The Red Cross is the nation’s leading provider of health and safety courses, such as CPR, first aid and lifeguard training. Each year, more than 9 million Americans participate in these training programs, including first responders, educators—even babysitters—and, generally, people who want to be prepared to help others in an emergency. The Red Cross is part of the world’s largest humanitarian network with 13 million volunteers in 187 countries. Working together, they help respond to disasters and build safer communities in reaching more than 100 million people around the world.
In the United States, the Red Cross helps military members, veterans and their families prepare for, cope with, and respond to the challenges of military service. Emergency communications, training, support to wounded warriors and veterans, and access to community resources help an average of 150,000 military families and veterans each year. Of course, blood donations are the first thing a person thinks of about the Red Cross which is the nation’s largest single supplier of blood and blood products. Each year, nearly 4 million people donate blood through the Red Cross, helping to provide more than 40 percent of America’s blood supply.
The military care aspect of Red Cross’ work often serves as assistance to services provided by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Since 9/11, the Red Cross has served more than 1 million military families in the form of home comforts and critical services on bases and in military hospitals at home and around the world. Often these are emergency communications to tens of thousands of military members and their families. Military assistance can include emergency travel, burial of a loved one, and emergency food and shelter.
Assisting military members and families
The Red Cross has launched an online emergency message system for military families and service members to provide official verification of homefront emergencies, such as the death of a family member or the birth of a child. As well, military commanders often use Red Cross verification system to help them make decisions about whether or not to grant a troop emergency leave during a deployment. The Red Cross processes more than 1,000 calls a day from their emergency military hotline.
Claros emphasized that, like regular volunteers, blood donors are ordinary people who step in when needed. These persons can be students, factory and office workers, business executives, parents and grandparents—folks from every walk of life—who share a generous spirit and a desire to give back to the community and help others. Each year, approximately 5.6 million blood donations are collected by the Red Cross. Within that figure, about 3.3 million persons serve as volunteer blood donors who “roll up their sleeve” and give blood each year. More than 8 million transfusible blood products are distributed each year. As well, 2,700 American hospitals and transfusion centers receive Red Cross products each year. Many lifesaving medical treatments and procedures involve blood transfusions and would not be possible without a safe and reliable blood supply. The Red Cross was among the first organizations to develop and implement testing for many infectious diseases, including HIV and hepatitis B and C viruses.