American Red Cross

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American Red Cross
American Red Cross logo.svg
FormationMay 21, 1881;137 years ago (1881-05-21)
Founder Clara Barton
Legal statusInstrumentality of the United States and a body corporate and politic [1]
Purpose Humanitarian aid
Headquarters American Red Cross National Headquarters
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Region served
United States
President
Gail J. McGovern [2]
Main organ
Board of Governors
Revenue
US$2,714,189,000 (2017) [3]
Website www.redcross.org

The American Red Cross (ARC), also known as The American National Red Cross, [4] is a humanitarian organization that provides emergency assistance, disaster relief, and disaster preparedness education in the United States. It is the designated US affiliate of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the United States movement to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement international humanitarian movement

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is an international humanitarian movement with approximately 17 million volunteers, members and staff worldwide which was founded to protect human life and health, to ensure respect for all human beings, and to prevent and alleviate human suffering.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Contents

The organization offers services and development programs. [5]

History and organization

Founders

The American Red Cross National Headquarters in Washington, D.C. is a National Historic Landmark. American Red Cross headquarters.JPG
The American Red Cross National Headquarters in Washington, D.C. is a National Historic Landmark.

ARC was established in Washington, D.C. on May 21, 1881, by Clara Barton. She became its first president. Barton organized a meeting on May 12 of that year at the home of Senator Omar D. Conger (R, MI). [6] Fifteen people were present at this first meeting, including Barton, Conger and Representative William Lawrence (R, OH) (who became the first vice president). [7] [8] The first local chapter was established in 1881 at the English Evangelical Lutheran Church of Dansville, New York. [9]

Clara Barton American Civil War nurse and founder of the American Red Cross

Clarissa "Clara" Harlowe Barton was a pioneering nurse who founded the American Red Cross. She was a hospital nurse in the American Civil War, a teacher, and patent clerk. Nursing education was not very formalized at that time and she did not attend nursing school, so she provided self-taught nursing care. Barton is noteworthy for doing humanitarian work at a time when relatively few women worked outside the home. She was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1973.

United States Senate Upper house of the United States Congress

The United States Senate is the upper chamber of the United States Congress, which along with the United States House of Representatives—the lower chamber—comprises the legislature of the United States. The Senate chamber is located in the north wing of the Capitol, in Washington, D.C.

Omar D. Conger American politician

Omar Dwight Conger was a U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator from the U.S. state of Michigan.

Jane Delano (1862–1919) founded the American Red Cross Nursing Service on January 20, 1910. [10]

Jane Delano American nurse

Jane Arminda Delano, born March 13, 1862 in Montour Falls, New York – died April 15, 1919 in Savenay, Loire-Atlantique, France, was a nurse and founder of the American Red Cross Nursing Service.

The American Red Cross Nursing Service was organized in 1909 by Jane Arminda Delano (1862-1919). A nurse and member of the American Red Cross, Delano organized the nursing service as the reserve of the Army Nurse Corps to be ready just before the entry of the United States into World War I. Key wartime decisions were made by Delano along with Mary Adelaide Nutting, president of the American Federation of Nurses, and Annie Warburton Goodrich, dean of the Army School of Nursing.

Clara Barton

Clara Barton (1821–1912) founded the American chapter after learning of the Red Cross in Geneva, Switzerland. In 1869, she went to Europe and became involved in the work of the International Red Cross during the Franco-Prussian War. She was determined to bring the organization to America. [11]

Franco-Prussian War significant conflict pitting the Second French Empire against the Kingdom of Prussia and its allies

The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the War of 1870, was a conflict between the Second French Empire and later the Third French Republic, and the German states of the North German Confederation led by the Kingdom of Prussia. Lasting from 19 July 1870 to 28 January 1871, the conflict was caused by Prussian ambitions to extend German unification and French fears of the shift in the European balance of power that would result if the Prussians succeeded. Some historians argue that the Prussian chancellor Otto von Bismarck deliberately provoked the French into declaring war on Prussia in order to draw the independent southern German states—Baden, Württemberg, Bavaria and Hesse-Darmstadt—into an alliance with the North German Confederation dominated by Prussia, while others contend that Bismarck did not plan anything and merely exploited the circumstances as they unfolded. None, however, dispute the fact that Bismarck must have recognized the potential for new German alliances, given the situation as a whole.

Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross Clara Barton1.jpg
Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross

Barton became President of the American branch of the society, known as the American National Red Cross in May 1881 in Washington. The first chapters opened in upstate New York, where she had connections. [12] Ultimately, John D. Rockefeller and four others donated money to help create a national headquarters near the White House. [13] Frederick Douglass, famed abolitionist and friend of Clara Barton offered advice and support as Barton sought to establish the American chapter or the global Red Cross network. As Register of Deeds for the District of Columbia, Douglass also signed the original Articles of Incorporation for the American Red Cross.

John D. Rockefeller American business magnate and philanthropist

John Davison Rockefeller Sr. was an American oil industry business magnate, industrialist, and philanthropist. He is widely considered the wealthiest American of all time, and the richest person in modern history.

