American Red Cross

American Red Cross

Infobox Organization
name = American Red Cross

image_border =
size = 160px
caption =
motto =
formation = 1881
type = NGO
status = foundation
purpose = humanitarian
headquarters = Washington, D.C.
region_served = U.S.A
budget = US$ 9.05 billion (2006) cite web|date=2007-11-21|url=|title="American Red Cross -"|accessdate=2008-09-14]
website =
The American Red Cross (also known as the American National Red Cross) is a humanitarian organization that provides emergency assistance, disaster relief and education inside the United States, and is the designated U.S. affiliate of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Today, in addition to domestic disaster relief, the American Red Cross offers services in five other areas: community services that help the needy; communications services and comfort for military members and their family members; the collection, processing and distribution of blood and blood products; educational programs on health and safety; and international relief and development programs.

Issued a corporate charter by the United States Congress under Title 36 of the United States Code, Section 3001, the American National Red Cross is governed by volunteers and supported by community donations and income from blood products. The American Red Cross is a nationwide network of more than 700 chapters and 900 Blood Services regions, in 9 divisions, dedicated to saving lives and helping people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. More than a million Red Cross volunteers and 30,000 employees annually mobilize relief to people affected by more than 67,000 disasters, train almost 12 million people in necessary medical skills and exchange more than a million emergency messages for U.S. military service personnel and their family members. The Red Cross is the largest supplier of blood and blood products to more than 3,000 hospitals nationally and also assists victims of international disasters and conflicts at locations worldwide. In 2006 the organization had over $6 billion in total revenues; revenue from blood and blood products were over $2 billion.

The American Red Cross is headquartered in Washington, D.C.. The Chairman of the Board of Governors, serving her second three-year term, is Bonnie McElveen-Hunter. The current President and Chief Executive Officer is Gail J. McGovern. Recent predecessors include Elizabeth Dole, Mary S. Elcano, Mark W. Everson and John F. McGuire. [ [,1077,0_314_7612,00.html Gail J. McGovern Biography ] ] In 2007, US legislation clarified the role for the Board of Governors and that of the senior management in the wake of difficulties following Hurricane Katrina. [citation| first=Stephanie | last=Strom |url= | title=American Red Cross Announces New Chief | publisher=The New York Times | date=2007-04-18 | accessdate=2007-04-18]

History and organization


The American Red Cross was established on May 21, 1881 by Clara Barton, in Washington, D.C. who became the first president of the organization. Barton first organized a meeting on May 12 of that year at the home of Sen. Omar D. Conger (R, MI). [" [ The Federal Charter of the American Red Cross] ", American Red Cross website. Retrieved 2007-04-18] Fifteen were present at this first meeting, including Barton, Conger, and Rep. William Lawrence (R, OH) (who became the first vice-president [McCormick, K. Todd " [ A Brief History of Logan County, Ohio] ", Logan County Museum website. Retrieved on 2007-04-18] ).

Jane Delano (1862-1919) was the founder of the American Red Cross Nursing Service.

Clara Barton

Clara Barton (1821-1912) had a career as a teacher and federal bureaucrat when the American Civil War broke out. (She started teaching around the age of 15 or 16.) After working tirelessly on humanitarian work during and after the conflict, on advice of her doctors, in 1869, she went to Europe for a restful vacation. There, she saw and became involved in the work of the International Red Cross during the Franco-Prussian War, and determined to bring the organization home with her to America.

When Clara Barton began the organizing work in the U.S. in 1873, no one thought the country would ever again face an experience like the Civil War. However, Barton was not one to lose hope in the face of the bureaucracy, and she finally succeeded during the administration of President Chester A. Arthur on the basis that the new American Red Cross organization could also be available to respond to other types of crisis.

As Barton expanded the original concept of the Red Cross to include assisting in any great national disaster, this service brought the United States the "Good Samaritan of Nations" label in the International Red Cross. Barton naturally became President of the American branch of the society, known officially as the American National Red Cross. John D. Rockefeller among four others and the federal government gave money to create a national headquarters in Washington, DC, located one block from the White House.

Clara Barton led one of the group's first major relief efforts, a response to the Great Fire of 1881 (Thumb Fire) in the Thumb region of Michigan, which occurred on Sept 4-6, 1881. Over 5000 were left homeless. The next major disaster dealt with was the Johnstown Flood which occurred on May 31, 1889. Over 2,209 people died and thousands more were injured in or near Johnstown, Pennsylvania in one of the worst disasters in United States history.

In 1975 the Clara Barton National Historic Site was established as a unit of the National Park Service at her Glen Echo, Maryland home near Washington, D.C. The first National Historic Site dedicated to the accomplishments of a woman, it preserves the early history of the American Red Cross and the last home of its founder. Clara Barton spent the last 15 years of her life in her Glen Echo home, and it served as an early headquarters of the American Red Cross as well.

