American Red Cross

The American Red Cross (ARC), also known as The American National Red Cross,[4] is a humanitarian organization that provides emergency assistance, disaster relief, and disaster preparedness education in the United States. It is the designated US affiliate of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the United States movement to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

The organization offers services and development programs.[5]

American Red Cross
American Red Cross logo
FormationMay 21, 1881
FounderClara Barton
Legal statusInstrumentality of the United States and a body corporate and politic[1]
PurposeHumanitarian aid
HeadquartersAmerican Red Cross National Headquarters
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Region served
United States
Gail J. McGovern[2]
Main organ
Board of Governors
US$2,714,189,000 (2017)[3]

History and organization


ARC was established in Washington, D.C. on May 21, 1881, by Clara Barton. She became its first president. Barton organized a meeting on May 12 of that year at the home of Senator Omar D. Conger (R, MI).[6] Fifteen people were present at this first meeting, including Barton, Conger and Representative William Lawrence (R, OH) (who became the first vice president).[7][8] The first local chapter was established in 1881 at the English Evangelical Lutheran Church of Dansville, New York.[9]

Jane Delano (1862–1919) founded the American Red Cross Nursing Service on January 20, 1910.[10]

Clara Barton

Clara Barton (1821–1912) founded the American chapter after learning of the Red Cross in Geneva, Switzerland. In 1869, she went to Europe and became involved in the work of the International Red Cross during the Franco-Prussian War. She was determined to bring the organization to America.[11]

Clara Barton1
Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross

Barton became President of the American branch of the society, known as the American National Red Cross in May 1881 in Washington. The first chapters opened in upstate New York, where she had connections.[12] Ultimately, John D. Rockefeller and four others donated money to help create a national headquarters near the White House.[13] Frederick Douglass, famed abolitionist and friend of Clara Barton offered advice and support as Barton sought to establish the American chapter or the global Red Cross network. As Register of Deeds for the District of Columbia, Douglass also signed the original Articles of Incorporation for the American Red Cross.

American Red Cross Administrative Headquarters
American Red Cross Administrative Headquarters in Washington, D.C.
USA-American National Red Cross0
American National Red Cross

Barton led one of the group's first major relief efforts, a response to the September 4–6, 1881 Great Fire of 1881 (Thumb Fire) in the Thumb region of Michigan. Over 5,000 people were left homeless. The next major disaster 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.

Progressive reform

Barton was unable to build up a staff she trusted and her fundraising was lackluster. She was forced out in 1904. Professional social work experts took control and made the group a model of Progressive Era scientific reform.[14] New leader Mabel Thorp Boardman constantly consulted with senior government officials, military officers, social workers, and financiers. William Howard Taft was especially influential. They imposed an ethos of "managerialism", transforming the agency from Barton's cult of personality to an "organizational humanitarianism" ready for expansion.[15]


ARC is a nationwide network of 264 chapters and 36 blood service regions. Approximately 166,000 Red Cross volunteers, including FemaCorps and AmeriCorps members, and 30,000 employees annually mobilize relief to people affected by more than 67,000 disasters, train almost 4 million people in necessary medical skills and exchange more than a million emergency messages for U.S. military service personnel and their family members. ARC is the largest supplier of blood and blood products in the US, supplying 2,600 hospitals ( approximately 39% of the US blood supply). The charity also assists victims of international disasters and conflicts worldwide, connecting separated family members. In 2006, the organization had over $6 billion in total revenues, though revenues have fallen since Katrina. At that time, revenue from blood and blood products alone was over $2 billion - biological services generally represents about 63% of total operating expenses, though the unit often operates at a deficit.

The American Red Cross is divided into five divisions: Disaster Services, Blood Services, Training Services, International Services, and Service to the Armed Forces.



Recent presidents and CEOs include Gail McGovern, Elizabeth Dole, Bernadine Healy, Mary S. Elcano, Mark W. Everson and John F. McGuire.[2] In 2007, U.S. legislation clarified the role for the Board of Governors and that of the senior management in the wake of difficulties following Hurricane Katrina.[16]


As of November 2017, the American Red Cross scores three out of four stars in Charity Navigator[17] and B+ at CharityWatch.[18]

In 1996, the Chronicle of Philanthropy, an industry magazine, released the results of the largest study of charitable and non-profit organization popularity and credibility. The study showed that ARC was ranked as the third "most popular charity/non-profit in America" of over 100 charities researched with 48% of Americans over the age of 12 choosing "Love", and "Like A lot" to describe the Red Cross.[19]