White House Official residence and workplace of the President of the United States

The White House is the official residence and workplace of the President of the United States. It is located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C. and has been the residence of every U.S. President since John Adams in 1800. The term "White House" is often used as a metonym for the president and his advisers.

Frederick Douglass American social reformer, orator, writer, abolitionist and statesman

Frederick Douglass was an American social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman. After escaping from slavery in Maryland, he became a national leader of the abolitionist movement in Massachusetts and New York, gaining note for his oratory and incisive antislavery writings. In his time, he was described by abolitionists as a living counter-example to slaveholders' arguments that slaves lacked the intellectual capacity to function as independent American citizens. Northerners at the time found it hard to believe that such a great orator had once been a slave.

American Red Cross Administrative Headquarters in Washington, D.C. American Red Cross Administrative Headquarters.JPG
American Red Cross Administrative Headquarters in Washington, D.C.
American National Red Cross USA-American National Red Cross0.jpg
American National Red Cross

Barton led one of the group's first major relief efforts, a response to the September 4–6, 1881 Great Fire of 1881 (Thumb Fire) in the Thumb region of Michigan. Over 5,000 people were left homeless. The next major disaster was the Johnstown Flood, which occurred on May 31, 1889. Over 2,209 people died and thousands more were injured in or near Johnstown, Pennsylvania in one of the worst disasters in United States history.

Progressive reform

Barton was unable to build up a staff she trusted and her fundraising was lackluster. She was forced out in 1904. Professional social work experts took control and made the group a model of Progressive Era scientific reform. [14] New leader Mabel Thorp Boardman constantly consulted with senior government officials, military officers, social workers, and financiers. William Howard Taft was especially influential. They imposed an ethos of "managerialism", transforming the agency from Barton's cult of personality to an "organizational humanitarianism" ready for expansion. [15]

Organization

ARC is a nationwide network of 264 chapters and 36 blood service regions. Approximately 166,000 Red Cross volunteers, including FemaCorps and AmeriCorps members, and 30,000 employees annually mobilize relief to people affected by more than 67,000 disasters, train almost 4 million people in necessary medical skills and exchange more than a million emergency messages for U.S. military service personnel and their family members. ARC is the largest supplier of blood and blood products in the US, supplying 2,600 hospitals ( approximately 39% of the US blood supply). The charity also assists victims of international disasters and conflicts worldwide, connecting separated family members. In 2006, the organization had over $6 billion in total revenues, though revenues have fallen since Katrina. At that time, revenue from blood and blood products alone was over $2 billion - biological services generally represents about 63% of total operating expenses, though the unit often operates at a deficit.

The American Red Cross is divided into five divisions: Disaster Services, Blood Services, Training Services, International Services, and Service to the Armed Forces.

Chairpersons

Leadership

Recent presidents and CEOs include Gail McGovern, Elizabeth Dole, Bernadine Healy, Mary S. Elcano, Mark W. Everson and John F. McGuire. [2] In 2007, U.S. legislation clarified the role for the Board of Governors and that of the senior management in the wake of difficulties following Hurricane Katrina. [16]

Ranking

As of November 2017, the American Red Cross scores three out of four stars in Charity Navigator [17] and B+ at CharityWatch. [18]

In 1996, the Chronicle of Philanthropy , an industry magazine, released the results of the largest study of charitable and non-profit organization popularity and credibility. The study showed that ARC was ranked as the third "most popular charity/non-profit in America" of over 100 charities researched with 48% of Americans over the age of 12 choosing "Love", and "Like A lot" to describe the Red Cross. [19]

Notable members

Blood services

Blood donation

ARC supplies roughly 40% of the donated blood in the United States, which it sells to hospitals and regional suppliers. [25] Community-based blood centers supply 50% and 6% is collected directly by hospitals. In December 2004, ARC completed its largest blood processing facility in the United States in Pomona, California, on the campus grounds of the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.

Tissue services

For more than 50 years, ARC provided allograft tissue for transplant through sales in its Tissue Services Program. It cared for thousands of donor families who gave the gift of tissue donation and sold donated tissue to more than 1 million transplant recipients in need of this life saving or life-enhancing gift of tissue. At the end of January 2005, ARC ended its Tissue Services program in order to focus on its primary missions of Disaster Relief and Blood Services.

Plasma services

A leader in the plasma industry, ARC provides more than one-quarter of the nation's plasma products. Red Cross Plasma Services provides plasma products that are reliable, cost-effective and as safe as possible.

In February 1999, ARC completed its "Transformation", a $287 million program that re-engineered Red Cross Blood Services' processing, testing, and distribution system; and established a new management structure.

As of 2011, ARC was no longer in the Plasma Services industry. The Red Cross supplies Baxter BioSciences with items for the manufacturing of plasma products. [26]

Nucleic acid testing

On March 1, 1999, ARC became the first U.S. blood bank to implement a Nucleic acid testing (NAT) study. This process is different from traditional testing because it looks for the genetic material of HIV and hepatitis C (HCV), rather than the body's response to the disease.

