American Red Cross Rochester Headquarters Visit
By: Joshua P. Fess
Passionate would be an understatement when it comes to disaster response specialist Bill Platt’s enthusiasm for the American Red Cross and the organization’s efforts to touch the lives of Americans who have been victims of a disaster. Platt, a thirty-year Red Cross veteran provided an in-depth presentation on the history, mission, and methods of the American Red Cross this past Thursday, January 25, 2018 at the American Red Cross Rochester Headquarters. The Red Cross’s mission hasn’t wavered since its foundation in 1881 in Bath, New York by Clara Barton. The Red Cross expanded quite quickly, and established a new location in Rochester only six weeks after the organization was founded. Today the Red Cross provides more than just relief by following the disaster services cycle. This cycle, that is deeply connected and never-ending, involves three major steps as follows: prepare, respond, and recover. Platt made it quite apparent that these three steps are critical to the success of the Red Cross, and that without one of the parts of the cycle, everything would fall apart.
As the largest humanitarian organization in the world, the Red Cross offers many programs for local communities to be a part of. The Red Cross has made a significant effort to educate young children about certain dangers and how to respond to disasters. Platt’s most gripping story was that of the Pillowcase Project where the Red Cross teaches proper prevention and response to certain disasters or home incidents in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade classrooms. Platt told a story where he saw a young boy using a calming technique taught in the Pillowcase program in schools with his father as being a victim of a hurricane. Breathe through color, as it’s known, has someone who is distraught breathe in the good colors, and breathe out the bad. This young boy had his pillowcase under his cot at the disaster shelter his family was staying at. To Platt, this is a story that will stick with him as quite emotional, but also as a story that makes him proud to work for the Red Cross and know that a program he teaches does help save lives.
After the presentation, our group was given a tour of the Red Cross Headquarters and their disaster response stations. The Red Cross is a well-oiled machine that is always ready to respond at any moment. This is quite amazing as 91 percent of the Red Cross is made up of individuals who volunteered to help other people. In the hopes to always be prepared, the Red Cross has an excellent app that can alert people if there are harmful natural elements headed their way so that people have the proper amount of time to prepare and flee. The Red Cross has made a very large effort to prevent situations that can be preventable. One example of this is an upcoming push in the Rochester community to install 550 fire alarms in residential houses in one day. The Red Cross is clearly prepared for anything coming their way. The people that work and volunteer for this organization continue to devote their days to keeping our local, national, and global communities safe. Their passion for helping others is abundant, and commitment to service is heartwarming. I am so glad that I had the opportunity to visit our local Red Cross Headquarters to gain this new perspective on a disaster relief organization.
On Thursday, January 25th our Natural Disasters course visited the American Red Cross Headquarters located in Rochester, NY. The American Red Cross is the largest humanitarian resource in the globe that extends a helping hand to those in need.
Bill Platt, a Disaster Program Specialist provided a compelling presentation, which included the American Red Cross’s mission, as well as their means to achieve their goals, and also his personal experiences with the organization. From his presentation I was moved from his personal experiences and how much they have changed him as a person. One was able to observe that his job was filled with compassion and love. As a class Bill communicated the three steps the American Red Cross actively does on a daily basis. These steps are prepare, respond, and recover. These steps are essential in making the American Red Cross an important component in disaster relief around the world.
The American Red Cross Headquarters is an
amazing organization filled with incredibly
passionate employees and volunteers (91% being
volunteers) who provide help and resources to those
in need after a disaster or tragedy. Disaster Program
Specialist, Bill Platt, provided an intriguing
presentation and tour for us, and included touching
personal experiences that really sparked my interest
in becoming a volunteer for an organization like Red
Cross in the future. Bill Platt focused on the ways
that the Red Cross helps others prepare, respond, and
recover for/after a disaster and also introduced many
projects that help to encourage people of all ages to
prepare for events, such as a house fire (because
without preparation, it is practically impossible to
respond and recover). The Pillowcase Project, for example, is a project that focuses on teaching elementary students about being aware of fires, knowing what to do in the event of one, and having a “go kit” or pillowcase to grab in case of an emergency so that the children are prepared. I really enjoyed learning about the history of the Red Cross and all the work and dedication that goes into providing so much relief for those in need.