The National Park Service has restored eleven rooms, including the Red Cross offices, parlors and Miss Barton's bedroom. Visitors to Clara Barton National Historic Site can gain a sense of how Miss Barton lived and worked surrounded by all that went into her life's work. Visitors to the site are led through the three levels on a guided tour emphasizing Miss Barton's use of her unusual home, and come to appreciate the site in the same way visitors did in Clara Barton's lifetime. [" [ Clara Barton National Historic Site: The House] ", National Park Service website. Retrieved 2007-04-18.]

Barton resigned from the American Red Cross in 1904.

ARC Chairmen

*John Barton Payne 1921-35
*Cary Travers Grayson 1935-38
*Basil O'Connor (also president of the ARC) 1944-49
*Jerome H. Holland 1980-85
*W. E. Whetstone (director of the ARC, dates unknown)

Celebrity Cabinet

Every year, the American Red Cross establishes a "National Celebrity Cabinet", started in 2002 as part of the "Entertainment Outreach Program" to help the ARC highlight initiatives and response efforts.

The public figures are described as being "on-call" to help the Red Cross by donating their time to lend their names to various projects. [" [ American Red Cross National Celebrity Cabinet] ", ARC website. Retrieved 2007-09-24.]

2007 members include Kristen Bell, Zach Braff, Pierce Brosnan, Jackie Chan, George Foreman, Vivica Fox, The Rock, Eli Manning, Dr Phil McGraw, Julianne Moore, Jane Seymour and Daddy Yankee. [" [ National Celebrity Cabinet 2007 Members] ", ARC website. Retrieved 2007-09-24.]

Blood Services

Blood Donation

The American Red Cross supplies roughly 44% of the donated blood in the United States. Community-based blood centers supply 50% and 6% is collected directly by hospitals. In December 2004, the American Red Cross completed their largest blood processing facility in the United States in Pomona, California on the campus grounds of the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.

Tissue services

For more than twenty years, the American Red Cross provided allograft tissue for transplant through sales in its Tissue Services Program. It cared for thousands of donor families who gave the gift of tissue donation and sold donated tissue to more than 1 million transplant recipients in need of this life saving or life-enhancing gift of tissue. At the end of January 2005, the American Red Cross ended its Tissue Services program in order to focus on its primary missions of Disaster Relief and Blood Services.

Plasma services

A leader in the plasma industry, the Red Cross provides more than one quarter of the nation's plasma products. Red Cross Plasma Services seeks to provide the American people with plasma products which are not only reliable and cost-effective, but also as safe as possible.

In February 1999, the Red Cross completed its "Transformation," a $287 million program that: re-engineered Red Cross Blood Services' processing, testing and distribution system; and established a new management structure.

Nucleic Acid Testing (NAT)

On March 1, 1999, the American Red Cross became the first U.S. blood banking organization to implement a Nucleic Acid Testing (NAT) study. This process is different from traditional testing because it looks for the genetic material of HIV and hepatitis C (HCV), rather than the body's response to the disease.

The NAT tests for HIV and HCV have been licensed by the Food and Drug Administration. These tests are able to detect the genetic material of a transfusion-transmitted virus like HIV without waiting for the body to form antibodies, potentially offering an important time advantage over current techniques.


A person's own leukocytes (white blood cells) help fight off foreign substances such as bacteria, viruses and abnormal cells, to avoid sickness or disease. But when transfused to another person, these same leukocytes do not benefit the recipient. In fact, these foreign leukocytes in transfused red blood cells and platelets are often not well tolerated and have been associated with some types of transfusion complications.

The Red Cross is moving toward system-wide universal prestorage leukocyte reduction to improve patient care.


The Red Cross operates the Jerome H. Holland blood laboratory in Rockville, Maryland. Each year, the Red Cross invests more than $25 million in research activities at the Holland Laboratory and in the field.

Cellular therapies

One technique the Red Cross has identified strong potential for treating people in new ways is through cellular therapies. This new method of treatment involves collecting and treating blood cells from a patient or other blood donor. The treated cells are then introduced into a patient to help revive normal cell function; replace cells that are lost as a result of disease, accidents or aging; or used to prevent illnesses from appearing.

Cellular therapy may prove to be particularly helpful for patients who are being treated for illnesses such as cancer, where the treated cells may help battle cancerous cells.

