An online portfolio of my published articles.

Super R.C.: The Story Behind the Supermanitarian

With the recent tornadoes, storms, and power outages in our region, it has been a very busy year for Super RC. The Xenia-born supermanitarian has dedicated his life to spreading the message of preparedness throughout the world. Recently, Super RC took some time out of his hectic schedule to chat with the Greater Cincinnati-Dayton Red Cross about life, preparedness, and what it means to Be Red Cross Ready.

Greater Cincinnati-Dayton Red Cross: Hi Super RC, how’s it going?

Super RC: It’s going great. I’m gearing up for a really great preparedness campaign with you guys. You know how passionate I am about preparedness and I’m very excited about all things you guys have planned to continue to push the message of preparedness.

GCDRC: Well, we will try to make this short and sweet…What is that enticed you to become involved with the Red Cross’s Preparedness campaign?
I have always admired the Red Cross’s commitment to community relief in all forms. But I’m especially dedicated to the their mission to provide proactive community disaster relief through preparedness education and campaigns. One of the reasons that natural disasters have such a devastating effect when they hit a community is that they are so unexpected that they can catch you off guard. I know that feeling; I have been there before. Being prepared for disasters will not necessarily eliminate that element of surprise, but it will help you to deal with a disaster when it comes. It’s like studying for a science test before you take it; you will always do better the more you know about what could be coming your way and the more you prepare for it.

GCDRC: What have you been up to lately?

SRC: Well, we have had a very busy year when it comes to local disasters. The weather has been so strange this year, so it has been interesting. We have had a lot of tornados, severe storms, fires, and power outages, so I have dedicated a lot of time to helping out people affected by these in the local area. You guys have been really great about getting help to those who need it during these disasters and I just help in any way that I can. I also have continued to my preparedness education efforts in the local community.

GCDRC: People say that you have perfect “disaster sense.” What does that mean and when did you discover this unique quality?

SRC:[laughs] I don’t know when that started, but it’s something that I have heard since I was a child. I think it means that I seem to always be ready for disaster to strike at any minute. I think because of this people think that I must have some sort of sixth sense that tells me when a disaster will strike. I will not comment on whether that is true or not [smiles and winks], but I will say that it does not take a superhero to be ready for disaster. Anyone can prepare for disaster in three simple steps: prepare a kit, make a plan, and be informed. That is the purpose of this entire campaign.

GCDRC: So, you won’t confirm or deny whether you have this “sixth sense?”
[smiles] The only thing that I will confirm is that anyone can prepare for disaster by preparing a kit, making a plan, and being informed.

GCDRC: Ok, so let’s move on…tell us a little more about the three steps to preparedness.
Basically, the Red Cross has made it very easy for people to make sure that they are ready for any potential disaster. First you need to prepare a kit. This kit will have basic supplies you and your household might need in case  a disaster strikes. It includes basic necessities such as water, non-perishable food, a radio, and a first aid kit. Second, every household should have a plan that they have prepared ahead of time. This plan should be thoroughly prepared and discussed with all member of the household so that everyone knows what they should do in the event of an emergency. Finally, you should make sure that you are informed. You should be aware of the types of disasters likely to occur in your area, how local authorities will communicate with you during a disaster, and what actions you should take to protect yourself. Three basic actions that can make a huge difference.

GCDRC: Awesome. It has been great talking with you Super RC…any last words for our Red Crossers?
  Yes. Remember, you don’t have to be a superhero to be super prepared. Big or Small, you can Prepare for it all J

via http://cinciredcross.wordpress.com/2012/08/17/super-r-c-the-story-behind-the-supermanitarian/

“Hocus Pocus” and Halloween Safety

By Cincinnati Region of the American Red Cross

By Avainte Saunders

When I was younger, one of my favorite Halloween movies was Hocus Pocus. In fact, though I am older and my tastes have become more refined, I still have a special place in my heart for that movie.

If you have never seen the movie (you really should because it is a cinematic masterpiece and absolutely hysterical), here is a short synopsis: The movie is set in Salem, Massachusetts (of course) and focuses on the legend of the Sanderson sisters, three witches in the 17th century who were obsessed with remaining young. When the townspeople of Salem capture the sisters and sentence them to death, they put a curse on the town that on the night of a full moon a virgin will awaken them and they will take the life-force of every child in Salem.  Fast forward three hundred years, and a young kid from LA does just that. He awakens the Sanderson sisters out of youthful arrogance and they are brought back from the dead, in search of the life forces of innocent Salem children.