The NAT tests for HIV and HCV has been licensed by the U.S.Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These tests detect the genetic material of a transfusion-transmitted virus like HIV without waiting for the body to form antibodies, potentially offering an important time advantage over current techniques.

Leukoreduction

Leukocytes (white blood cells) help fight off foreign substances such as bacteria, viruses, and abnormal cells. In fact, these foreign leukocytes in transfused red blood cells and platelets are often not well tolerated and have been associated with some types of transfusion complications. Leukocytes in stored blood products can have a variety of biological effects, including depression of immune function, which can result in organ failure and death. [27] Because whole blood is rarely used for transfusion and not kept in routine inventory, leukoreduced red blood supplies are critical. After collection, the whole blood is separated into red cells and plasma by centrifugation. A preservative solution is mixed with the red cells and the component is filtered with a leukoreduction filter. The shelf life of this product is 42 days.

ARC is moving toward system-wide universal prestorage leukocyte reduction to improve patient care. From 1976 through 1985, the FDA received reports of 355 fatalities associated with transfusion, 99 of which were excluded from further review because they were unrelated to transfusion or involved hepatitis or acquired immune deficiency syndrome. [28] While the FDA has not yet made a leukoreduction a requirement, ARC took a leading role in implementing this procedure with a goal of leukoreducing all blood products. More than 70 percent of ARC red blood cell components undergo prestorage leukoreduction, a filtering process that is done soon after blood is donated.

Research

ARC operates the Jerome H. Holland blood laboratory in Rockville, Maryland. Each year,[ when? ] the Red Cross invests more than $25 million in research activities at the Holland Laboratory and in the field.

Cellular therapies

ARC offers cellular therapies; this treatment involves collecting and treating blood cells from a patient or other blood donor. The treated cells are then introduced into a patient to help revive normal cell function, replace cells that are lost as a result of disease, accidents or aging, or to prevent illnesses from appearing.

Training Services

Training Services is one of the five divisions of the American Red Cross, responsible for providing health and safety training to the general public as well as the workforce. In fiscal year 2017 the American Red Cross trained 2.28 million people how to save lives through their First Aid, CPR or AED courses, water safety and caregiving programs. There are a wide variety of course offerings available: [29]

In addition to basic level certifications in the above courses the American Red Cross also offers Instructor level courses and Instructor Trainer (IT) level courses. Instructor level courses are designed to teach participants how to become instructors for American Red Cross courses, whereas Instructor Trainer courses (also known as Instructor Trainer Academies) are designed to certify current instructors to become Instructor Trainers, or people who can teach Instructor level courses.

Training Services has an online store where you can purchase supplies including First Aid Kits, CPR keychains, flashlights, and emergency radios. [30]

2018 Mannequin Change

In early 2018 all courses offered by the American Red Cross switched to BigRed mannequins. The investment cost $1.8M and increased participants understanding of the purpose of compressions during CPR.

Course Offerings

There are three entities that can run American Red Cross courses; The American Red Cross, Authorized Providers, and Licensed Training Providers. [31] The American Red Cross runs many of its own courses that can be conducted on land such as First Aid/CPR/AED and Basic Life Support for Healthcare Providers. There are a number of courses that require aquatic facilities to run, such as Lifeguarding and Water Safety Instructor. These courses are generally left to Authorized Providers (colleges, government agencies, fire departments, community centers) and to Licensed Training Providers (LLC. or Inc.).

Scientific Advisory Council

The Scientific Advisory Council is a panel including over 50 medical, scientific, aquatic and academic experts from across the United States. [32]

Disaster services

American Red Cross providing assistance during the 1994 Northridge earthquake FEMA - 2332 - Photograph by Robert A. Eplett taken on 01-17-1994 in California.jpg
American Red Cross providing assistance during the 1994 Northridge earthquake
An American Red Cross vehicle distributing food to Grand Forks, North Dakota victims of the 1997 Red River flood GF1997RedCross.jpg
An American Red Cross vehicle distributing food to Grand Forks, North Dakota victims of the 1997 Red River flood
Satellite communications after tropical storm Debby in Lake City, Florida, 2012 FEMA - 58087 - Photo by George Armstrong taken on 07-09-2012 in Florida.jpg
Satellite communications after tropical storm Debby in Lake City, Florida, 2012

Each year, ARC responds to more than 70,000 disasters, including house or apartment fires (making up the majority), hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, hazardous materials spills, transportation accidents, explosions and other natural and man-made disasters.

Although ARC is not a government agency, its authority to provide disaster relief was formalized when, in 1905, it was granted a congressional charter to "carry on a system of national and international relief in time of peace and apply the same in mitigating the sufferings caused by pestilence, famine, fire, floods, and other great national calamities, and to devise and carry on measures for preventing the same." The charter is not only a grant of power but also an imposition of duties and obligations to the nation, to disaster victims and to the people who support its work with their donations.