Health and Safety Services

The American Red Cross provides first aid, Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), Automated external defibrillator (AED), water safety and lifeguarding, babysitting, disaster preparedness, and home safety training throughout the United States. The training programs are primarily aimed at laypersons, workplaces, and aquatic facilities. The American Red Cross teaches around 12 million Americans these skills annually, ranging from youth to professional rescuers. In 2005 the American Red Cross co-led the 2005 Guidelines for First Aid, which aims to provide up-to-date and peer-reviewed first aid training material. Many American Red Cross chapters also have for sale first aid kits, disaster kits, and similar, related equipment.

Disaster Services

Each year, the American Red Cross responds immediately to more than 70,000 disasters, including house or apartment fires (the majority of disaster responses), hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, hazardous materials spills, transportation accidents, explosions, and other natural and man-made disasters.

Although the American Red Cross is not a government agency, its authority to provide disaster relief was formalized when, in 1905, the Red Cross was granted a congressional charter to "carry on a system of national and international relief in time of peace and apply the same in mitigating the sufferings caused by pestilence, famine, fire, floods, and other great national calamities, and to devise and carry on measures for preventing the same." The Charter is not only a grant of power, but also an imposition of duties and obligations to the nation, to disaster victims, and to the people who support its work with their donations.

American Red Cross disaster relief focuses on meeting people's immediate emergency disaster-caused needs. When a disaster threatens or strikes, the Red Cross provides shelter, food, and health and mental health services to address basic human needs. In addition to these services, the core of Red Cross disaster relief is the assistance given to individuals and families affected by disaster to enable them to resume their normal daily activities independently. The organization also provides translation and interpretation to those affected when necessary, and maintains a database of multilingual volunteers to enable this. [ cite web|url= |title=American Red Cross -- Community Services |accessdate=2008-04-18 |publisher=American Red Cross |archiveurl= |archivedate=2007-08-25 ]

The Red Cross also feeds emergency workers of other agencies, handles inquiries from concerned family members outside the disaster area, provides blood and blood products to disaster victims, and helps those affected by disaster to access other available resources. It is a member of the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) and works closely with other agencies such as the Salvation Army and the Amateur Radio Emergency Service with whom it has Memorandums of Understanding.

The American Red Cross also works hard to encourage preparedness by providing important literature on readiness. Many chapters also offer free classes to the general public.

A major misconception by the general public is that the American Red Cross provides medical facilities, engages in search and rescue operations or deploys ambulances to disaster areas. As an emergency support agency, the American Red Cross does not engage in these first responder activities; instead, these first responder roles are left to local, state or federal agencies as dictated by the National Response Plan. The confusion arises since other Red Cross societies across the globe may provide these functions; for example, the Cruz Roja Mexicana (Mexican Red Cross) runs a national ambulance service. Furthermore, American Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicles (ERVs) look similar to ambulances. These ERVs instead are designed for bulk distribution of relief supplies, such as hot meals, drinks or other relief supplies. Although American Red Cross shelters usually have a nurse assigned to the facility, they are not equipped to provide medical care beyond emergency first aid.

Disaster Services Human Resources system

The Disaster Services Human Resources (DSHR) system enrolls volunteers from individual American Red Cross chapters into a national database of responders, classified by their ability to serve in one or more Activities within Groups. The activities vary from obvious ones such as feeding and sheltering ("Mass Care") to more specialized ones such as warehousing, damage assessment, financial accounting, radio and computer communications, public affairs and counseling. Responders must complete training requirements specific to the Activities they wish to serve in, as well as the basics required of all Disaster Service volunteers, which include a background check as well as training in First Aid, CPR/AED and Red Cross internal training.

National Response Plan

As a National Response Plan direct service provider, the American Red Cross feeds and shelters victims of disasters. In addition to fulfilling this role, the American Red Cross is responsible for coordinating federal efforts to address mass care, housing, and human services under Emergency Support Function 6 with FEMA. The American Red Cross is the only charity to serve as a primary agency under any Emergency Support Function. The plan gives the American Red Cross responsibility for coordinating federal mass care assistance in support of state and local efforts. The American Red Cross also has responsibilities under other Emergency Support Functions, such as providing counseling services and working with the federal government to distribute ice and water. FEMA’s responsibilities include convening regular meetings with key agencies and coordinating the transition of service delivery from mass care operations to long-term recovery activities, among other responsibilities. [" [ Hurricanes Katrina and Rita: Provision of Charitable Assistance] " United States Government Accountability Office, 2005-12-13 pp. 3-4. Retrieved 2007-04-18]

Disaster Responses

2005 Hurricanes

The 2005 Hurricane Season proved to be the most challenging disaster response the American Red Cross had ever seen in its history. Forecasting a major disaster before the landfall of Hurricane Katrina, the organization enlisted 2,000 volunteers throughout the nation to be on a "stand by" deployment list.

