Red Cross honors volunteers with awards at annual meeting

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The moment seemed like a blur to Oak Ridge High School senior James Slinkard.

During his lunch hour earlier this year, Slinkard was eating with friends in the school's cafeteria when a classmate began choking on a slice of pizza.

Moments later, Slinkard saved his friend's life thanks to CPR training he had received less than 24 hours earlier through an American Red Cross-certified course.

"For the next two hours everyone in the school was very quiet," said Slinkard, the recipient of the 2008 Southeast Missouri American Red Cross lifesaving award. "I never thought I'd use my training this soon, but I'm so thankful I did."

Slinkard was one of several individuals and groups recognized during the 91st annual meeting of the Southeast Missouri chapter of the American Red Cross at La Croix United Methodist Church in Cape Girardeau. Those who received awards included the New Madrid, Mo., Community Emergency Response Team, the disaster planning and response award winner; Southeast Missouri State University, the corporate community partnership award recipient; and Joel Neikirk, chapter award of excellence winner.

The meeting also featured a presentation of colors, election of 2008-2009 officers and board of directors, and American Red Cross efforts featured on the video "Every Day" by the country music group Rascal Flatts.

During the 2007 fiscal year, the Southeast Missouri chapter responded to seven local disasters including the February ice storms and the March flooding. Volunteers helped 707 affected families and individuals with emergency shelter, food and supplies. Five members of the local chapter are participating in relief operations in flood-ravaged areas of Wisconsin, Indiana and Iowa.

In addition to disaster relief operations, the chapter also has trained 10,714 individuals in first aid, CPR, swimming and life guarding.

Among the volunteers in attendance at the meeting were Cape Girardeau residents Bob and Pat Fortney. The couple has been involved in relief efforts since the historic 1993 Mississippi River flood, when they worked at a shelter in St. Charles, Mo.

Since then, Bob Fortney has been impressed with the mass response of Red Cross volunteers, no matter if the disaster is a tornado, fire, flood, earthquake or hurricane.

"The Red Cross is vital because we are one of the first responders in a disaster," said Fortney, who also has volunteered at shelters in Farmington, Mo., and Jackson in 2006 and 2008, respectively. "The network of volunteers and staff personnel is unbelievable.

"That will come in handy for the possible flooding that may occur here next week," he continued. "The great thing is that, no matter how large a scale of a disaster we may face, the Red Cross always is prepared."

bblackwell@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 137

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