Disaster relief focuses on emergency disaster-caused needs. When a disaster threatens or strikes, ARC provides shelter, food and health and mental health services (Psychological First Aid) to address basic human needs. The core of Red Cross disaster relief is assistance to individuals and families to enable them to resume their normal daily activities. The organization provides translation and interpretation when necessary, and maintains a database of multilingual volunteers. [33]

At the local level, ARC chapters operate volunteer-staffed Disaster Action Teams.

ARC feeds emergency workers of other agencies, handles inquiries from concerned family members outside the disaster area, provides blood and blood products to disaster victims and helps those affected by a disaster to access other resources. It is a member of National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) and works closely with other agencies such as Salvation Army and Amateur Radio Emergency Service with whom it has memorandums of understanding.

ARC works to encourage preparedness by providing important literature on readiness. Many chapters also offer free classes to the general public.

A major misconception among the general public is that ARC provides medical facilities, engages in search and rescue operations or deploys ambulances. Instead, first responder roles are left to government agencies as dictated by the National Response Framework. Red Cross societies outside the U.S. may provide such functions; for example, the Cruz Roja Mexicana (Mexican Red Cross) runs a national ambulance service. Furthermore, American Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicles (ERVs) look similar to ambulances. These ERVs instead are designed for bulk distribution of relief supplies, such as meals, drinks and other relief supplies. Although ARC shelters usually assign a nurse to the facility, they are not equipped to provide medical care beyond first aid.

Disaster Services Workforce

The Disaster Services Workforce (DSW) system enrolls volunteers from ARC chapters into a national database of responders, classified by their ability to serve in one or more activities within groups. Services include feeding and sheltering ("mass care") to warehousing, damage assessment, accounting, communications, public affairs and counseling. Responders complete training requirements specific to the services they want to offer, backgrounds, and first aid training.

National Response Framework

As a National Response Framework support agency, ARC shelters, feeds and provides other types of emergency relief to victims of disasters. ARC is a co-lead with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for the mass care portion of Emergency Support Function 6. ARC and FEMA share responsibility for planning and coordinating mass care services with FEMA. ARC has responsibilities for other Emergency Support Functions, such as providing health and mental health services. [34] [35]

Disaster responses

Russian revolution

In July 1918 the ARC established a hospital at the entrance of Vladivostok harbor, and during the year 8 more hospitals. Vladivostok Refugee hospital was opened in early 1919 in former naval barracks and had up to 250 beds. The ARC provided drugs and medical supplies to Russian hospitals during the civil war. [36]

2005 hurricanes

Volunteers assist Hurricane victims at the Houston Astrodome, following Hurricane Katrina. FEMA - 15337 - Photograph by Andrea Booher taken on 09-10-2005 in Texas.jpg
Volunteers assist Hurricane victims at the Houston Astrodome, following Hurricane Katrina.

Forecasting a major disaster before the landfall of Hurricane Katrina, ARC enlisted 2,000 volunteers to be on a "stand by" deployment list.

According to ARC, during and after hurricanes Katrina, Wilma and Rita, they opened 1,470 shelters and registered 3. 8 million overnight stays. 300,000 Red Cross workers (82% unpaid) provided sheltering, casework, communication and assessment services throughout these events. In addition, 346,980 comfort kits (which contain hygiene essentials such as toothpaste, soap, washcloths and toys for children) and 205,360 cleanup kits (containing brooms, mops and bleach) were distributed. The organization served 68 million snacks and meals. Disaster Health services provided 596,810 contacts, and Disaster Mental Health services 826,590 contacts. Emergency financial assistance was provided to 1.4 million families, including 4 million people. Katrina was the first natural disaster in the United States that ARC utilized their "Safe and Well" family location website. [37] [38]

Comair Flight 5191

Following the crash of commuter aircraft Comair Flight 5191, the Bluegrass Area Chapter and ARC Critical Response Team (CRT) members were dispatched. This was the worst air disaster in the United States since American Airlines Flight 587. Family and Friends reception centers were established near the arrival and departure airports and in Cincinnati, site of the Comair headquarters. Local chapters in Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky and California provided health and mental health services to family and friends not present in Lexington. Volunteers also staffed the local Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Lexington, Kentucky. [39]

2007 tornadoes

ARC is set up in a community hard hit by the tornadoes, Florida, 2007 FEMA - 28112 - Photograph by Mark Wolfe taken on 02-06-2007 in Florida.jpg
ARC is set up in a community hard hit by the tornadoes, Florida, 2007

Florida

In response to the Central Florida Tornado of February 2007, ARC began a large scale disaster relief operation. At least seven shelters were opened. 40,000 pre-packaged meals were sent by ARC, and across the nation, almost 400 Red Cross volunteers were deployed to assist with local relief efforts. The organization deployed more than 30 Emergency Response Vehicles for community food and supply distribution. [40] [41]

Kansas

ARC immediately responded to the May 2007 Tornado Outbreak in central Kansas by setting up emergency shelters for displaced residents and started the distribution of food, water and relief supplies. [42]