According to the American Red Cross, during and after the Hurricanes Katrina, Wilma and Rita, they opened 1,470 different shelters across and registered 3.8 million overnight stays. A total of 244,000 Red Cross workers (95% of whom were non-paid volunteers) were utilized to provide sheltering, casework, communication and assessment services throughout these three hurricanes. In addition, 346,980 comfort kits (which contain hygiene essentials such as toothpaste, soap, washclothes and toys for children) and 205,360 clean up kits (containing brooms, mops and bleach) were distributed. For mass care, the organization served 68 million snacks and meals to victims of the disasters and to rescue workers. The Red Cross also had their Disaster Health services meet 596,810 contacts, and Disaster Mental Health services meet 826,590 contacts. Red Cross emergency financial assistance was provided to 1.4 million families, which encompassed a total of 4 million people. Hurricane Katrina was the first natural disaster in the United States that the American Red Cross utilized their "Safe and Well" family location website. [" [ A Year of Healing] " The American Red Cross, August 2006. Retrieved 2007-04-18] [" [ Hurricane Season 2005] ", American Red Cross website, 2006-06-30. Retrieved 2007-04-18.]

On February 3, 2006, 5 months after Katrina's landfall, the American Red Cross announced that it had met its fundraising goals, and would no longer engage in new 2005 Hurricane relief fundraising. The National organization urged the public to help other charities engaged in hurricane relief work, or to donate to their local Red Cross chapters. An American Red Cross statement was issued saying that 91 cents of every dollar donated specifically for the Hurricane Katrina disaster will go directly to disaster relief. This overhead of only 9% is quite low for such a large organization.

Hurricane Katrina controversy

In March 2006, investigations of allegations of fraud and theft by volunteers and contractors within the American Red Cross Katrina operations were launched by the Louisiana Attorney-General and the FBI. [" [ Red Cross probed on Katrina fraud] ", BBC News Online, 2006-03-27. Retrieved 2007-04-18.] In response, the American Red Cross increased its internal and external education of the organization's fraud and waste hotline for confidential reporting to a third party agency.Fact|date=April 2007 The organization also elected to implement a background check policy for all volunteers and staff, starting in 2006.

In April 2006, an unnamed former American Red Cross official leaked reports made by the International Committee of the Red Cross and the British Red Cross. Such reports are typical in a large-scale disaster relief operation involving other national Red Cross societies to solicit their input, but are usually confidential and not released to the general public. These particular reports were particularly critical of American Red Cross operations in Hurricane Katrina affected regions, although the British Red Cross report highly praised the American Red Cross volunteers in their efforts.

June 2008 Midwest floods

In response to the June 2008 Midwest floods, the American Red Cross anticipates spending in excess of $15 Million for these recent disasters. There is serious and widespread damage and the American Red Cross is helping the victims of flooding and tornadoes across seven states-an enormous geographic area. From the plains of Kansas to the mountains of West Virginia, the Red Cross is on the scene with vast amounts of clean up supplies, dozens of shelters and tens of thousands of meals. Less than two weeks into hurricane season and already the Red Cross is facing the largest combined relief effort since last fall’s October 2007 California wildfires. The American Red Cross is handling 11 major relief operations and the biggest flooding operation in 15 years. The current relief operations follow two extremely busy months for the Red Cross, with 27 disaster operations in April and May. [cite web
title =2008 Midwest Flooding - American Red Cross Issues Appeal For Disaster Relief Fund
publisher =American Red Cross
date =2008-06-14
url =,1077,0_314_7844,00.html
accessdate =2008-06-15

Comair Air Crash

In response to the crash of commuter aircraft Comair Flight 5191, the Bluegrass Area Chapter and the American Red Cross Critical Response Team (CRT) members were dispatched to the scene. This was the worst air disaster within the United States since American Airlines Flight 587. Family and Friends reception centers were established near the arrival and departure airports and in Cincinnati, site of the Comair headquarters. Local chapters in Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky and California provided health, mental health to family members and friends of the victims not present in Lexington. Volunteers also staffed the local Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Lexington, Kentucky, the incident command post at the airport site and the State EOC. As of August 29th 2006, 400 meals had been served by the American Red Cross to family and friends of those involved in the crash, in addition to rescue workers. The Red Cross provided emotional support to the family members of the victims at a near by Service Center. [Lawson, Katie " [,1072,0_312_5601,00.html Red Cross Responds to Commercial Jet Crash in Kentucky] ", American Red Cross, 2006-08-26. Retrieved 2007-04-18.]