Notable members

  • Cora L. Abbott, organizer of Turlock Red Cross Chapter[20]
  • Minnie C. Benson, American Red Cross Reserve alist[20]
  • Inez Mee Boren, organizing chairwoman of the Lindsay Strathmore Branch of the American Red Cross[20]
  • Emily M. Bruen, member of Committee for Red Cross[20]
  • Emilie Henry Burcham, treasurer Spokane Chapter American Red Cross[20]
  • Euna Pearl Burke, member of Board of Directors of Red Cross (local chapter)[20]
  • Emma P. Chadwick, member Executive Board of Red Cross[20]
  • Louise Keller Cherry, on Board of Directors of Salt Lake County Red Cross[20]
  • Naomi Deutsch[21]
  • Ella M. Doane, American Red Cross worker[20]
  • Jane V. Doyle, executive secretary Portland Chapter American Red Cross, with the American Red Cross since July 1, 1919[20]
  • Martha Marie Elder, executive secretary of Service Section American Red Cross[20]
  • Sally S. Emory, vice-chairwoman Board of American Red Cross[20]
  • Stella A. H. Finkeldey, secretary of Santa Cruz Chapter of American Red Cross[20]
  • Inglis Fletcher, originator of Junior Red Cross Hospital program in Spokane Public Schools[20]
  • Laura E. Frenger, Executive, Home Service Sec. American Red Cross for eight years[20]
  • Thora B. Gardiner, secretary of the County Chapter of the American Red Cross[20]
  • Mary E. Gartin, American Red Cross[20]
  • Laura M. Geiger, on Board of Directors of American Red Cross[20]
  • Nellie A. Goodhue, on Board of Directors of Local Chapter American Red Cross[20]
  • Mabel Rainsferd Haines, supervisor for the Home Service department, Civilian Relief Department of Pacific Division of Red Cross; organized welfare department for Jackson County Red Cross (1922–23), and for Imperial Valley Chapter (1920)[20]
  • Sharlot Mabridth Hall, American Red Cross[20]
  • Wilhelmina Harper, American Red Cross Chicago[20]
  • Anne Jennings Kluegel, founder of Butte County Red Cross Chapter, one of founders of American Junior Red Cross, author of "Peace Program, Junior Red Cross, Pacific Division", co-author of American Red Cross manuals[20]
  • Helen M. Laughlin, Member of Board of Directors American Red Cross[20]
  • Marie V. Lund, active in Red Cross work[20]
  • Laura Adrienne MacDonald, member[22]
  • Adda Bradford Manker, chairwoman of Red Cross and of Municipal Section California[20]
  • Elsa S. McGinn, executive board of Co. Chapter American Red Cross[20]
  • Amanda T. MacPherson, on the Board of Seattle Chapter American Red Cross[20]
  • Elfie Asenath Mosse, director of Red Cross[20]
  • Estella Smith Mulliner, executive secretary of Red Cross, County Chapter[20]
  • Mary E. Noyes, chairwoman of local Red Cross[20]
  • Josie Adelaide Olmsted, in charge of American Red Cross activities during the WWI[20]
  • Virginia Keating Orton, member of Board of Red Cross[20]
  • Eleanor B. Parkes, active in Red Cross work[20]
  • Ardee Parsons Rochex, on Executive Board of San Mateo County Chapter American Red Cross, chairwoman of Junior Red Cross of the San Mateo County Chapter (1925–28)[20]
  • Genevieve H. Sanford, chairwoman of Red Cross Home Service Aberdeen[20]
  • Elizabeth Sargent, active in Red Cross (1917–28)[20]
  • M. Elizabeth Shellabarger, Director of Red Cross Nursing in Albania and Montenegro (1921–22)[20]
  • Anna Leila Taylor, worked among war refugees in Italy, served during late war as volunteer Red Cross nurse in a Florence Military Hospital (awarded Italian R. C. Medal)[20]
  • Nancy Ellicott Tomlinson, 3 years with Red Cross in Pacific Area, Executive Secretary, American Red Cross[20]
  • Anna Vandegrift, secretary of Red Cross Chapter[20]
  • Violet Richardson Ward, taught water safety classes[23]
  • Grace F. Watson, vice-chairwoman Tacoma Branch American Red Cross[20]
  • Anna Mary Weyerhaeuser, chairwoman American Red Cross of Tacoma land Pierce County[20]
  • Gertrude B. Wilder, secretary of the San Bernardino chapter of the American Red Cross[24]

Blood services

Blood donation

ARC supplies roughly 40% of the donated blood in the United States, which it sells to hospitals and regional suppliers.[25] Community-based blood centers supply 50% and 6% is collected directly by hospitals. In December 2004, ARC completed its 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 50 years, ARC 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, ARC 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, ARC provides more than one-quarter of the nation's plasma products. Red Cross Plasma Services provides plasma products that are reliable, cost-effective and as safe as possible.

In February 1999, ARC 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.

As of 2011, ARC was no longer in the Plasma Services industry. The Red Cross supplies Baxter BioSciences with items for the manufacturing of plasma products.[26]

Nucleic acid testing

On March 1, 1999, ARC became the first U.S. blood bank 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 has been licensed by the U.S.Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These tests 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.


Leukocytes (white blood cells) help fight off foreign substances such as bacteria, viruses, and abnormal cells. 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. Leukocytes in stored blood products can have a variety of biological effects, including depression of immune function, which can result in organ failure and death.[27] Because whole blood is rarely used for transfusion and not kept in routine inventory, leukoreduced red blood supplies are critical. After collection, the whole blood is separated into red cells and plasma by centrifugation. A preservative solution is mixed with the red cells and the component is filtered with a leukoreduction filter. The shelf life of this product is 42 days.