On Thursday, January 25, 2018, I had the opportunity to visit the local Red Cross
The American Red Cross
was first established by Clara Barton in 1881 in Dansville, NY. On our visit to the Red Cross
located in downtown Rochester, we had the chance to meet with Disaster Specialist Bill Platt. He
was excited to meet us all and wanted to talk about so much; he chose to discuss the Disaster
Cycle Service (DCS).
The DCS is a never ending cycle consisting of three parts: Prepare, Respond, Recover.
The most important step in this process is Preparedness. This phase consists of two additional
elements, recruiting and training, in order to fulfill its purpose. The recruiting element requires
volunteers; anyone can volunteer to help the Red Cross from anywhere in the world. Not only
does volunteering mean directly helping families who face a disaster, but it also allows those
who do not wish to partake in such activities to still be able to help out by giving donations, such
as money, supplies, and blood. Once someone volunteers, training can be done online or in
person. The most important aspects of training are to stay engaged and to always remember to
say “thank you,” because a “thank you” costs nothing except the moment in which it is said.
One project that the Red Cross is extremely appreciative of is the Pillowcase Project.
This project was started after college students, who were affected by Hurricane Katrina, had to
carry all their belongings from the shelters inside of pillowcases. The Red Cross is now involved
with this project, which is fully funded by Disney, in order to help children know what items
they should place in the pillowcase so they have one ready in case of an emergency.
Each case has Disney characters on it and the names of all the supplies that the child should have
inside of it. For adults, if the Pillowcase Project is not something they want to take part in, their
best option for being prepared is to write down their most important contacts on an index card,
put it in a ziploc bag with $10-20 (all in $1s), grab a flashlight and place them under the spare
tire or in the car somewhere safe. This way, if an emergency ever occurred and there was access
to the car, then that person has money for food (or gas) and a list of people to call for help.
Another project that the Red Cross offers is the National Smoke Alarm Installation
Program. This program allows any person, no matter their race, gender, or class, to have smoke
alarms installed and/or checked inside their homes. A team of volunteers get together and makes
sure that every alarm is installed properly and that the batteries work. The process takes around
fifteen minutes and can help save many lives.
The Response phase of the DCS involves the immediate response from the Red Cross to
the disaster. A Disaster Action Team (DAT) is dispatched and sent to the scene no matter the
type of disaster (hurricane, flood, mudslide, house fire, etc.). Their responsibility is to supply and
aid any persons involved in the disaster ASAP. The Red Cross provides shelter, clothing,
hygiene supplies, blankets, a means to contact people, medication(s), food, water, emotional
support, mental health support, crisis counseling, health care, eye glasses, and any sanitation
needs to name a few. This is immediate aid for a disaster.
The Recovery phase is designed for long term aid. The Red Cross will supply and aid
people with insurance, security, recovery plans, mental health assistance, legal aid, logistics,
spiritual aid, and even provide them with a new pet if they lost one in the disaster.
These last two phases requires a lot of preparedness and volunteers to help out, because
every disaster is different and the needs might not be the same; the scope and scale of a disaster
can change in seconds and it is best to be prepared. When the Preparedness aspect of the DCS
collapses, the cycle disappears. While families might lose everything in a disaster, being
prepared can make a HUGE difference. To make sure everyone is prepared, make a “to-go” kit
as a family activity, as well as mapping out exit strategies and safe spots to meet up at.
Before my class left for the day, Bill made sure to emphasize the notion that no one will
become rich with money from working for the Red Cross, but they will become rich with
compassion for helping others. Even if you are not one hundred percent sure about volunteering,
the minute a person, or a child, looks to you for comfort and solace, there is no better feeling
than knowing you helped them. Working for the Red Cross is his dream job and he has been
working there for 30 years.
You can visit http://www.redcross.org/ for more information and volunteer opportunities
at your local Red Cross chapter. The Red Cross has at least 18 different emergency apps
available for download in the Apple Store and on Google Play for free.
The Red Cross DOES make a difference.