2007 Florida Tornadoes

In response to the Central Florida Tornado of February 2007, the American Red Cross began a large scale disaster relief operation. At least seven shelters have been opened in the disaster affected region, with Southern Baptists starting to provide food. 40,000 pre-packaged meals are being sent by the American Red Cross, and across the nation, almost 400 Red Cross volunteers are being deployed to assist with the local relief efforts. The organization has also deployed more than 30 Emergency Response Vehicles for community food and supply distribution. [Hackett, Alexandra " [ Volunteers descend on Central Florida] ", Tampa Bay's 10 News. Retrieved 2007-04-18.]

2007 Kansas Tornadoes

The American Red Cross immediately responded to the May 2007 Tornado Outbreak in central Kansas by setting up emergency shelters for hundreds of displaced residents and started the distribution of food, water and relief supplies. [ [,1077,0_314_6674,00.html American Red Cross responding to Midwest Tornadoes More than 400 men, women and children in Red Cross Shelters] ] The 'Safe and Well' family notification website for locating missing loved ones was also activated. [ [,1077,0_314_6675,00.html American Red Cross Help Unite Missing Family Members in Kansas List Yourself or Loved Ones on Safe And Well Website] ]

Minneapolis Bridge Collapse

Following the collapse of the I-35W Mississippi River bridge, the American Red Cross of the Twin Cities Area Chapter responded with their Disaster Action Team to provide families and rescuers food, information and comfort. A family service center was set up close to the accident site, along with deploying mental health counselors to numerous locations. [cite news|author=Boone, Beth|title=Red Cross Chapter Serves as Focal Point of Response Efforts|url=,1072,0_312_6898,00.html|publisher=The American National Red Cross|date=2007-08-03|accessdate=2007-08-28 and cite press release|title=Red Cross on Scene of Minneapolis I-35W Bridge Collapse|url=,1072,0_312_6893,00.html|publisher=The American National Red Cross|date=2007-08-02|accessdate=2007-08-28] Donations contributed for this cause totaled US$138,368 and covered the cost of Red Cross services [cite news|author=O'Connor, Debra|title=How to give wisely after Minnesota's disasters|url=|work=Pioneer Press|publisher=MediaNews Group, Inc.|date=2007-08-24|accessdate=2007-08-25] but not $65,000 in unexpected expenses. [cite news|author=Louwagie, Pam|title=Bridge Disaster Fund tops $564,000|url=|work=Star Tribune|publisher=Avista Capital Partners|date=2007-09-10|accessdate=2007-09-10] Weather conditions and the collapse placed 70% of Minnesota counties in federal primary or contiguous disaster areas during August 2007. [Minnesota designated counties are found in three places: cite press release|author=Farm Service Agency Public Affairs Staff|title=USDA DESIGNATES 24 MINNESOTA COUNTIES AS PRIMARY NATURAL DISASTER AREAS|url=|publisher=Farm Service Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture|date=2007-08-07|accessdate=2007-08-25 and cite web|title=Disaster Declaration #10991|author=Preston, Steven C., Administrator|url=|format=PDF|publisher=U.S. Small Business Administration|date=2007-08-22|accessdate=2007-08-25 and cite press release|title=Designated Counties for Minnesota Severe Storms and Flooding (Disaster Summary For FEMA-1717-DR, Minnesota)|url=|publisher=Federal Emergency Management Agency|date=2007-08-23, updated 2007-08-28|accessdate=2007-08-28] As of 2007-08-24 the Red Cross needed Disaster Relief Fund donations for the flooding in the Midwestern United States including Minnesota that followed a prolonged drought. [cite press release|title=Persistent Flooding Devastates the Midwest and South Central U.S.|url=,1077,0_314_6962,00.html|publisher=The American National Red Cross|date=2007-08-24|accessdate=2007-08-28] On 2007-08-08, the Twin Cities chapter lowered the United States, state of Minnesota and Red Cross flags to half-staff indefinitely. [cite press release|title=Flags Lowered to Half Staff at Red Cross Headquarters|url=|publisher=American Red Cross Twin Cities Area Chapter|date=2007-08-08|accessdate=2007-08-26]

International Services

The American Red Cross, as part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and its nearly 100 million volunteers, educates and mobilizes communities to overcome life-threatening vulnerabilities. The core focus areas of the American Red Cross International Services Department are global health, disaster preparedness and response, and Restoring Family Links and International Humanitarian Law dissemination. The American Red Cross is involved with many international projects, such as the Measles Initiative, malaria programs in Africa, disaster responses worldwide, and relief efforts in response to the 2004 South Asia tsunami.

