In Depth: American Red Cross

Segment one- Evacuation centers

Hal talks to Marium Mohiuddin from the Red Cross about changes they are making to their evacuation shelter protocols in the wake of the pandemic. We tour an example of how such a shelter would be set up at their headquarters in Santa Monica.  Mohiuddin says that cots are now spaced about ten feet apart to give proper social distancing.  

There are fewer cots per shelter to give enough space. They are also doing temperature checks and having more handwashing stations. They are now using pre-packaged sterilization sheets and blankets on their cots as a precaution. The Red Cross also has special protocols to segregate anyone who might present with a fever or other symptoms of COVID-19 and medical personnel to come in to treat them. 

Hal speaks to volunteer Jerome Thierry about the role of volunteers in disaster assistance.

Segment two - Go Bag

Hal talks to Red Cross representative Jillian Robertson about preparedness and how to pack a "go bag" to be ready in case of emergency. This would be useful not only in case of fire, but in case of any disaster.  

Roberston discusses the importance of a crowbar in assisting during an earthquake if someone is trapped. She says packing an N95 mask is practical for disasters as well as for COVID protection. Robertson says it's important to keep small bills on hand, because people might not have change if there is a disaster.

She shows Hal the check-in procedure in a shelter, which involves taking temperature and sanitizing supplies. Robertson also suggests downloading the Red Cross disaster app which provides information on shelters and real-time disaster alerts.

Segment three - Blood Donations

Red Cross Blood Services Senior Manager Sean Inoue talks to Hal about the challenges they face trying to maintain their normal blood supply during the pandemic. He says it is still safe to give blood. People are asked to check in on line, but there will also be precautions taken, such as temperature checks, once one gets to the donation facility.

Inoue says that most of their donations come from high schools and colleges, but that because of remote learning, they're seen an unprecedented number of cancellations.  He says they are grateful to facilities like the American Legion, the YMCA and others, sharing their locations for blood drives to allow enough space for people to stay safe.

Inoue says that they question donors about exposure before they come in, so they are confident that donors aren't infected.  But they also will test the blood for antibodies to COVID. They are hoping to get more people who have had the disease to donate convalescent plasma to be used for patients battling Covid-19.

Segment four - Wrap-up 

The Red Cross emphasizes that they need more blood donor volunteers, and he talks to a blood donor about why he gives blood- it just makes him feel good.