Written by Kristina Corbett___________________________________________________________________________
The Red Cross Field Trip: Spectacular People doing Spectacular Things
The Red Cross Field Trip: Spectacular People doing Spectacular Things
On January 25th, I attended the class field trip to the Greater Rochester Chapter of the American Red Cross. The trip was very interesting and insightful. Upon arrival we were greeted by Bill Platt who gave us a presentation on everything red cross. The most important aspect of the red cross he focused on was their disaster response, and rightfully so he is a disaster specialist! Before everyone arrived he told us stories about some of the disasters he had taken part in, one story that stuck out was the porta potty story. During hurricane Sandy he was helping out down in Road Island and he was in need of porta potties for the shelter he was setting up. So a company from Rochester sent down the best of the best. However, these potties needed electricity and a high enough water pressure, both of which were unavailable to Bill and the shelter, the whole reason for the potties in the first place… I didn’t even know such porta potties existed. This was an important lesson in disaster relief. When sending aide you should know the situation you are sending too, not just send things blindly, they will probably cause more harm than good. After the presentation started we learned about the disaster phase. It consists of 3 sections, prepare, respond, and recover. The most important one being preparedness. This is very similar to what we learned about. Prepare would be similar to hazard mitigation. Essential preparing for disasters by means of building structures to stop floods and making sure everyone has a basement or safe place to go during a tornado. The red cross also does an event where they make sure homes have smoke alarms installed and in working condition. This is an event we can all volunteer for too! This brings me to my next interesting insight. I didn’t realize the red cross responds to so many different disaster types. Before the field trip and our class I thought the red cross only did blood drives, it was so interesting to know that they respond to practically all disaster situations. In fact, the largest disaster the red cross responds to are house fires, whether single or multi family. This was so impressive to me, that the red cross would respond to such localized disasters. After the presentation we toured the disaster headquarters which is filled with tables like this one. These tables have various stations all dedicated to a specific job, this table has a Disaster Services Technology station as well as a Training station. The headquarters and these tables give a perfect example of the preparedness aspect of the disaster services.
The red cross is an amazing volunteer organization that prides itself on helping others in their time of need. We as individuals are capable of helping in such meaningful ways by volunteering. Like Bill said, even if we don’t have time now with school we can always help out later in life or during our school breaks. One way I know how we can help right now that doesn’t take more than an hour is donating blood, a very simple way to save 3 lives!
On Thursday our Natural Disasters class went on a field trip. We went to the American Red Cross, located in Rochester, NY. Their goal is to help anyone in need after an unfortunate event occurs within their lives. Bill Platt, the Disaster Program Specialist, went through the steps to helping these families in need. Most of the people who help those in need are volunteers. They do a lot to prep for traumatic events, like single-family house fires. Bill mentioned that he and his crew work with elementary school aged kids (3rd, 4th, and 5th graders) by preparing them for fires that could happen in their own homes. The Pillowcase Project is one of the many ways children can get prepared. They get a pillowcase and get to decorate it, once decorated they can fill it up with essentials items they need in case of a fire. They can “grab and go”, that way they can exit their house as safe as possible with the items they absolutely need. Another way to prepare children and families is having fire drills. The Red Cross also has a Sound Alarm Project, this is where volunteers go to different houses (doesn’t matter the race, class, or income status) and install smoke detectors or replace the batteries in the current smoke detector. The cycle Bill spoke to us was prepare, respond, and recover. Without one of these the other two would be nothing. But in order to respond and recover, the American Red Cross needs to prepare. After the informational talk, our class took a tour of parts of the building. They had everything set up in stations and were prepared to take on any event that could occur. I think its really cool that so many people volunteer their time to help others in need, and I would love to have the opportunity to volunteer my time in the future to help in any way I can.
On January 25th, students partaking in the Natural Disasters course, which includes
myself, visited the Red Cross Headquarters in Rochester, NY. The Red Cross was founded nearby, in
Dansville, NY, by Clara Barton in 1881. Approximately six weeks after this, the branch in Rochester was
Here, we listened to a presentation given by Mr. Bill Platt, the Disaster Program Specialist for the
region. Mr. Platt has been with the Red Cross for 37 years, so he has a lot of interesting stories about his
experiences and he certainly possesses a kind of insight on the topic of natural disasters that I believe only one
who has lived through them could acquire. He explained how in order to help people in the cases of various
kinds of disasters, the Red Cross utilizes a Disaster Cycle, which consists of three components that constantly
repeat: Prepare, Respond, and Recover.