ARC is moving toward system-wide universal prestorage leukocyte reduction to improve patient care. From 1976 through 1985, the FDA received reports of 355 fatalities associated with transfusion, 99 of which were excluded from further review because they were unrelated to transfusion or involved hepatitis or acquired immune deficiency syndrome.[28] While the FDA has not yet made a leukoreduction a requirement, ARC took a leading role in implementing this procedure with a goal of leukoreducing all blood products. More than 70 percent of ARC red blood cell components undergo prestorage leukoreduction, a filtering process that is done soon after blood is donated.


ARC 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

ARC offers cellular therapies; this 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 to prevent illnesses from appearing.

Training Services

Training Services is one of the five divisions of the American Red Cross, responsible for providing health and safety training to the general public as well as the workforce. In fiscal year 2017 the American Red Cross trained 2.28 million people how to save lives through their First Aid, CPR or AED courses, water safety and caregiving programs. There are a wide variety of course offerings available:[29]

  • Administering Emergency Oxygen
  • Anaphylaxis and Epinephrine Auto-Injector
  • Asthma Inhaler Training
  • Babysitter’s Training
  • Basic Life Support for Healthcare Providers
  • Bloodborne Pathogens Training
  • California Child Care
  • CPR/AED for Professional Rescuers
  • Emergency Medical Response
  • First Aid/CPR/AED (English and Spanish)
  • Hands-Only CPR
  • Learn to Swim
  • Lifeguard Management
  • Lifeguarding
  • Longfellow’s WHALE Tales
  • Nurse Assistant Training
  • Responding to Emergencies
  • Safety Training for Swim Coaches
  • Tittle 22 (California First Aid for Public Safety Personnel)
  • Water Safety
  • Wilderness and Remote First Aid

In addition to basic level certifications in the above courses the American Red Cross also offers Instructor level courses and Instructor Trainer (IT) level courses. Instructor level courses are designed to teach participants how to become instructors for American Red Cross courses, whereas Instructor Trainer courses (also known as Instructor Trainer Academies) are designed to certify current instructors to become Instructor Trainers, or people who can teach Instructor level courses.

Training Services has an online store where you can purchase supplies including First Aid Kits, CPR keychains, flashlights, and emergency radios.[30]

2018 Mannequin Change

In early 2018 all courses offered by the American Red Cross switched to BigRed mannequins. The investment cost $1.8M and increased participants understanding of the purpose of compressions during CPR.

Course Offerings

There are three entities that can run American Red Cross courses; The American Red Cross, Authorized Providers, and Licensed Training Providers.[31] The American Red Cross runs many of its own courses that can be conducted on land such as First Aid/CPR/AED and Basic Life Support for Healthcare Providers. There are a number of courses that require aquatic facilities to run, such as Lifeguarding and Water Safety Instructor. These courses are generally left to Authorized Providers (colleges, government agencies, fire departments, community centers) and to Licensed Training Providers (LLC. or Inc.).

Scientific Advisory Council

The Scientific Advisory Council is a panel including over 50 medical, scientific, aquatic and academic experts from across the United States.[32]

Disaster services

FEMA - 2332 - Photograph by Robert A. Eplett taken on 01-17-1994 in California
American Red Cross providing assistance during the 1994 Northridge earthquake
An American Red Cross vehicle distributing food to Grand Forks, North Dakota victims of the 1997 Red River flood
FEMA - 58087 - Photo by George Armstrong taken on 07-09-2012 in Florida
Satellite communications after tropical storm Debby in Lake City, Florida, 2012

Each year, ARC responds to more than 70,000 disasters, including house or apartment fires (making up the majority), hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, hazardous materials spills, transportation accidents, explosions and other natural and man-made disasters.

Although ARC is not a government agency, its authority to provide disaster relief was formalized when, in 1905, it 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.

Disaster relief focuses on emergency disaster-caused needs. When a disaster threatens or strikes, ARC provides shelter, food and health and mental health services (Psychological First Aid) to address basic human needs. The core of Red Cross disaster relief is assistance to individuals and families to enable them to resume their normal daily activities. The organization provides translation and interpretation when necessary, and maintains a database of multilingual volunteers.[33]

At the local level, ARC chapters operate volunteer-staffed Disaster Action Teams.

ARC 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 a disaster to access other resources. It is a member of National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) and works closely with other agencies such as Salvation Army and Amateur Radio Emergency Service with whom it has memorandums of understanding.

ARC works to encourage preparedness by providing important literature on readiness. Many chapters also offer free classes to the general public.

A major misconception among the general public is that ARC provides medical facilities, engages in search and rescue operations or deploys ambulances. Instead, first responder roles are left to government agencies as dictated by the National Response Framework. Red Cross societies outside the U.S. may provide such 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 meals, drinks and other relief supplies. Although ARC shelters usually assign a nurse to the facility, they are not equipped to provide medical care beyond first aid.

Disaster Services Workforce

The Disaster Services Workforce (DSW) system enrolls volunteers from ARC chapters into a national database of responders, classified by their ability to serve in one or more activities within groups. Services include feeding and sheltering ("mass care") to warehousing, damage assessment, accounting, communications, public affairs and counseling. Responders complete training requirements specific to the services they want to offer, backgrounds, and first aid training.