Minneapolis bridge collapse

Following the collapse of the I-35W Mississippi River bridge, the Twin Cities Area Chapter responded with their Disaster Action Team to provide food, information and comfort. A family service center was set up, and mental health counselors deployed to numerous locations. [43] Donations contributed for this cause totaled US$138,368 and covered the cost of services [44] but not $65,000 in unexpected expenses. [45] Weather and the collapse placed 70% of Minnesota counties in federal primary or contiguous disaster areas during that August. [46]

International services

ARC, as part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and its nearly 100 million volunteers, educates and mobilizes communities to overcome life-threatening vulnerabilities. ARC International Services Department focuses on global health, disaster preparedness and response, Restoring Family Links and international humanitarian law dissemination. ARC is involved with international projects such as the measles Initiative, malaria programs in Africa, disaster response and relief efforts in response to the 2004 South Asia tsunami.

Disaster preparedness and response

ARC international disaster response and preparedness programs provide relief and development assistance to millions of people annually who suffer as a result of natural and human-made disasters. To respond quickly and effectively, ARC has pre-positioned emergency relief supplies in three warehouses managed by the International Federation in Dubai, Malaysia, and Panama that are used to respond to disasters. An Emergency Response Unit (ERU) is another method with which ARC responds to international emergencies. An ERU is made up of trained personnel and pre-packaged equipment that is crucial in responding to sudden, large-scale disasters and emergencies in remote locations. American Red Cross ERUs specialize in providing emergency relief supplies and IT and Telecommunications for Red Cross response operations. [47]

Haiti

On January 12, 2010, a magnitude 7.0 Mw earthquake struck the Haitian coast 10 miles from the capital of Port-au-Prince, causing massive damage, more than 200,000 deaths and displacing nearly 2 million people.

As of March 2011, ARC announced it had allocated $314 million for Haiti earthquake relief and recovery. ARC funded recovery projects to provide transitional homes, health services, disaster preparedness, water and sanitation improvements and livelihoods development. It provided funds for school fees for affected families. As of June 2011, ARC had raised approximately $484 million for Haiti relief and recovery efforts. [48]

A series of reports by NPR and ProPublica found that much of the money Americans donated never made it to help people in Haiti and promises to rebuild neighborhoods were never met. [49] [50]

Global health

ARC International Services global health initiatives focus on preventing and combating infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and measles on a large scale. Through cost-effective, community-based health interventions, ARC targets people in need and focuses on accessibility and equity of care, community participation, and integration with other community development initiatives, such as water and sanitation projects and food and nutrition programs.

An example of ARC International Services health programming is the Measles Initiative, launched in 2001, as a partnership committed to reducing measles deaths globally. The initiative provides technical and financial support to governments and communities on vaccination campaigns and disease surveillance worldwide. Leading these efforts are ARC, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United Nations Foundation, UNICEF and the World Health Organization. The Measles Initiative has supported vaccination campaigns in more than 60 countries, mostly in Africa and Asia. Since 2001, the initiative has helped vaccinate one billion children in more than 60 developing countries. [51] The initiative supported the distribution of more than 37 million insecticide-treated mosquito nets for malaria prevention, 81 million doses of de-worming medicine, 95 million doses of polio vaccine, and 186 million doses of Vitamin A.

In December 2006, ARC became a founding partner of the Malaria No More campaign. The campaign was formed by leading non-governmental organizations to inspire individuals, institutions, and organizations in the private sector to support a comprehensive approach to end malaria, a devastating but preventable disease. ARC supported local Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers in Africa who educated families and communities about malaria prevention and treatment, such as the proper and consistent use of insecticide-treated bed nets. ARC provided technical assistance and capacity-building support to its partners in difficult-to-reach communities.

International tracing requests

ARC handles international tracing requests and searches for families who have been separated. This service attempts to re-establish contact between separated family members. Restoring Family Links services provide the exchange of hand-written Red Cross Messages between individuals and their relatives who may be refugees or prisoners of war. At any given time, ARC Restoring Family Links program is handling the aftermath of 20–30 wars and conflicts. The worldwide structure of Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies and the International Committee of the Red Cross make this service possible. When new information from former Soviet Union archives became available in the 1990s, a special unit was created to handle World War II and Holocaust tracing services.

International humanitarian law

ARC International Services educates the American public about the guiding principles of international humanitarian law (IHL) for conduct in warfare as set forth by the Geneva Conventions of 1949. In doing so, ARC International Services provides support to ARC chapters in their IHL dissemination efforts, offering courses and providing instructor training.

Service to the Armed Forces

A World War II-era poster encouraged American women to volunteer for the Red Cross as part of the war effort. Poster-red-cross-volunteer-for-victory.jpg
A World War II-era poster encouraged American women to volunteer for the Red Cross as part of the war effort.

