger by preparing people to correctly and confidently respond to breathing and cardiac emergencies.


New procedures have been incorporated into the latest Red Cross cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) courses. New guidelines have been introduced to first aid courses that clearly indicate how responders with varying levels of emergency care training should proceed when treating victims for fractures, breathing difficulties and burns.

Red Cross CPR and first aid courses are offered regularly in Queens on weekdays, evenings and weekends. Many are held at our Briarwood location, and many others are offered at groups, companies and other organizations borough-wide.

Courses include adult/child/infant first aid, CPR with an automated external defibrillator (AED) component and others for the professional rescuer. Several courses are offered in Spanish.

The American Red Cross encourages everyone to be trained and certified in first aid and CPR/AED. Training with a certified instructor helps ensure that the proper knowledge and skills have been learned to respond properly during an emergency. Standard first aid certification is for three years. CPR/AED-adult certification is for one year.


A report issued by the American Red Cross in Greater New York before last summer reported that only 39 percent of New York City residents were more prepared for an emergency than a year earlier.

Queens faired better, with 43 percent of residents saying that they were more prepared than a year earlier. However, 40 percent also said they didn't have an emergency supply kit if it was needed.

No doubt that all of us can use a reality check. Are you prepared for an emergency at home, such as a fire? Or a neighborhood disaster, such as flooding, or a power outage as we saw in other parts of the borough last year? Or a major disaster, such as a major hurricane?

The Red Cross makes it easy for you to learn about emergency preparation, and we invite you to attend our free Ready New York or Prepare New York presentations.

These emergency preparedness programs teach New York City residents how to create a plan, build a supply kit and keep loved ones safe and informed during times of disaster. Participants receive an interactive CD that can be used to create a customized evacuation plan and other tools that will help any family get prepared. Also included are various brochures from the American Red Cross and the New York City Office of Emergency Management, as well as a quiz to test the attendee's emergency preparedness knowledge.

Upcoming: Red Cross Here and Now (February 28 and April 24, 6 p.m., Red Cross Queens office). This one-hour presentation explains the important programs and services, (classes, emergency preparedness programs, volunteer opportunities) that are available to residents, businesses and community organizations.

To learn more about the various programs and services in the Rockaways and throughout Queens, please contact the Red Cross Queens office at 718-558-0053 or email crosscurrents@nyredcross.org.


Dress in breathable (cotton, wool) layers so you can adjust to changing conditions.

Avoid overdressing or overexertion but cover exposed skin.

Wear a hat. Mom was right. Most of your body heat is lost through your head so wear a hat, preferably one that covers your ears.

Mittens provide more warmth to your hands than gloves. Waterproof insulated boots help avoid hypothermia or frostbite.

Sit on a blanket or cushion when outside, not on cold pavement or concrete, which can increase your risk of hypothermia.

Drink fluids. Dehydration can occur even when the temperature is below freezing

Get out of wet clothes immediately and warm the core body temperature with a blanket or warm fluids like hot cider or soup.

Avoid drinking caffeine or alcohol if you believe that you or someone you are trying to help has hypothermia or frostbite.

Recognize the symptoms of hypothermia: confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering. Recognize frostbite warning signs: gray, white or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, waxy feeling skin. For both conditions, seek medical attention immediately.

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