“Prepare” mostly consists of recruiting volunteers because volunteers make up 91% of the team.
“Respond” depends on the scope and scale of disasters, but includes surveying the disaster scene to determine
what the Red Cross can do. “Recover” refers to the practically unlimited amount of time that the organization
might dedicate to working with victims of disasters. This remarkable organization helps to provide not only
food, clothing, sanitary objects, and other basic essentials to victims, but things like emotional support and help
with filling out various paperwork as well.
It might be even lesser known that the Red Cross also aims to conduct disaster prevention practices and
techniques, but this is no less important than their disaster response efforts. For the Rochester location, fires are
the largest disaster that demands response. In fact, there is approximately one fire within Rochester and the
general surrounding area every day and a half! To try to lower these occurrences, the organization installs free
smoke alarms in homes and so far, it has saved 300 lives nationally! I think that this best represents the Red
Cross’ efforts because it conveys just how much the organization truly cares about individuals and focuses on
the welfare of individuals.
My visit to the Red Cross made me realize how important it is and how much it
benefits societies across the world (there are international branches too!) If you would like
to join in on the efforts, like I plan to do in the future, and want to help people who find
themselves in unfortunate situations as a result of disaster, please visit
to learn more.
On Thursday, January 25, 2018, my Natural Disaster’s Course at Nazareth College had the pleasure of visiting the American Red Cross Chapter here in Rochester New York. There, we met a man by the name of Bill Platt who is the Disaster Program Specialist (William.Platt@redcross.org). Platt has been with the Red Cross for 30 years, where he describes this as his “dream job, where you get to fill your body with compassion over your wildest dreams.” Platt went on to present our class on the disaster cycle services, where it can be pictured in the top right corner. The circle has no end, and without one of the three main components, the cycle would not be able to function. The first part of the cycle is the most important, preparedness, followed then by respond and recover. Platt is a firm believer in the preparedness part of the cycle and he was even able to share with us what the Rochester Chapter is doing to help prepare people for what could possibly be the worst day of their life. Platt continued to share the importance of the “Pillowcase Project,” where they go into elementary schools (typically 5th graders) and teach them about home fire safety and a safe evacuation plan in homes. Then each student can be given a pillowcase that they are able to design and draw on, but then go home and fill it with essential items that they may need if a disaster sticks where they can “grab and go.” In the case, students are encouraged to put in a few items of clothing, a family picture, and fist aid supplies. Being a future educator myself, I love this project because in schools we also have fire drills, but what about at the student’s homes? This is what Platt is trying to teach students in the greater Rochester area, we cannot prevent a disaster from happening, but we can be prepared which would make the disaster a little bit easier to handle having a few loved items. Another project that Platt and other volunteers at the Red Cross are working on is known as the Sound Alarm Project. Here volunteers go door to door, does not matter on race, gender, or income, and install smoke detectors or replace dead batteries. The hard working men and women at the American Red Cross are truly amazing and I would strongly encourage readers to volunteer, and help when they can because this organization is incredible.
Today, January 25, 2018, my fellow peers and I, as part of the Natural Disasters
course at Nazareth College, had the honor of visiting the Greater Rochester Chapter of
American Red Cross. On our visit, we were warmly welcomed by Bill Platt who is a Disaster
Specialist. For over 30 years, Mr. Platt has served the
American Red Cross with compassion and heart, as well as
having the “dream job,” as he claims. Within our time at
the Red Cross, Mr. Platt covered some of the basics of
what they actually do, which exceeded anything that I had
previously assumed. Probably one
of the most important aspects
that was presented to our class
had to do with the disaster cycle
services (pictured to the right).