National Response Framework

As a National Response Framework support agency, ARC shelters, feeds and provides other types of emergency relief to victims of disasters. ARC is a co-lead with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for the mass care portion of Emergency Support Function 6. ARC and FEMA share responsibility for planning and coordinating mass care services with FEMA. ARC has responsibilities for other Emergency Support Functions, such as providing health and mental health services.[34][35]

Disaster responses

Russian revolution

In July 1918 the ARC established a hospital at the entrance of Vladivostok harbor, and during the year 8 more hospitals. Vladivostok Refugee hospital was opened in early 1919 in former naval barracks and had up to 250 beds. The ARC provided drugs and medical supplies to Russian hospitals during the civil war.[36]

2005 hurricanes

FEMA - 15337 - Photograph by Andrea Booher taken on 09-10-2005 in Texas
Volunteers assist Hurricane victims at the Houston Astrodome, following Hurricane Katrina.

Forecasting a major disaster before the landfall of Hurricane Katrina, ARC enlisted 2,000 volunteers to be on a "stand by" deployment list.

According to ARC, during and after hurricanes Katrina, Wilma and Rita, they opened 1,470 shelters and registered 3. 8 million overnight stays. 300,000 Red Cross workers (82% unpaid) provided sheltering, casework, communication and assessment services throughout these events. In addition, 346,980 comfort kits (which contain hygiene essentials such as toothpaste, soap, washcloths and toys for children) and 205,360 cleanup kits (containing brooms, mops and bleach) were distributed. The organization served 68 million snacks and meals. Disaster Health services provided 596,810 contacts, and Disaster Mental Health services 826,590 contacts. Emergency financial assistance was provided to 1.4 million families, including 4 million people. Katrina was the first natural disaster in the United States that ARC utilized their "Safe and Well" family location website.[37][38]

Comair Flight 5191

Following the crash of commuter aircraft Comair Flight 5191, the Bluegrass Area Chapter and ARC Critical Response Team (CRT) members were dispatched. This was the worst air disaster in 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 and mental health services to family and friends not present in Lexington. Volunteers also staffed the local Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Lexington, Kentucky.[39]

2007 tornadoes

FEMA - 28112 - Photograph by Mark Wolfe taken on 02-06-2007 in Florida
ARC is set up in a community hard hit by the tornadoes, Florida, 2007


In response to the Central Florida Tornado of February 2007, ARC began a large scale disaster relief operation. At least seven shelters were opened. 40,000 pre-packaged meals were sent by ARC, and across the nation, almost 400 Red Cross volunteers were deployed to assist with local relief efforts. The organization deployed more than 30 Emergency Response Vehicles for community food and supply distribution.[40][41]


ARC immediately responded to the May 2007 Tornado Outbreak in central Kansas by setting up emergency shelters for displaced residents and started the distribution of food, water and relief supplies.[42]

Minneapolis bridge collapse

Following the collapse of the I-35W Mississippi River bridge, the Twin Cities Area Chapter responded with their Disaster Action Team to provide food, information and comfort. A family service center was set up, and mental health counselors deployed to numerous locations.[43] Donations contributed for this cause totaled US$138,368 and covered the cost of services[44] but not $65,000 in unexpected expenses.[45] Weather and the collapse placed 70% of Minnesota counties in federal primary or contiguous disaster areas during that August.[46]

International services

ARC, 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. ARC International Services Department focuses on global health, disaster preparedness and response, Restoring Family Links and international humanitarian law dissemination. ARC is involved with international projects such as the measles Initiative, malaria programs in Africa, disaster response and relief efforts in response to the 2004 South Asia tsunami.

Disaster preparedness and response

ARC 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. To respond quickly and effectively, ARC has pre-positioned emergency relief supplies in three warehouses managed by the International Federation in Dubai, Malaysia, and Panama that are used to respond to disasters. An Emergency Response Unit (ERU) is another method with which ARC responds to international emergencies. An ERU is made up of trained personnel and pre-packaged equipment that is crucial in responding to sudden, large-scale disasters and emergencies in remote locations. American Red Cross ERUs specialize in providing emergency relief supplies and IT and Telecommunications for Red Cross response operations.[47]


On January 12, 2010, a magnitude 7.0 Mw earthquake struck the Haitian coast 10 miles from the capital of Port-au-Prince, causing massive damage, more than 200,000 deaths and displacing nearly 2 million people.

As of March 2011, ARC announced it had allocated $314 million for Haiti earthquake relief and recovery. ARC funded recovery projects to provide transitional homes, health services, disaster preparedness, water and sanitation improvements and livelihoods development. It provided funds for school fees for affected families. As of June 2011, ARC had raised approximately $484 million for Haiti relief and recovery efforts.[48]

A series of reports by NPR and ProPublica found that much of the money Americans donated never made it to help people in Haiti and promises to rebuild neighborhoods were never met.[49][50]

Global health

ARC International Services global health initiatives focus on preventing and combating infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and measles on a large scale. Through cost-effective, community-based health interventions, ARC targets 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 ARC International Services health programming is the Measles Initiative, launched in 2001, as a partnership committed to reducing measles deaths globally. The initiative provides technical and financial support to governments and communities on vaccination campaigns and disease surveillance worldwide. Leading these efforts are ARC, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United Nations Foundation, UNICEF and the World Health Organization. The Measles Initiative has supported vaccination campaigns in more than 60 countries, mostly in Africa and Asia. Since 2001, the initiative has helped vaccinate one billion children in more than 60 developing countries.[51] The initiative supported the distribution of more than 37 million insecticide-treated mosquito nets for malaria prevention, 81 million doses of de-worming medicine, 95 million doses of polio vaccine, and 186 million doses of Vitamin A.