Riveting stuff, right? Well, as a child I thought it was the greatest thing ever and I made sure I watched it every Halloween. One of the great things aboutHocus Pocus is that when the Sanderson sisters are brought into the 20thcentury, they look at Halloween through very different eyes than we do. They were initially perplexed by all the costumed children and adults and thought of them as the real things (this was especially humorous when they encounter a man dressed as the devil and his wife with snake-like curlers in her hair).

As the Sanderson sisters were brand new to Halloween, they did not know to take the precautions necessary to have a safe, fun time (although I’m not entirely sure that they would have cared).  Today is Halloween and it’s important that, unlike the Sanderson sisters, we make sure we are fully prepared for everything that Halloween night can bring.

Remember these safety tips to keep you and your family as safe as possible on All Hallows Eve:

  • Map out your route that you plan to follow as you roam the neighborhood.
  • Have a flashlight or glow stick with you when you go out.
  • Use face paint instead of a mask.
  • Never enter the house of a stranger when out on Halloween.
  • Wear light-colored clothing so that you can be seen in the dark.
  • Walk on the sidewalks and look both ways before crossing the street.
  • Use a glow stick instead of a candle in your jack-o-lantern.
  • Most costume attire is flammable, so make sure you avoid open flames.
  • Remain visible to drivers and do not hide between parked cars.
  • Only visit homes that have their lights on.
  • Be cautious of strange animals, especially dogs.

Many of us love to go out on Halloween, whether we are trick-or-treating or going to a Halloween party. Even though Halloween is not brand new to us like it was the Sanderson sisters, we still should follow safety common sense to make sure that this frightful night doesn’t turn into a frightening nightmare!

via “Hocus Pocus” and Halloween Safety.

Ghosts, Monsters, and the Importance of Preparedness.

Hey bloggers!  This month we thought we would do something a little fun and different for our followers.  As you know, the month of October is recognized as the spookiest month of the year.  A time to turn your home into your own version of a haunted house, eat as much candy wish and enjoy every classic scary movie ever made.  Thinking of these traditions and combining them with our mission of preparedness our Communications Team had a “What If” moment. So, with no further ado, please enjoy the following post by Red Cross Volunteer, Avainte Saunders.
By Avainte Saunders
Every October, the movie industry pushes out numerous thrillers and horror flicks in an attempt to scare moviegoers. After all, it is the month of Halloween, the time of year when all kinds of things of the paranormal variety can occur. I love this time of year because I love scary movies. Well, let me rephrase that. I love the idea of scary movies. Let me explain.
In general, I tend to be a very curious person. I am the person that will strain my neck to look at the car a cop has pulled over on the side of the road. I am the person that will obsessively read a book to the very end because I NEED to know what happens in the end, even if I have to stay up literally all night to do it (this was particularly grueling task when I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows  from 11pm until 10 AM the next morning). I’m the person who will look at Dexter spoilers before the shows have even aired because I NEED to know what happens next. I’m that person.
So it should come as no surprise that the trailers for scary movies have a mesmerizing affect on me. No matter how silly a horror film looks based on the trailer, I will always want to know the ending of it. This would be great for someone who can watch a movie like Paranormal Activity, enjoy the frightening parts in the theatre, go home, and sleep soundly in their bed, without a care in the world. That is awesome.
I am not that way. When it comes to scary movies, I am a big, blubbering baby. When I see a scary movie, no matter how ridiculous and impossible, it sticks in my mind for days, sometimes weeks. I once convinced myself after watchingThe Ring that since I had technically watched the video while watching the movie, I only had seven days to live. So for the next seven days, I would monitor all TVs around me. This was particularly difficult because at the time I was working at a place where there was always a TV somewhere around me. It didn’t matter that I didn’t get a phone call with someone saying, “seven days” in a creepy voice.  I was convinced that I would see a creepy ghost girl crawling out of my TV in seven days. I guess I don’t have to tell you that of course I was not dead in seven days; I was completely fine and healthy. But this happens every single time I watch a horror flick. I inevitably convince myself that I will meet the same horrible death as the characters in the movie.
Sometimes, when I’m really bored, I try to think if anything I have learned in life (for example things I have learned while volunteering at the Red Cross) would keep me safe if I were in a scary movie. For example, I think I could definitely survive a movie like Cloverfield. If a giant, violent monster were to attack my city, I know the first thing I would need is to prepare a kit with food, water, flashlights, batteries, radio, etc. I also know that I should make a plan in the event that Jason or Michael Myers terrorize my neighborhood. Being informed about how to detect a zombie and what I should do in the event of a zombie apocalypse will also keep me safe in the event that I wake up in 28 Days Later.
Because of my knowledge of sheltering-in-place, I know how to protect myself in the event of a War of the Worlds. I know that general home alone safety dictates that I ensure my windows and doors are securely locked (although in the case of movies like Psycho and The Strangers I’m not sure that would actually protect me).
The point I am trying to make is that many horror characters would have been safe and alive had they had some basic preparedness knowledge and taken basic steps to prepare themselves. So when I am lying awake in my bed after seeing Paranormal Activity 3, I can ease my troubled mind with the knowledge that being Red Cross Ready will keep me safe.  🙂
DISCLAIMER: The Red Cross does not guarantee the effectiveness of preparedness in the event of alien invasions, evil ghost encounters, psychotic killers, vampire attacks, zombie apocalypse, etc.