“Preparedness,” the first part of the cycle, was stressed as the most
important aspect to disasters, which is then followed by response
and recovery. The cycle is continuous, and if one of the three
categories or stages were missing, then the cycle would fail. In
stressing the importance of preparedness, Platt shared with us the
“Pillowcase Project,” which is a project coordinated with 5th graders. They are able to design
their own pillowcase that should be used as their grab in go back that is stocked with
essential items in case of an emergency. This information was really heartwarming and
emotional because I have a brother who is in 5th grade back at home. Knowing that there
are wonderful people out there teaching young kids what to do in case of an emergency
and the small steps that they can take to be better prepared is probably one of the best
feelings in the world. While someone can look at this as someone’s job to educate these
kids, it is important to note that the “Pillowcase Project,” or other services that the
American Red Cross provides could save a life if not millions. If you want to make a
difference, the American Red Cross is a great place to start. For more information please
visit http://www.redcross.org. Volunteering can save lives!!
On January 25th, 2018, my Natural Disasters class took a field trip to our local Red Cross
disaster facility. Here, our class learned a lot about the preparedness and responses of all
American Red Cross facilities throughout our nation. They help in a lot of different situations
such as house fires, earthquakes, hurricanes and many other disasters. The man we spoke to was
a disaster specialist. His name was Bill Platt. You could tell by the emotions he shared with the
class that he really loves what he does and it was a truly uplifting environment to be around. He
lives to help others and that is such a selfless act. He discussed how all American Red Cross
disaster action teams follow a 3 step protocol: Prepare, Respond, Recover. This 3 step protocol
has now been adapted, in a slightly different version, by FEMA, the bureaucratic agency that
helps with disaster relief. In addition, he talked about many different projects that the disaster
unit and preparedness unit implement that helps make the american people a little more prepared
for natural disasters. These projects include: the pillowcase project, which is sponsored by
Disney and the Sound the Alarm project.
Bill stressed the importance of always being prepared and
how the preparedness part of the 3-step protocol really helps
make their jobs just a little bit easier. The American Red
Cross runs 91% off of donations, only that small 9% is not
donations and volunteer time. This field trip was extremely
humbling, to see all the different people who volunteer their
time, companies that volunteer their money and resources for
the well being of the american people. Especially recently,
there has been so much bad that has been highlighted by the
news with mass shootings, terrorist attacks, hurricanes and so
many other things. This field trip was so reassuring of all the
good that there is in this world, and Bill plays a big role in that. I have donated blood in the past,
but recently became aware that I am no longer able to donate blood for health reasons. Even
though I can not donate my blood, I am excited to see what future ways that I can help out such
an amazing organization like this. Bill talks about the feeling of helping out a family and seeing
how truly grateful they are for you and all that you have done and I want to experience that. I
urge all to volunteer and there are so many ways to do so, whether that is donating your time, a
little bit of money or even your blood. Since the American Red Cross mostly operates through
donated measures, anything helps.
On January 25, 2018 students from Dr. Kneeland’s Natural Disasters in American Society class partook in a field trip. For this first field trip of the semester we traveled to the American Red Cross on Prince Street in Rochester NY. For the start of the field trip we where introduced to Bill Platt, the Disaster Program Specialist. Platt, who has been working with the Red Cross for 37 years, gave us a quick history about the Red Cross. He informed us that the first Red Cross was formed in Dansville New York in 1881. About six weeks later, the second Red Cross was formed in Rochester, New York. We also learned that 91% of the Red Cross are volunteers. Platt made it clear that the Red Cross would not be successful without its volunteers. A big program in the Red Cross is the Disaster Cycle Services. This program has three steps; Prepare, Respond and Recover. The Prepare stage involves recruiting volunteers and collecting and organization donations. The Respond stage depends on the scope and scale of the disaster. In each case, the Red Cross members look at the situation and decide what is needed in order to help. The Recovery stage is the one that can last the longest. The Red Cross works with the people who have been affected and helps them obtain what they need in order to get their lives back to being as normal as possible.
Another program we learned about is the Pillow Case Program. It is a program that the Red Cross offers to children in order for them to feel happy, safe and important. At the end of the field trip, Bill took some of us out back so we could see the storage warehouse where they keep files and supplies and where they keep their vehicles. This filed trip provided me with a lot of information about the Red Cross and how it works. I knew the Red cross existed, and that its purpose was to help those in need during and after disasters, but I truly never though about how big and organized it is, and needs to be, to do its work.