Sunday, June 8, 2014

The American Red Cross

Tampa Bay Chapter and Florida's West Coast 
Chairman of the Board.American Red Cross
Greg Morgan Presents

 June 6, 2014


“Good Morning to all the volunteers and friends of the American Red Cross. The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.” My brother began. He was addressing supporters of the American Red Cross as he is serving in the second year of his two year term as chapter chairman. Greg is a remarkable human being and an inspirational leader. His boilerplate opening yielded to insight into his character. 

“I want to thank my mom today – We grew up on Lake Erie and my mom wanted to be sure that every one of her 6 kids knew how to swim.  In the summertime we woke up at 7:00 AM and were carted down the street to Lakewood Park swimming pool for swimming lessons.  Now the fact that there was a 60 foot cliff in our backyard apparently made no difference (as if we would survive the fall before gracefully landing in the lake to take advantage of these swimming lessons.” Greg’s audience is amused as he continues. “Well never the less, we learned to swim.  Now that didn’t mean simply learning a stroke or two.  We learned to swim from Beginners through to Life Saving. So at 13, 14 and 15 years old, I learned CPR as part of Jr Life Saving and Life Saving Classes. Even at this young age I knew for sure that I would use this training one day.” With this Greg sets the stage for a one-two punch his audience doesn’t know is coming.

“So about 20 years ago in January of 1993 I had just started a new job responsible for two office buildings on Rocky Point Island.  One of those buildings was named Island Center where Fireman’s Fund had a large local office. While glancing at emails with my administrative assistant and eating a turkey sandwich for lunch, her hand held radio in her desk announced ‘shots fired, victims are down in the café, send help!’ After calling down to the café and clarifying that the gunman had left and set his gun on the table, the assistant property manager and I ran down 5 flights of stairs and arrived on the scene. Paul Calden, a lone gunman, had returned to the workplace where he had been fired 8 months prior by Firemans Fund. Five bodies lie in pools of blood. Shattered glass from the giant floor to ceiling window was everywhere while screaming, crying people stood in horror. One man began yelling ‘does anyone know CPR?’ It was natural, almost instinctive for me, from my childhood training, to kneel down beside the man, listen for breathing, check the pulse, and begin performing mouth to mouth resuscitation. After a few breaths the victim, Frank Ditullio came back but only for a brief time. A quiet peace came over him, he smiled and passed away. Though a horrible tragedy, I was able to report to Frank’s wife, Mary Lynn, that Frank had died very peacefully in my arms with a smile on his face. His wife asked that I speak at his funeral service. I did. I was, however, troubled by Frank’s death for months afterwards.”

Greg reads the audience as they try to comprehend such circumstances. He pauses briefly and continues:

“So fast forward 10 years…

My sons and I are in the middle of a two week vacation out west. We are spending the day at a gigantic spring fed pool in Glenwood Springs Colorado. Hundreds of people are swimming, playing, sliding and enjoying the day.

As my boys and I exit the pool area we see several people jumping and screaming for help. We walk toward the area where a man is yelling ‘Help, please Help us! Where are you? Please Help!’ As I approached another man stood up in the pool with a young child limp in his arms. Jordan LaSalle, a 5 year old boy from Golden Colorado laid lifeless, blue grey, the same color I remembered Frank Ditullio ten years earlier. There was no pulse, no breath. Once again, I began CPR. After 5 or 6 breaths, nothing. I decided to blow harder. Jordan coughed and coughed then began to cry and cry. Jordan’s mom yelled ‘don’t cry Jordan!’ I said ‘cry Jordan cry! Breathe Jordan breathe!’ He did, and this time around he kept breathing and kept breathing. Jordan’s mom cradled him and the paramedics arrived and drove Jordan to the hospital. Several hours later, my kids and I went to the hospital to give Jordan a big red plastic fire truck. He was up, clearly healthy and having fun. The doctor reported to me that it appeared that Jordan had no permanent damage and should be fine.

So a while back I checked Facebook for Jordan LaSalle and there he was with a Denver Bronco Tim Tebow Jersey on.

So thanks mom for having us learn what we learned and giving me the tools with the help of the American Red Cross, to save a life that day and also giving me a gift that I can never repay.”

Sensational. The Tampa volunteers and supporters of the American Red Cross are inspired and we are all humbled by the fragility of life itself. Thanks for being you, Greg. 



3 comments:

  1. Thanks brother Wes, for the reminder of how blessed we were to be raised by two wonderful, loving parents with a great moral compass, in our case, Catholicism. Their memory will live inside us for as long as we live!

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  3. 99% Greg's content. I just filled in the blanks for the sake of storytelling. It is Greg who offered the tribute to mom (On the 70th anniversary of D-Day an important event of our parents, who are part of the Greatest Generation).

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