American Red Cross international disaster response and preparedness programs provide relief and development assistance to millions of people annually who suffer as a result of natural and human-made disasters around the world. To respond quickly and effectively, the American Red Cross has pre-positioned emergency relief supplies in two warehouses managed by the International Federation in Dubai and Panama, which are used to respond to disasters such as the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami disaster, the 2005 Pakistan/South Asia earthquake, ongoing crises in Africa and hurricanes in the Caribbean and the Americas. An Emergency Response Unit (ERU) is another method with which the American Red Cross responds to international emergencies. An ERU is made up of trained personnel and pre-packaged technical equipment that is crucial in responding to sudden, large-scale disasters and emergencies in remote locations.

American Red Cross International Services global health initiatives focus on reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, and combating infectious diseases. Through cost-effective, community-based health interventions, the American Red Cross targets large numbers of people in need and focuses on accessibility and equity of care, community participation, and integration with other community development initiatives, such as water and sanitation projects and food and nutrition programs. An example of its health programming is the Measles Initiative, launched in 2001, as a partnership committed to reducing measles deaths globally, with the goal of cutting measles deaths by 90% by 2010 compared to 2000. Leading these efforts are the American Red Cross, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United Nations Foundation, UNICEF and the World Health Organization. During its first five years (2001-2005), the Initiative supported the vaccination of more than 217 million children in Africa, saving 1.2 million lives. Through these efforts, measles cases and deaths have dropped by 48% worldwide and by 60% in Africa, where measles deaths and disability are highest. Building on its success in Africa, the Initiative has expanded into Asia. The Initiative increasingly provides additional complementary life-saving health interventions in its campaigns, including vitamin A, de-worming medicine and insecticide-treated bed nets for malaria prevention. The Measles Initiative has mobilized more than $308 million to support campaigns in more than 43 countries in Africa and Asia.

In December 2006, the American Red Cross joined as a founding partner of the Malaria No More campaign, which was formed by leading non-governmental organizations to inspire individuals, institutions and organizations in the private sector to support a comprehensive approach to end malaria, a devastating but preventable disease The American Red Cross role in Malaria No More is to support local Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers in Africa who are educating families and communities about malaria prevention and treatment, such as proper and consistent use of insecticide-treated bed nets. The American Red Cross provides technical assistance and capacity-building support to its partners to fight malaria in even the most difficult-to-reach communities.

The American Red Cross handles international tracing requests and searches for families who have been separated by war or natural or man-made disaster and are trying to locate relatives worldwide. This is not a genealogical service but one that attempts to re-establish contact between family members separated at a time of war or disaster. Restoring Family Links services also provide the exchange of hand-written Red Cross Messages between individuals and their relatives who may be refugees or prisoners of war. At any given time, the American Red Cross Restoring Family Links program is handling the aftermath of 20-30 wars and conflicts. The world-wide structure of Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies and the International Committee of the Red Cross make this service possible. When new information from many former Soviet Union archives became available in that 1990s, a special unit, named the Holocaust and War Victims Tracing Center, was created to handle World War II and Holocaust tracing services. As part of its mission, American Red Cross International Services has a mandate to educate the American public about the guiding principles of international humanitarian law (IHL) for conduct in warfare as set forth by the Geneva Conventions of 1949. In doing so, American Red Cross International Services provides support to American Red Cross chapters nationwide in their IHL dissemination efforts, offering IHL courses and providing training opportunities for IHL instructors. It is also working toward the implementation of the Exploring Humanitarian Law (EHL) program in the United States.

ervice to the Armed Forces

Although not a government agency, the American Red Cross provides emergency and non-emergency services to the United States military. The most notable service is emergency family communications, where families can contact the Red Cross to send important family messages (such as a death in the family, or new birth). In such, the Red Cross can also act as a verifying agency of the situation. The Red Cross also provides, in certain cases, "Health and Welfare Reports" on military dependents upon request of military interests. The American Red Cross works closely with other military societies, such as the Veteran's Administration, to provide other services to soldiers and their families. The American Red Cross is not involved with prisoners of war; rather, these are monitored by the International Committee of the Red Cross, an international body distinctly independent of any nation.

Many Second World War veterans as well as beyond, i.e., Korean Conflict, remember the American Red Cross selling "comfort items" such as toothpaste, coffee, donuts, and cigarettes to the troops. The American Red Cross charged a nickel for coffee or a donut. There was also a charge to American GIs for off-base food and lodging. The suggestion had been made in a letter dated March 1942 from the Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson to Norman H. Davis, the chairman of the American Red Cross. The thought was that allied soldiers were being charged so Americans should be charged too so as not to bring down morale. The Red Cross was not required to do so by the Army but the Red Cross did adopt it as policy. That decision has haunted them to this day.

Digruntled American soldiers have never forgotten that they were charged for coffee, donuts, and other sundries, when their families were donating to the organization on the homefront in an attempt to help the soldiers abroad. That act has sullied the family support of the organization for generations since. A bad feeling exists to this day and resentments have carried forward to future generations of those soldiers and many families have boycotted the Red Cross ever since WWII.

