The following message is from Gail McGovern, President and CEO of the American Red Cross:
I’m sure all of you were as shocked and deeply saddened as I was to learn of the terrible shooting that occurred early Sunday morning in Orlando.
Frankly, the usual expressions of loss seem totally insufficient given the sudden and violent nature of this horrific event. But I wanted to take a few moments to let you know how the Red Cross is responding to Sunday’s tragic shooting and what you can do to help in the days and weeks ahead.
Red Cross response
Red Crossers have been on the ground in Orlando since Sunday morning, providing comfort where possible. We provided food and water to first responders in the immediate aftermath of the shooting – and supported a community vigil event held yesterday evening with canteening, health services, and behavioral health assistance.
Editor’s note: The photo below links to a Flickr album showing photos of the Red Cross response from the American Red Cross Central Florida Region:
Our mental health volunteers are onsite at a family assistance center to help counsel and support loved ones struggling to come to terms with this tragedy. Local Red Cross volunteers are also supporting the City of Orlando’s Family Emergency Hotline by answering phone calls and providing information. And we’ve begun assessing unmet needs for the injured and those with access and functional needs. Over the coming days, the Red Cross will continue to coordinate closely with local officials to determine how we can best support the community by working alongside partners.
Additionally, while Red Cross Biomedical Services doesn’t typically serve hospitals in the Orlando area, we have provided 30 units of type O negative blood to support Florida hospitals in response to the shooting.
How you can help
I know that many of you are searching for ways to help in the wake of such a senseless tragedy – and this terrible event illustrates the importance of a fulsome blood supply during times of emergency. While the Red Cross has received a tremendous outpouring of support from blood donors over the last few days, ongoing and consistent donations are vital to ensuring that we are always prepared to fulfill our mission.
Given the high volume of blood donors Red Cross facilities are expecting this week, I’d encourage all eligible and interested Red Crossers to schedule an appointment to give blood sometime in the weeks and months ahead. You can easily make an appointment by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting http://www.redcrossblood.org, or calling 1-800-RED CROSS. It’s important to note that the American Red Cross and all blood collectors in the U.S. are required to follow the rules and guidance issued by the FDA, including blood donation eligibility.
Caring for each other
This is a difficult time for everyone, and it’s important for people to connect with and care for each other. As Red Crossers, we stand together in solidarity and grief – particularly with the team from Central Florida and with our LGBT colleagues. Please listen to and support each other in the days ahead, and be sure to take good care of yourself as well.
The events of the last few days have underscored for me the how precious and fragile our lives are, and how important it is to appreciate each moment we have with families and loved ones. I know you will join me in keeping the victims of this tragedy, their friends and families, and all other affected individuals in your thoughts and prayers.