Tips help prepare students for finals

By Avainte Saunders

Published: Monday, November 27, 2006

Updated: Friday, June 15, 2012 22:06

With finals only a week away, students might be looking for ways to get the most out of their studying. While some students have developed a proven method for studying for exams, others are still searching for the best way to prepare for finals.

Bruce Tuckman, a professor of education and director of the Walter E. Dennis Learning Center, said there are a few basic things students can do to enhance their study sessions.

First, Tuckman said students should avoid procrastination when studying for exams.

“Students don’t start soon enough,” Tuckman said. “That’s the biggest mistake. It’s better to start in advance because you can’t cram a whole lot of information into your head and have it stay there if you try to do it at the last minute.”

Kelly Price, tutoring program coordinator for the Office of Minority Affairs, said she agreed procrastination is a major problem for students.

“Procrastinating and then cramming is ineffective for long-term recall of what has been learned in class,” Price said. “It is also very ineffective; imagine spending all that time right before a midterm to memorize all of the material for that particular test, only to immediately forget most of it once the test is over.”

Tuckman said he suggests students form study groups with other students in the class.

“In study groups, students can divide up the tasks and reinforce one another,” Tuckman said. “They can each have a responsibility and they can re-teach the material to others in the group. It also makes it harder to stop and do something else when everyone else in the group is studying.”

Kierstin Montano, a senior in psychology, said she studies better alone.

“I tend to waste time when I study with other people,” she said. “Or I don’t study the same way they do, so it doesn’t work.”

Tuckman said students should find an appropriate study environment.

“I think the best environment is somewhere where it’s quiet,” he said. “A lot of people try to watch TV and study at the same time and it just doesn’t work.”

For students who might have trouble remembering material, Tuckman said they should try to make outlines.

“Make an outline of the material that’s going to be covered on the exam,” Tuckman said. “Then, make an outline of the outline. And then make an outline of the outline of the outline. Each time you do that, try to condense the material more so you’ll still be able to recognize it, but the piece of the material will not be that long.”

Students who need extra help studying for exams have several options available to them on campus, Price said.

“(OMA offers) specific review sessions throughout the quarter and during finals week to assist students with studying for finals,” Price said. “We also have study skills handouts and additional online resources available on our webpage.”

Price also said students get help from their professors.

“Professors and TAs are another excellent resource because they can help students to understand any mistakes they’ve made on previous tests and help students formulate strategies for future exams,” Price said. “OSU departments and/or professors may also offer practice tests online for students to utilize as tools.”

Montano said students who have trouble studying for exams should “try to get study guides from your professors and take good notes in class.”

Tuckman said the main thing is students should be confident in their knowledge of the material.

“People who do the worst on exams, other than people who don’t study, are people who become so anxious about the test that they are unable to remember things,” he said. “One of the big factors in reducing test anxiety is going in there with a feeling that you really know the material.”

via Tips help prepare students for finals – Campus – The Lantern – Ohio State University.