ARC provides emergency and non-emergency services to the United States military. The most notable service is emergency family communications, where families can contact the Red Cross to send important family messages (such as a death in the family, or new birth). ARC can also act as a verifying agency. [52] The agency operates call centers to provide these services. [53] ARC works closely with other military societies, such as the Department of Veterans Affairs, to provide other services to service members and their families. ARC is not involved with prisoners of war; these are monitored by the International Committee of the Red Cross, an international body.

Carney Airfield, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands Red Cross girl, August 1944 Carney Airfield, Solomon Islands, Red Cross girl. August 1944.jpg
Carney Airfield, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands Red Cross girl, August 1944

One criticism of Red Cross services to the military stems from stories about ARC charging troops during the Second World War and Korean War token fees for "comfort items" such as toothpaste, coffee, donuts, and cigarettes and for off-base food and lodging. The fee suggestion had been made in a letter dated March 1942 from the Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson to Norman H. Davis, the chairman of ARC. The suggestion was that Allied soldiers were being charged money so Americans should be charged too so as to "ensure an equitable distribution among all service personnel of Red Cross resources". [54] The Red Cross adopted the Secretary's suggestion as policy. [55]

During World War II, ARC operated the American Red Cross Clubmobile Service to provide servicemen with food, entertainment and "a connection home." In a June 18, 1945, address to Congress, General Dwight D. Eisenhower said of the Red Cross service in World War II, "The Red Cross, with its clubs for recreation, its coffee and doughnuts in the forward areas, its readiness to meet the needs of the well and to help minister to the wounded has often seemed the friendly hand of this nation, reaching across the sea to sustain its fighting men." [56] An account of one World War II American Red Cross Girl is recorded in Destination Unknown by Kathleen Cox; her mother, LeOna Cox, was recruited to Red Cross Service by a fellow teacher at Allegheny College. [57] Another account of an American Red Cross World War II worker is related in letters by Evelyn Merritt Welden, compiled in the book How to Play During a War: A Free Spirit's Life in Letters, by her son, Lynne Whelden.

Great Lakes Naval Hospital 1966, Jennie and Terrie Frankel perform for wounded soldiers. The frequent visits by the early Doublemint Twins were arranged through the American National Red Cross (see Red Cross letters of thanks to twins, posted on Wikimedia Commons). Great Lakes Naval Hospital 1966 - American Red Cross - Jennie Frankel and Terrie Frankel perform for wounded soldiers.jpeg
Great Lakes Naval Hospital 1966, Jennie and Terrie Frankel perform for wounded soldiers. The frequent visits by the early Doublemint Twins were arranged through the American National Red Cross (see Red Cross letters of thanks to twins, posted on Wikimedia Commons).
Great Lakes Naval Hospital - American Red Cross October 24, 1966 Letter of thanks to Jennie and Terrie Frankel for entertaining wounded servicemen Great Lakes Naval Hospital - American Red Cross October 24, 1966 Letter of thanks to Jennie and Terrie Frankel for entertaining wounded servicemen.jpg
Great Lakes Naval Hospital – American Red Cross October 24, 1966 Letter of thanks to Jennie and Terrie Frankel for entertaining wounded servicemen

During the Vietnam War 627 American women served in the ARC Supplemental Recreation Overseas Program. At the invitation of the United States Army the "Donut Dollies" provided morale-boosting games to soldiers. Due to the mobility of the UH-1 Iroquois, Vietnam Donut Dollies were able to visit troops in forwarding operating positions. The 2008 documentary film A Touch of Home: The Vietnam War's Red Cross Girls tells the story of these women. ARC also provided services to entertain wounded soldiers at the Great Lakes Naval Hospital during the Vietnam War.

In 2011, the Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) unit was reorganized and began receiving $24 million per year from Congress for operating expenses. Along with being downsized there was a consolidation into four regional locations (San Diego, CA, Ft. Sill, OK, Louisville, KY, and Springfield, MA). In 2012 the first stories began breaking about long call times and the poor quality of response from call takers. [58] [59] along with questions about whether money was being used appropriately. [60] In 2015, the San Diego and Springfield locations were closed because an online option for families was implemented. [61]

Controversies

Johnson & Johnson suit over Red Cross image

The red cross flag. The American Red Cross flag logo. Flag of the Red Cross.svg
The red cross flag. The American Red Cross flag logo.

On August 7, 2007, [62] Johnson & Johnson (J&J) filed suit against ARC over its sublicensing of the Red Cross image for the production of first aid kits and similar products, which it alleged competed with the company's products. The suit also asked for the destruction of all non-Johnson & Johnson Red Cross Emblem bearing products and demanded that ARC pay punitive damages and J&J's legal fees.

The Red Cross' position was that it had licensed its name to first aid kit makers in an effort to encourage readiness for disasters and that license revenues supported humanitarian work. [63] J&J claimed that the Red Cross's commercial ventures were outside the scope of historically well-agreed usage and were in direct violation of federal statutes. [64]

On May 14, 2008, a federal judge ruled against J&J. [65] In June 2008, the two organizations announced a settlement had been reached allowing both parties to use the symbol. [66]

The FDA took court action against ARC in response to deficiencies in their procedures for ensuring blood supply safety. The resulting consent decree outlines violations of federal law that ARC engaged in before 1993. [67] ARC paid millions of dollars in fines.