In December 2006, ARC became a founding partner of the Malaria No More campaign. The campaign 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. ARC supported local Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers in Africa who educated families and communities about malaria prevention and treatment, such as the proper and consistent use of insecticide-treated bed nets. ARC provided technical assistance and capacity-building support to its partners in difficult-to-reach communities.

International tracing requests

ARC handles international tracing requests and searches for families who have been separated. This service attempts to re-establish contact between separated family members. Restoring Family Links services 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, ARC Restoring Family Links program is handling the aftermath of 20–30 wars and conflicts. The worldwide 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 former Soviet Union archives became available in the 1990s, a special unit was created to handle World War II and Holocaust tracing services.

International humanitarian law

ARC International Services educates 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, ARC International Services provides support to ARC chapters in their IHL dissemination efforts, offering courses and providing instructor training.

Service to the Armed Forces

A World War II-era poster encouraged American women to volunteer for the Red Cross as part of the war effort.

ARC 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). ARC can also act as a verifying agency.[52] The agency operates call centers to provide these services.[53] ARC works closely with other military societies, such as the Department of Veterans Affairs, to provide other services to service members and their families. ARC is not involved with prisoners of war; these are monitored by the International Committee of the Red Cross, an international body.

Carney Airfield, Solomon Islands, Red Cross girl. August 1944
Carney Airfield, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands Red Cross girl, August 1944

One criticism of Red Cross services to the military stems from stories about ARC charging troops during the Second World War and Korean War token fees for "comfort items" such as toothpaste, coffee, donuts, and cigarettes and for off-base food and lodging. The fee 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 ARC. The suggestion was that Allied soldiers were being charged money so Americans should be charged too so as to "ensure an equitable distribution among all service personnel of Red Cross resources".[54] The Red Cross adopted the Secretary's suggestion as policy.[55]

During World War II, ARC operated the American Red Cross Clubmobile Service to provide servicemen with food, entertainment and "a connection home." In a June 18, 1945, address to Congress, General Dwight D. Eisenhower said of the Red Cross service in World War II, "The Red Cross, with its clubs for recreation, its coffee and doughnuts in the forward areas, its readiness to meet the needs of the well and to help minister to the wounded has often seemed the friendly hand of this nation, reaching across the sea to sustain its fighting men."[56] An account of one World War II American Red Cross Girl is recorded in Destination Unknown by Kathleen Cox; her mother, LeOna Cox, was recruited to Red Cross Service by a fellow teacher at Allegheny College.[57] Another account of an American Red Cross World War II worker is related in letters by Evelyn Merritt Welden, compiled in the book How to Play During a War: A Free Spirit's Life in Letters, by her son, Lynne Whelden.

Great Lakes Naval Hospital 1966 - American Red Cross - Jennie Frankel and Terrie Frankel perform for wounded soldiers.jpeg
Great Lakes Naval Hospital 1966, Jennie and Terrie Frankel perform for wounded soldiers. The frequent visits by the early Doublemint Twins were arranged through the American National Red Cross (see Red Cross letters of thanks to twins, posted on Wikimedia Commons).
Great Lakes Naval Hospital - American Red Cross October 24, 1966 Letter of thanks to Jennie and Terrie Frankel for entertaining wounded servicemen
Great Lakes Naval Hospital – American Red Cross October 24, 1966 Letter of thanks to Jennie and Terrie Frankel for entertaining wounded servicemen

During the Vietnam War 627 American women served in the ARC Supplemental Recreation Overseas Program. At the invitation of the United States Army the "Donut Dollies" provided morale-boosting games to soldiers. Due to the mobility of the UH-1 Iroquois, Vietnam Donut Dollies were able to visit troops in forwarding operating positions. The 2008 documentary film A Touch of Home: The Vietnam War's Red Cross Girls tells the story of these women. ARC also provided services to entertain wounded soldiers at the Great Lakes Naval Hospital during the Vietnam War.

In 2011, the Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) unit was reorganized and began receiving $24 million per year from Congress for operating expenses. Along with being downsized there was a consolidation into four regional locations (San Diego, CA, Ft. Sill, OK, Louisville, KY, and Springfield, MA). In 2012 the first stories began breaking about long call times and the poor quality of response from call takers.[58][59] along with questions about whether money was being used appropriately.[60] In 2015, the San Diego and Springfield locations were closed because an online option for families was implemented.[61]


Johnson & Johnson suit over Red Cross image

Flag of the Red Cross
The red cross flag. The American Red Cross flag logo.