Unique dance ensemble to perform at Wexner Center

By Avainte Saunders

Published: Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Updated: Saturday, June 16, 2012 02:06

Starting today, Ohio State students will have the opportunity to experience a one-of-a-kind dance performance.

Compagnie TchéTché, an all-female dance ensemble from Abidjan, Ivory Coast, will be performing their award-winning work “Dimi” at the Wexner Performance Space on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Erik Pepple, the media relations coordinator for the Wexner Center, said this kind of African dance ensemble is a rarity.

“The unique thing about TchéTché is that they are an all-female ensemble and their work is a compelling effort to dispel and eliminate the idea of women being subservient to men,” Pepple said in an e-mail. “In addition, their live performances feature live musical accompaniment and dynamic dancing – it’s sure to be a very powerful experience for those who attend.”

On Wednesday, the creator of TchéTché talked with students about the significance of an all-female contemporary dance ensemble in Africa.

“In Africa, contemporary dance groups are usually dominated by men,” said Béatrice Kombe, the group’s founder and choreographer. “For example, in Senegal there is only one female contemporary dancer. I made a choice to have a group with only women.”

Kombe said the meaning of TchéTché is very important to the group’s message of empowerment of women.

“The eagle is a strong symbol and an eagle is an animal that has a goal,” Kombe said. “And when an eagle has a goal they reach it.

Basically, they get what they want.” Kombe said “Dimi” was meant to inspire feelings in viewers on the role of women in society and what they experience because of that role.

“Dimi means pain, suffering,” Kombe said. “Pain and suffering comes from the traditional role that women in Africa have. The piece talks about that pain and women in general. But it’s hard to explain and break down into pieces because you have to see it to understand it.”

Karen Simonian, the director of media and public relations for the Wexner Center, said she was impressed with the response to the shows. “The response to this show has been phenomenal,” Simonian said. “As of right now, there are no tickets left, but there is an outside chance that some may be released later this week.”

Compagnie TchéTché will be performing Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8:00 p.m. and will have a special matinee performance Saturday at 2:00 p.m. Students interested in tickets to any of the performances should contact the ticket office at (614) 292-3535.

via Unique dance ensamble to perform at Wexner Center – Arts – The Lantern – Ohio State University.

Pillow fight is a snoozer

By Vanessa Doyle and Avainte Saunders

Published: Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Updated: Saturday, June 16, 2012 02:06

Clara Zumpetta wasn’t disappointed that she and about 1,750 of her fellow students didn’t pillow fight their way into the Guinness Book of Records.

For the third year in a row, Buckeye pillow fighters failed to break the record of 3,648 set by students at the State University of New York at Albany. But Zumpetta said if the Wednesday night pillow fight “helps increase the awareness of pancreatic cancer, then it’s for a good cause and it doesn’t matter.” The event was held in memory of former OSU Vice President of Student Affairs Bill Hall, who died of the disease last year.

The cause hits close to home for Zumpetta, a pathology graduate student. She said a family friend died recently from pancreatic cancer, “so I came out to support the cause.”

Mortar Board Pillow Fight Chair Sarah Michalos said 1,757 students showed up on the Oval. The Mortar Board is a national leadership society for college seniors.

Michalos said she was still proud of the pillow fight turnout.

“This is our third year doing it and each year we are beating our own record,” she said. “This is the most participants that we’ve had.” According to Michalos, only about 300 students participated last year, due to rainy weather.

“I think the more times we do it, the closer we’ll get to beating the record,” she said, noting that she is a senior and isn’t sure if another student will organize the event next year.

Marissa Dean, a junior exercise science major, shared Michalos’ optimism.

“It was disappointing, but I think that going from (a few hundred) people to over a thousand is awesome,” she said.

Although the event was scheduled to start at 8:30 p.m., it was delayed to allow more students to come to the oval. A pillow fight broke out at 8:34, but Michalos told the crowd it didn’t count. Students waved their pillows in the air in anticipation of the pillow fight that started a couple minutes later. For 60 seconds students pounded each other. <cp_showmedia position=”4″ align=”right”>”I just had fun hitting my boyfriend,” Dean said.

Michalos had a suggestion on how to improve the odds of breaking the record next year, if the event is held for the fourth time.

“(This year) we were focusing more on the freshmen to come out,” she said. “I think if we focused on the entire Ohio State undergraduate population we would get more people out.”