ARC Biomedical Services instituted a standardized computer system to maintain the blood donor database; five National Testing Laboratories (NTLs) that test some six million units of blood annually; [68] the Charles Drew Biomedical Institute, which provides training and other educational resources to Red Cross Blood Services' personnel; a Quality Assurance/Regulatory Affairs Department, which helps to ensure regulatory compliance; and, a centrally managed blood inventory system.

The Consent Decree was amended in 2003 with penalties for specific violations.

The FDA could impose penalties after April 2003 up to the following maximum amounts:

The FDA continued to apply pressure and fines to ARC in order to enforce compliance with regulations, including a $1.7 million fine in June 2008. [69]

ARC worked closely with the FDA to develop a more robust system. The systems resulted in a five-year period of sustained compliance that led to the release from the Consent Decree as of December 4, 2015. [70]

Blood donation controversy

ARC faced criticism from lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) advocacy organizations for prohibiting men who have sex with men (MSM) from donating blood. This policy was an FDA requirement for all blood collection companies and organizations in the United States. Specifically, the FDA instructs blood collection organizations to "defer for 12 months from the most recent sexual contact, a man who has had sex with another man during the past 12 months". [71] Consequently, ARC was legally unable to collect blood from such men. In 2006, along with the AABB and America's Blood Centers, ARC petitioned the FDA to remove the requirement from blood donations, citing better screening technologies. [72] [73] As of December 2016, the American Red Cross reports on its website that its deferral of MSM from donating blood for 12 months after any sexual contact with another man is aligned with the guidance issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. [74]

Hurricane Katrina controversy

In March 2006, investigations of allegations of fraud and theft by volunteers and contractors within ARC Katrina operations were launched by the Louisiana Attorney-General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). [75] In response, ARC increased its internal and external education of the organization's fraud and a waste hotline for confidential reporting to a third party agency.[ citation needed ] The organization also elected to implement a background check policy for all volunteers and staff, starting in 2006. [76]

In April 2006, an unnamed former ARC official leaked reports made by the International Committee of the Red Cross and the British Red Cross. Such reports are typical of a large-scale disaster relief operation involving other national Red Cross societies to solicit their input, but are usually confidential and not released to the general public. These particular reports were particularly critical of ARC operations in Katrina-affected regions, although the British Red Cross report strongly praised ARC volunteers for their efforts.[ citation needed ]

Storms controversy (Hurricane Sandy, Isaac, other major storms)

In October 2014, independent public interest news broadcasters NPR and ProPublica published investigative reports on the Red Cross's handling of US East Coast Hurricanes Sandy and Isaac, citing internal Red Cross documents and interviews with former Red Cross and government officials. It criticized the organization's response in failing to meet the immediate needs of victims. It also described "an organization so consumed with public relations that it hindered the charity's ability to provide disaster services." [77] [78] [79]

See also

Related Research Articles

Canadian Red Cross

The Canadian Red Cross Society is a Canadian humanitarian charitable organization, and one of 190 national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies. The organization receives funding from both private donations and from Canadian government departments.

LDS Humanitarian Services

LDS Humanitarian Services is a branch of the Welfare Services department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The organization's stated mission is to relieve suffering, to foster self-reliance for people of all nationalities and religions, and to provide opportunities for service.

The British Red Cross Society is the United Kingdom body of the worldwide neutral and impartial humanitarian network the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. The society was formed in 1870, and is a registered charity with more than 32,500 volunteers and 3,500 staff. At the heart of their work is providing help to people in crisis, both in the UK and overseas. The Red Cross is committed to helping people without discrimination, regardless of their ethnic origin, nationality, political beliefs or religion.

Disaster response is the second phase of the disaster management cycle. It consists of a number of elements, for example; warning/evacuation, search and rescue, providing immediate assistance, assessing damage, continuing assistance and the immediate restoration or construction of infrastructure .The aim of emergency response is to provide immediate assistance to maintain life, improve health and support the morale of the affected population. Such assistance may range from providing specific but limited aid, such as assisting refugees with transport, temporary shelter, and food, to establishing semi-permanent settlement in camps and other locations. It also may involve initial repairs to damaged or diversion to infrastructure.

Hong Kong Red Cross nonprofit organization

The Hong Kong Red Cross is the national Red Cross society of Hong Kong as part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. It was established officially on 12 July 1950 as a branch of the British Red Cross Society in Hong Kong. Since 1 July 1997, upon the transfer of Hong Kong's sovereignty to the People's Republic of China, the Hong Kong Red Cross has changed its affiliation to become a special branch of the Red Cross Society of China, but remains autonomous from it.