On August 7, 2007,[62] Johnson & Johnson (J&J) filed suit against ARC over its sublicensing of the Red Cross image for the production of first aid kits and similar products, which it alleged competed with the company's products. The suit also asked for the destruction of all non-Johnson & Johnson Red Cross Emblem bearing products and demanded that ARC pay punitive damages and J&J's legal fees.

The Red Cross' position was that it had licensed its name to first aid kit makers in an effort to encourage readiness for disasters and that license revenues supported humanitarian work.[63] J&J claimed that the Red Cross's commercial ventures were outside the scope of historically well-agreed usage and were in direct violation of federal statutes.[64]

On May 14, 2008, a federal judge ruled against J&J.[65] In June 2008, the two organizations announced a settlement had been reached allowing both parties to use the symbol.[66]

Court ordered consent decree

The FDA took court action against ARC in response to deficiencies in their procedures for ensuring blood supply safety. The resulting consent decree outlines violations of federal law that ARC engaged in before 1993.[67] ARC paid millions of dollars in fines.

ARC Biomedical Services instituted a standardized computer system to maintain the blood donor database; five National Testing Laboratories (NTLs) that test some six million units of blood annually;[68] the Charles Drew Biomedical Institute, which provides training and other educational resources to Red Cross Blood Services' personnel; a Quality Assurance/Regulatory Affairs Department, which helps to ensure regulatory compliance; and, a centrally managed blood inventory system.

The Consent Decree was amended in 2003 with penalties for specific violations.

The FDA could 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 the preventable release of each unit of blood for which the FDA finds a reasonable probability of serious adverse health consequences
    • $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 FDA continued to apply pressure and fines to ARC in order to enforce compliance with regulations, including a $1.7 million fine in June 2008.[69]

ARC worked closely with the FDA to develop a more robust system. The systems resulted in a five-year period of sustained compliance that led to the release from the Consent Decree as of December 4, 2015.[70]

Blood donation controversy

ARC faced criticism from lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) advocacy organizations for prohibiting men who have sex with men (MSM) from donating blood. This policy was an FDA requirement for all blood collection companies and organizations in the United States. Specifically, the FDA instructs blood collection organizations to "defer for 12 months from the most recent sexual contact, a man who has had sex with another man during the past 12 months".[71] Consequently, ARC was legally unable to collect blood from such men. In 2006, along with the AABB and America's Blood Centers, ARC petitioned the FDA to remove the requirement from blood donations, citing better screening technologies.[72][73] As of December 2016, the American Red Cross reports on its website that its deferral of MSM from donating blood for 12 months after any sexual contact with another man is aligned with the guidance issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.[74]

Hurricane Katrina controversy

In March 2006, investigations of allegations of fraud and theft by volunteers and contractors within ARC Katrina operations were launched by the Louisiana Attorney-General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).[75] In response, ARC increased its internal and external education of the organization's fraud and a waste hotline for confidential reporting to a third party agency. The organization also elected to implement a background check policy for all volunteers and staff, starting in 2006.[76]

In April 2006, an unnamed former ARC official leaked reports made by the International Committee of the Red Cross and the British Red Cross. Such reports are typical of 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 ARC operations in Katrina-affected regions, although the British Red Cross report strongly praised ARC volunteers for their efforts.

Storms controversy (Hurricane Sandy, Isaac, other major storms)

In October 2014, independent public interest news broadcasters NPR and ProPublica published investigative reports on the Red Cross's handling of US East Coast Hurricanes Sandy and Isaac, citing internal Red Cross documents and interviews with former Red Cross and government officials. It criticized the organization's response in failing to meet the immediate needs of victims. It also described "an organization so consumed with public relations that it hindered the charity's ability to provide disaster services."[77][78][79]

See also


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Further reading

  • Dulles, Foster Rhea. The American Red Cross: A History. New York: Harper and Brothers.
  • Irwin, Julia. Making the World Safe: The American Red Cross and a Nation's Humanitarian Awakening. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.
  • Irwin, Julia F., "Teaching 'Americanism with a World Perspective': The Junior Red Cross in the U.S. Schools from 1917 to the 1920s". History of Education Quarterly 53 (Aug. 2013), 255–79.
  • Jones, Marian Moser. The American Red Cross From Clara Barton to the New Deal. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press; 2013.
  • Whelden, Lynne Merritt. How to Play During a War: A Free Spirit's Life in Letters. Canton, PA: Lynne Whelden Productions; 2007.

External links

1917 U.S. National Championships – Men's Singles

Robert Lindley Murray defeated Nathaniel W. Niles 5–7, 8–6, 6–3, 6–3 in the final to win the Men's Singles tennis title at the 1917 U.S. National Championships. The event was held at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, New York. The tournament was renamed National Patriotic Tournament in support of the war effort. No trophies were handed out to the winners and the entrance fees were dedicated to the American Red Cross.

2008 Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500

The 2008 Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500, the twenty-first race of the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup season and was held on August 3 of that year at Pocono Raceway in the village of Long Pond, Pennsylvania. ESPN carried the race beginning at 1 PM US EDT and MRN along with Sirius Satellite Radio had radio coverage of the 500 miles (800 km) race starting at 1:15 PM US EDT. The race was sponsored by Sunoco through its official NASCAR gasoline sponsorship and will benefit the American Red Cross Southeastern Pennsylvania chapter (covering Philadelphia and the surrounding five-county region), and marked the first time since 1996 that a race at the 2.5 miles (4.0 km) track has had a corporate sponsor.

