Rewarding experience found in caring for Red Cross volunteers, staff

Arlene Krebsbach, of Nixa, checks the blood pressure of American Red Cross volunteer Peggy Shipley, of the Peoria, Ill. chapter during their deployment to the historic flooding in South Carolina. (Photo by Don Underwood/American Red Cross)

Arlene Krebsbach, of Nixa, checks the blood pressure of American Red Cross volunteer Peggy Shipley, of the Peoria, Ill. chapter during their deployment to the historic flooding in South Carolina. (Photo by Don Underwood/American Red Cross)

The need to help others led American Red Cross volunteer Arlene Krebsbach, of Nixa, to the most fulfilling experience of her decades in health care.

“Caring for Red Cross volunteers and staff is the most rewarding experience I’ve ever had, and I’ve been in the medical field for 30 years,” says Arlene, 60, a Registered Nurse/Nurse Practitioner.

Her Red Cross story begins about five years ago during a live Skype conversation with her son’s family in Japan. A major earthquake occurred. The frustration of being unable to help them — and her new grandbaby — during the quake and subsequent tsunami spurred her into action at home. She volunteered for the Southern Missouri chapter.

“I wanted to help others facing such disasters.”

Now she is a health services supervisor for Red Cross staff wellness and has deployed to 11 national disasters. She is among a group of professionals at the historic flooding in South Carolina serving Red Cross staff and volunteers that reached a high of more than 1,200.

“We get to care for the sick or injured on the job. I love to help people to keep them helping other people,” Arlene points out.

Education is a goal on visits to shelters, hotels and warehouses. Health workers like Arlene aim to prevent the spread of illnesses such as the flu, promote safe practices and seek out volunteers and staff in need of care. They will also assist partner agencies on the disaster that lack a health services staff, she says.

The health workers will monitor blood pressure, diabetes and issues like heat exhaustion. Arlene has been called upon day and night to tend the ill. And there are instances when a health worker will escort an ill Red Cross member all the way home – even if it’s across the country, she says.

“At the flooding in Denver, a 47-year-old worker had a heart attack. We are all under stress. We (health staff) don’t just deal with colds and GI illnesses.”

-Don Underwood, public affairs volunteer

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