Nurses are an essential part of the American Red Cross and have been since the earliest days of the organization. Nursing was at the core of the International Red Cross Movement since its inception, and Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, first came to public attention as an individual who provided aid to soldiers during the Civil War.
As necessity dictates
Red Cross nurses were involved mainly in disaster relief and support to the military during the early years, generally serving on an “as-needed” basis. When picturing a Red Cross nurse, many people think of the iconic posters from early last century with women in flowing white dresses and a Red Cross emblem on their nursing cap.
We are proud of that legacy, but today’s reality involves a diverse group of healthcare professionals ready for 21st century action — whether after a disaster, at a blood drive, in a classroom or in a board room.
More than 15,000 health professionals are involved in the organization today. Almost all are volunteers who promote resilience through caring and leadership; they care for and provide services to individuals, families and communities.
Everything’s on the table
While many Red Cross nurses are on the front line during disaster relief operations, they also collect blood, develop and provide course instruction, and volunteer in military and VA health care systems. Others support the global Measles & Rubella Initiative through lifesaving education about immunizations. Leadership roles include serving as board members, program directors, chapter CEOs, advisory committee and workgroup members.
I am grateful for the many ways that nurses worldwide are responding to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Red Cross nurses, nursing students, and other health professionals stand ready to support all operations and I encourage others to join us. As Chief Nurse, my vision is to empower a flexible, nimble, and diverse workforce ready to fulfill the Red Cross mission to bring comfort to those who are in trouble, alleviate suffering, and save lives. I sincerely thank all who are and will serve during this current crisis.