Hurricane Katrina disaster relief

The disaster recovery response to Hurricane Katrina included federal government agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the United States Coast Guard (USCG), state and local-level agencies, federal and National Guard soldiers, non-governmental organizations, charities, and private individuals. Tens of thousands of volunteers and troops responded or were deployed to the disaster - most in the affected area but also throughout the U.S. at shelters set up in at least 19 states.

Amateur radio emergency communications

In times of crisis and natural disasters, amateur radio is often used as a means of emergency communication when wireline, cell phones and other conventional means of communications fail.

Turkish Red Crescent is the largest humanitarian organization in Turkey and is part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

The Armenian Relief Society (ARS), is an independent, nonsectarian, philanthropic society serving the humanitarian, social and educational needs of Armenians and non-Armenians alike. It operates as a non-governmental organization and has entities in 27 countries.

Citizen Corps is a program under the Department of Homeland Security that provides training for the population of the United States to assist in the recovery after a disaster or terrorist attack. Each local Citizen Corps Council partners with organizations, volunteers and businesses to organize responders, volunteers and professional first responders for an efficient response so efforts aren't wasted by being duplicated. By training in Incident Command, volunteers know who to report to and how the incident is organized. This prevents sites from being inundated by untrained and unprepared people milling about and getting in the way. Citizen Corps also works in conjunction with the Corporation for National and Community Service in promoting national service opportunities for promoting homeland security needs.

Lebanese Red Cross organization

The Lebanese Red Cross (LRC) is a humanitarian organization and an auxiliary team to the medical service of the Lebanese Army. Its headquarters is in the Lebanese capital city of Beirut. Founded in 1945, the organization comprises a number of approximately 7,000 members/volunteers and 200 staff personnel. The society works with the International Federation and the ICRC, and on a bilateral basis with the Norwegian and the French Red Cross. The LRC also works with the relevant components of the Lebanese authorities, with UN agencies and NGOs.

Nepal Red Cross Society organization

Nepal Red Cross Society (NRCS)(Devnagari: नेपाल रेडक्रस सोसाइटी) is an independent, volunteer-based and nonprofit-humanitarian organization that delivers humanitarian service and support to the vulnerable people in an impartial and neutral manner. It came into being on 4 September 1963. Nepal Red Cross Society was officially registered in Nepal after Nepal Government acceded to the Geneva Conventions. Having been recognized by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and affiliated to International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) on 1 October 1964.

Disaster medicine is the area of medical specialization serving the dual areas of providing health care to disaster survivors and providing medically related disaster preparation, disaster planning, disaster response and disaster recovery leadership throughout the disaster life cycle. Disaster medicine specialists provide insight, guidance and expertise on the principles and practice of medicine both in the disaster impact area and healthcare evacuation receiving facilities to emergency management professionals, hospitals, healthcare facilities, communities and governments. The disaster medicine specialist is the liaison between and partner to the medical contingency planner, the emergency management professional, the incident command system, government and policy makers.

The Swiss Red Cross, or SRC, is the national Red Cross society for Switzerland.

Finnish Red Cross association part of International Federation of Red Cross

The Finnish Red Cross is an independent member of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, which is one of the biggest and best-known international organisations in the world and in the field of humanitarian aid. FRC has over 90,000 members and around 45,000 active volunteers in Finland. FRC consists of 12 regional chapters and 550 local branches throughout the country. The current General Secretary is Ms. Kristiina Kumpula. At the end of 2006, the FRC employed 1,168 people, of which 136 worked at the headquarters in Helsinki.

The National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster is a coalition of the major national voluntary organizations in the United States that have made disaster-related work a priority. National VOAD member agencies provide skilled direct services along the continuum from disaster prevention and preparation to response, recovery, and mitigation. NVOAD is the only nationwide organization of VOAD members in the United States.

Humanitarian response by non-governmental organizations to the 2010 Haiti earthquake

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Disaster Action Team

A Disaster Action Team is the local disaster response unit in chapters of the American Red Cross.

Mexican Red Cross

The Mexican Red Cross is a non-governmental humanitarian assistance organization affiliated with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to help those in dangerous situations, such as natural disasters, as well as providing human health services. The organization finances its aid, assistance, and education programs through the work of thousands of volunteers and donation from individuals, institutions, organizations, associations and companies. It originated with a presidential decree in 1910 and was recognized internationally in 1912. Today it participates in national and international aid and disaster relief missions as well as various health services, training in first aid and for emergency medical technicians. Early in its history, it developed a program in nursing, which eventually became the Escuela Nacional de Enfermería y Obstetricia, today part of the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

Red Paw Emergency Relief Team organization

Red Paw Emergency Relief Team is a Philadelphia-based nonprofit emergency service dedicated to helping pets displaced by house fires and other residential disasters. Their goal is to reunite pets with their families once they have recovered and reduce the number of animals surrendered to shelters due to sudden hardship. The team works with local chapters of the American Red Cross, fire departments, and other disaster relief organizations to provide search and rescue, emergency transport, veterinary care, shelter and supplies for affected pets, at no cost to their owners.

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Further reading