Abdominal thrusts

Abdominal thrusts (also called the Heimlich maneuver or Heimlich manoeuvre, German pronunciation: [ˈhaɪmlɪç -]) is a first aid procedure used to treat upper airway obstructions (or choking) by foreign objects. The term Heimlich maneuver is named after Dr. Henry Heimlich, who first described it in 1974.

Performing abdominal thrusts involves a rescuer standing behind a patient and using his or her hands to exert pressure on the bottom of the diaphragm. This compresses the lungs and exerts pressure on any object lodged in the trachea, hopefully expelling it.

Most modern protocols, including those of the American Heart Association, American Red Cross and the European Resuscitation Council, recommend several stages for airway obstructions, designed to apply increasingly more pressure. Most protocols recommend encouraging the victim to cough, followed by hard back slaps, and finally abdominal thrusts or chest thrusts as a last resort. Some guidelines also recommend alternating between abdominal thrusts and back slaps.

Bernadine Healy

Bernadine Patricia Healy (August 4, 1944 – August 6, 2011) was an American physician, cardiologist, academic, and first female National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director. She was a professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University, chair of the Research Division of Cleveland Clinic, professor and dean of the College of Medicine and Public Health at the Ohio State University, and served as president of the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association. She was health editor and columnist for U.S. News & World Report. She was a well-known commentator in the media on health issues.

CD Universe

CD is an e-commerce site that sells music CDs, mp3 downloads, movies, and video games worldwide. CD Universe also offers a wide selection of miscellaneous items such as stuffed animals, jigsaw puzzles, board games, etc.

Clara Barton

Clarissa "Clara" Harlowe Barton (December 25, 1821 – April 12, 1912) was a pioneering nurse who founded the American Red Cross. She was a hospital nurse in the American Civil War, a teacher, and patent clerk. Nursing education was not very formalized at that time and she did not attend nursing school, so she provided self-taught nursing care. Barton is noteworthy for doing humanitarian work at a time when relatively few women worked outside the home. She was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1973.

Clara Barton National Historic Site

The Clara Barton National Historic Site, which includes the Clara Barton House, was established in 1974 to interpret the life of Clara Barton (1821–1912), an American pioneer teacher, nurse, and humanitarian who was the founder of the American Red Cross. The site is located 2 miles (3.2 km) northwest of Washington D.C. in Glen Echo, Maryland. This site is currently closed to the public.

The United States National Historic Site protects 9 acres (0.04 km²) of land at her Glen Echo home including the 38-room former residence of Barton. The site is managed by the George Washington Memorial Parkway. 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 (1897-1912), 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 Clara Barton's bedroom. Visitors to Clara Barton National Historic Site can gain a sense of how 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 Barton's use of her unusual home. In 2005, 12,529 visitors toured the site.

Conyers Read

Conyers Read (April 25, 1881 – December 24, 1959) was an American historian who specialized in the History of England in the 15th and 16th centuries. A professor of history at the universities of Chicago and Pennsylvania, he was president of the American Historical Association for the year 1949–1950.

In World War I Read served with the American Red Cross and in World War II he joined the Office of Strategic Services.

Dick Kazmaier

Richard William Kazmaier Jr. (November 23, 1930 – August 1, 2013) was an American football player for Princeton University from 1949 through 1951 and winner of the 1951 Heisman Trophy.

Elizabeth Dole

Mary Elizabeth "Liddy" Alexander Hanford Dole (born July 29, 1936) is an American politician and author who served in the Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush presidential administrations, as well as in the United States Senate.

A graduate of Duke University and Harvard Law School, Dole served as Secretary of Transportation under Ronald Reagan and Secretary of Labor under George H. W. Bush before becoming head of the American Red Cross. She next served as North Carolina's first female U.S. Senator (2003–09). She is a member of the Republican Party and former chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. She was married to former U.S. Senate Majority Leader, 1976 Republican vice-presidential nominee and 1996 Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole.

Ethel Roosevelt Derby

Ethel Carow Roosevelt Derby (August 13, 1891 – December 10, 1977) was the youngest daughter and fourth child of the President of the United States Theodore Roosevelt. Known as The Queen of Oyster Bay and The First Lady of Oyster Bay by its Long Island residents, Ethel was instrumental in preserving both the legacy of her father as well as the family home, "Sagamore Hill" for future generations, especially after the death of her mother, Edith, in 1948.

Jane Delano

Jane Arminda Delano, born March 13, 1862 in Montour Falls, New York – died April 15, 1919 in Savenay, Loire-Atlantique, France, was a nurse and founder of the American Red Cross Nursing Service.