In an effort to make amends, during Veteran's Day 2007, the American Red Cross pledged a long overdue apology to veterans.

In a statement, the Red Cross wrote in part:

"Thank you for your service to our country. And thank you for your support of the American Red Cross. And, now and forever, the coffee and doughnuts are on us."

The Red Cross also set up a tent near the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C. and gave away coupons for coffee and doughnuts as they solicited donations for the organization.

Undoubtedly, it is an apology that many will disregard as too little - too late


=Johnson & Johnson suit over Red Cross

According to the American Red Cross on August the 7th 2007 [ [,1077,0_314_6907,00.html J&J (NYSE: JNJ) Sues Red Cross Over Use of Red Cross Emblem ] ] , Johnson & Johnson have filed suit against the American Red Cross over its sublicensing of the Red Cross image for the production of first aid kits and similar products, which are alleged to compete with Johnson & Johnson. The suit also asks for the destruction of all currently existing non-Johnson & Johnson Red Cross Emblem bearing products and demands the American Red Cross pay punitive damages and Johnson & Johnson's legal fees.

The Red Cross' position is that it has licensed its name to first aid kit makers in an effort to encourage readiness for disasters, and that the revenues from its products are reinvested in humanitarian work. "For a multi-billion dollar drug company to claim that the Red Cross violated a criminal statute that was created to protect the humanitarian mission of the Red Cross - simply so that J&J can make more money - is obscene," said Mark Everson, the former chief executive of the charity. [ [ Johnson & Johnson sues the Red Cross - Business News, Business - ] ] Johnson & Johnson responded, stating that the Red Cross's commercial ventures were outside the scope of historically well-agreed usage, and were in direct violation of federal statutes. [ Johnson & Johnson Press Release] . Statement on Civil Complaint Against The American National Red Cross. August 9, 2007.] Johnson & Johnson's usage of this image is prohibited by the Geneva conventions, which do not allow for the exemption allowed for by US law. [ 1st Geneva Convention. Chapter VII. Art 44. ]

May 14th 2008, A federal judge ruled against Johnson & Johnson (J&J) in its suit to stop the American Red Cross from using the Red Cross emblem on first aid and other health and safety products sold to the public. [ Opinion and order by U.S. District Court Judge Jed S. Rakoff.]

Court ordered consent decree

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) took court action against the American Red Cross in response to deficiencies in their tracking and procedures for ensuring the safety of the blood supply. The consent decree outlines some of the violations of federal law that the American Red Cross engaged in before 1993. [" [ Consent Decree Notification] ", U.S. Food and Drug Administration website, (2003-04-13). Retrieved on 2007-04-18.] Fines were imposed in the millions of dollars.

In response to the decree, Red Cross Biomedical Services now has a standardized computer system that efficiently maintains the blood donor database; a network of five, [citation| url=,1082,0_494_,00.html | accessdate=2008-7-3] state-of-the-art National Testing Laboratories (NTLs) that test about 6 million units of blood collected by the Red Cross's 36 blood regions; the Charles Drew Biomedical Institute, which allows for the Red Cross to provide training and other educational resources to Red Cross Blood Services' personnel; a highly qualified Quality Assurance/Regulatory Affairs Department, which helps to ensure compliance with FDA regulations in every Red Cross Blood Services region; and, a centrally managed blood inventory system to ensure the consistent availability of blood and blood components in every Red Cross Blood Services region throughout the country.

In an agreement with the American Red Cross the Consent Decree was amended in 2003 with penalties for specific violations.

The FDA can impose penalties after April 2003 up to the following maximum amounts:
* $10,000 per event (and $10,000 per day) for any violation of an ARC standard operating procedure (SOP), the law, or consent decree requirement and timeline
* $50,000 for preventable release of each unit of blood for which FDA determines that there is a reasonable probability that the product may cause serious adverse health consequences or death
**$5,000 for the release of each unit that may cause temporary problems, up to a maximum of $500,000 per event
* $50,000 for the improper re-release of each unsuitable blood unit that was returned to ARC inventory
* $10,000 for each donor inappropriately omitted from the National Donor Deferral Registry, a list of all unsuitable donors