Jerome H. Holland

Jerome Heartwell "Brud" Holland (January 9, 1916 – January 13, 1985), one of 13 children, was an American university president and diplomat. He was the first African American to play football at Cornell University, and was chosen as an All American in 1937 and 1938. He was also the first African American to chair the American Red Cross Board of Governors, which named its Laboratory for the Biomedical Sciences in his honor. He was the first African-American to sit on the board of the New York Stock Exchange (1972), and the first appointed to Massachusetts Institute of Technology's governing body, "The Corporation". After graduating Cornell and teaching at Lincoln University, he attended the University of Pennsylvania, receiving his PhD in 1950. In 1953, he became president of the historically black Delaware State College, serving six years before transitioning to the Hampton Institute, where he was president from 1960 to 1970. In that year, he became ambassador to Sweden under President Richard Nixon.

He became a member of the College Football Hall of Fame in 1965. In 1972, the NCAA awarded Holland its Theodore Roosevelt Award.His son, Joe Holland, one of ten children, also played for Cornell. He was selected as a third team All-American running back by the Associated Press for the 1978 College Football All-America Team, and as a graduate student with a 3.70 GPA, the same year, as an Academic All American. In 1991, he became a member of the Academic Hall of Fame. An attorney, playwright and entrepreneur, Joe Holland is a Republican, as was his father. He filed as a candidate for Governor of New York in the 2018 election.

Jesse H. Jones

Jesse Holman Jones (April 5, 1874 – June 1, 1956) was a Democratic politician and entrepreneur from Houston, Texas. He served as United States Secretary of Commerce from 1940 to 1945.

Jones managed a Tennessee tobacco factory at age fourteen, and at nineteen, he was put in charge of his uncle's lumberyards. Five years later, after his uncle, M. T. Jones, died, Jones moved to Houston to manage his uncle's estate and opened a lumberyard company, which grew quickly. During this period, Jesse opened his own business, the South Texas Lumber Company. He also began to expand into real estate, commercial building, and banking. His commercial building activities in Houston included mid-rise and skyscraper office buildings, hotels and apartments, and movie theaters. He constructed the Foster Building, home to the Houston Chronicle, in exchange for a fifty percent share in the newspaper, which he acquired control of in 1926.

Jones's participation in civic life and politics began with the Port of Houston and the Houston Ship Channel. He led a group of local bankers in buying public finance bonds and was later appointed to serve as the Chair of the Houston Harbor Board. He led a local fundraising effort on behalf of the American Red Cross in support of servicemen in World War I. President Wilson tapped Jones to head a division of American Red Cross, a duty he fulfilled between 1917 and 1919. In 1928, he initiated and organized Houston's bid for the 1928 Democratic National Convention.

His most important role was on the board of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC), (1932–1939), a federal agency originally created in the Herbert Hoover administration that played a major role in combating the Great Depression and financing industrial expansion during World War II. President Roosevelt elevated Jones to the Chairmanship of the RFC in 1933. Jones was in charge of spending US$50 billion, especially in financing railways and building munitions factories. He served as the United States Secretary of Commerce from 1940–1945, a post he held concurrently with his chairmanship of the RFC. After leaving Washington, Jesse and Mary Jones focused on philanthropy, working through the Houston Endowment, a non-profit corporation they founded in 1937.

John Barton Payne

John Barton Payne (January 26, 1855 – January 24, 1935) was an American politician, lawyer and judge. He served as the United States Secretary of the Interior from 1920 until 1921 under Woodrow Wilson's administration.

Larry Liston

Larry Liston (born 1952) is a Colorado legislator. A Republican, Liston first served in the Colorado House of Representatives, representing House District 16 from January 2005 to January 2013. Elected to the same house seat in the 2016 general election, Liston was sworn in again in January, 2017.

Mark Everson

Mark Whitty Everson (born September 10, 1954) is an American politician who is currently the Vice Chairman of alliantgroup and served as the 46th Commissioner of Internal Revenue from 2003 until 2007. Prior to his appointment as Commissioner of the IRS, Everson held a number of federal government positions in the administrations of George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, as well as at the state level within the administration of Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels.

In August 2009, Everson joined alliantgroup, LP, a national tax advisory consultant, to advise the firm and its clients on matters related to the IRS and on strategic, operational, and client service initiatives. Everson was a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, until he withdrew his candidacy on November 5, 2015.

National Red Cross Pageant

The National Red Cross Pageant (1917) was an American war pageant that was performed in order to sell war bonds, support the National Red Cross, and promote a positive opinion about American involvement in World War I. This pageant was a production put on in support of funding for America's participation in World War I, also known as the Great War. It was also an all-star revue silent film, now considered a lost film, directed by Christy Cabanne.

Victoria Joyce Ely

Victoria Joyce Ely (September 12, 1889 – May 12, 1979) was an American nurse who served in World War I in the Army Nurse Corps and then provided nursing services in the Florida Panhandle in affiliation with the American Red Cross. To address the high infant and maternal death rates in Florida in the 1920s, she lectured and worked at the state health office. Due to her work, training improved for birth attendants and death rates dropped. After 15 years in the state's service, she opened a rural health clinic in Ruskin, Florida, providing both basic nursing services and midwife care. The facility was renamed the Joyce Ely Health Center in her honor in 1954. In 1983, she was inducted into Florida Public Health Association's Hall of Memory and in 2002 was inducted into the Florida Women's Hall of Fame.

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