The Food and Drug Administration has continued to apply pressure and fines to the American Red Cross in order to enforce compliance with regulations. The most recent, $1.7 million, in June 2008. [citation| first=Gardiner | last=Harris | url= | title=Red Cross Is Fined For Blood Violations | publisher=The Washington Post | date=2008-06-10 | accessdate=2008-07-27]

eptember 11 controversy

In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks, the Red Cross, like many charitable organizations, solicited funds and blood donations for Red Cross activities for the victims of the attacks. Dr. Bernadine Healy, the president of the American Red Cross, appeared on telethons urging individuals to give generously.Fact|date=May 2007 However, according to America's Blood Centers, the nonprofit consortium that provides the other 50% of the United States blood supply, no national blood drive was needed, since localized blood drives in the affected areas would be sufficient to meet the demand. The American Red Cross felt that the terrorist attacks were a sign of increased instability and urged people to donate blood, even though it wasn't needed at that time. In the end, some blood was destroyed unused.Fact|date=May 2007

Also, the American Red Cross created the "Liberty Fund" that was ostensibly designed for relief for victims of the terrorist attacks. However, when the fund was closed in October, after exceeding the goals of donations, only 30% of the $547 million received was spent as the standard disaster relief guidelines for meeting victims needs had been supplied to them. Dr. Healy announced that the majority of the remainder of the money would be used to increase blood supply, improve telecommunications, and prepare for terror attacks in other parts of the country.

In February 2002, "The New Yorker" magazine reported that American Red Cross representatives were visiting upscale apartment buildings in wealthy Manhattan neighborhoods and distributing donated money (up to three months' rent or mortgage payments) to New Yorkers who had been "displaced, traumatized, or merely inconvenienced" by the terrorist attacks, without any regard to whether the recipients were actually in financial need .

Many donors felt that they had donated specifically to the victims of the September 11 attacks and objected to Healy's official plan for the diversion of funds. Survivors complained of the bureaucratic process involved in requesting funds and the slow delivery of the checks to meet immediate needs. Congressional hearings were called and New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer investigated the Red Cross. In the end, the American Red Cross appointed former U.S. senator George Mitchell to handle distribution of the funds. Dr. Healy was forced to resign for her role in the situation, and the Red Cross pledged that all funds would go to directly benefit the victims of the September 11 attacks. [Williams, Grant " [ Red Cross President Resigns Under Pressure From Board] ", The Chronicle of Philanthropy, 2001-10-26. Retrieved 2007-04-18.] Healy received a severance payment of $1,569,630. [" [ American Red Cross report] " Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance, May 2003. Retrieved 2007-04-18.] In the end, out of the $961 million received, 71% went as cash assistance to those directly affected, 15% went for long term mental care and hospital care for the victims and people in the affected region, and 10% went for immediate disaster relief like shelters, food, and health care. The remaining 4% went for administration.

Significant changes to Red Cross fundraising collection and policy have since been implemented after the Liberty Fund debacle. Numerous watchdog organizations, such as Charity Navigator, have since given high praise to the improved system of honoring donor's intent and minimizing administration costs.

Blood Donation Controversy

The American Red Cross has for many years faced criticism from LGBT advocacy organizations for prohibiting men who have sex with men from donating blood. This policy is in fact a requirement for all blood collection companies and organizations in the United States, as outlined by the US Food and Drug Administration. Specifically, the FDA classifies "Men who have had sex with another man even one time since 1977... Unsuitable Donors who Are at Increased Risk for HIV". [ [ 1992 Recommendations for the prevention of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Transmission by Blood and Blood Products ] ] Consequently, the American Red Cross is legally unable to collect blood from men who have sex with men. The organization in 2006, along with the AABB and America’s Blood Centers, petitioned to the FDA to remove the requirement from blood donations, citing better screening technologies. [ [ Red Cross calls for end to ban on gay blood donors | Health News | ] ] [ [ NPR: American Red Cross Fights Ban on Gays' Blood ] ] Despite the petition, the FDA has yet to reverse its stance on the issue.


Further reading

*Foster Rhea Dulles "American Red Cross" (Harper & Brothers, 1952) - out of print, but may be available at Alibris
*Charles Hurd "The Compact History of the American Red Cross" (Hawthorn Books, Inc., 1959) - out of print
* [ "The Congressional Charter of the American National Red Cross: Overview, History, and Analysis"] Kevin R. Kosar March 2006
* [ "The Red Cross Response to the Mississippi Flood of 1927"] Kevin R. Kosar October 2005

External links

* [ Official website]
* [ Blood Donations]
* [ Official youth website]
* [ Interview with new American Red Cross CEO Mark Everson]
* [ "Clara Barton's House: Home of the American Red Cross," a National Park Service Teaching with Historic Places (TwHP) lesson plan]
* [ ARC history and WWII women's uniforms in color] — WWII US women's service organizations (ARC, WAC, WAVES, ANC, NNC, USMCWR, PHS, SPARS and WASP)]
* [] provides finding aid to article subject from the Special Collections, Washington State Historical Society (WSHS)

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