David Heasley


Bryan Bullock


Matthew Hashiguchi


Matthew Hashiguchi

via Pillow fight is a snoozer – Campus – The Lantern – Ohio State University.

OSU prepares for possible bird flu pandemic

By Vanessa Doyle and Avainte Saunders

Published: Monday, June 19, 2006

Updated: Saturday, June 16, 2012 01:06

There is no denying that avian flu has become the story of the moment. News programs focusing on avian flu have been fueled by the increasing appearance of it around the world.

The avian flu craze has even spread to the entertainment industry. In May, ABC aired “Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America,” a TV movie about the consequences of a bird flu pandemic in the U.S. Despite tepid reviews, it was still a hot topic on various Internet blogs the next day.

Although the H5N1 strain of the avian flu virus has existed since 1997, it became highly visible in 2003 after large numbers of chickens suddenly died in South Korea, according to the World Heath Organization. Since then the disease has spread among the bird populations in Asia, Africa and recently in Europe and there has now been an increasing number of human cases. The WHO reports that as of May 29 of this year, there have been 224 cases of avian influenza and 127 deaths attributed to the disease.

But what is the likelihood of an avian flu pandemic?

Dr. Richard Slemons, an associate professor of veterinary preventive medicine and a nationally recognized expert on avian influenza, said a pandemic is possible.

“If that virus is able to replicate more readily in humans, that will give it, by pure chance, the ability to adapt by random mutations in humans and start a pandemic,” Slemons said. “So this virus can go across the species barrier and start another pandemic.”

Dr. Tom Wittum and Dr. Armando Hoet, associate professors of veterinary preventive medicine with a joint appointment in the Ohio State School of Public Health, said there were different factors influencing the appearance of multiple cases of bird flu in Asia.

“Why we’re seeing human cases over there is because of differences in the way the birds live,” Wittum said. “Over here we have these big barns where we can put all our chickens in there. In other parts of the world, every household has a few birds living in the house with them. So the virus is being maintained in those kinds of populations and it provides more opportunities for people to be gradually exposed to the virus.”

Matt Platz, professor of chemistry and a faculty fellow at the Office of Academic Affairs, said it is impossible to know precisely when the next pandemic will strike.

“I think there were three or four pandemics in the 20th century,” Platz said. “No one can predict when the next one will come. No one can predict how severe it will be.”

Wittum said he agreed it was difficult to predict whether a pandemic would come about.

The probability of a pandemic is very low based on what the scientific community knows about the virus, Wittum said. “However, we know that there have been three examples in the past century when these types of outbreaks did occur. It’s a very low probability but there is some risk that it could occur,” he said.

While the idea of a pandemic seems minuscule to some, the administration at Ohio State is currently working on implementing a plan in the case that a pandemic does occur.

When autumn quarter commences, students and faculty can expect to receive information on the subject.

As well as serving as a chemistry professor, Platz is also working to develop a response plan for the Office of Student Affairs that will be reviewed by the Department of Public Safety.

“I’m working on an Aug. 15 deadline to get my plan for the response for the Office of Academic Affairs to the Department of Public Safety,” Platz said.

“We would like to have plans set in place by the first day of classes.”

Platz said the plan regarding how to react to a pandemic is in the beginning stages of being defined and that the summer months will be used to develop answers on how to best respond to the closing of campus for about month and the impact the closing would have on the academic sect.

“How we handle things will depend on whether we are closed in the first week of the quarter or the ninth week of the quarter, and how we would handle grades and how we would handle the start of subsequent quarters,” Platz said. “That’s what we’re going to be thinking about all summer.”

Platz said in the event that the university is closed, students living in dorms who can go home will be sent home.

“The empty dorms could be used as quarantine or isolation units for people who are sick or have been exposed and are not yet sick,” Platz said. “Some dorms will have to be kept open for those students that can’t go home, those students that are international or in other personal circumstances.”

Platz said the state may need the dorms to serve as temporary hospitals.

University Resources and Planning Budget Director Lee Walker said there are enterprises that must be considered in the planning for a pandemic. Walker was in her junior year at OSU when it was closed in 1970 because of shootings at Kent State.

“The thing I didn’t understand when I was a student at Ohio State, probably, or didn’t appreciate as much as I do now with the work I do at the university, is all the sort of stops,” Walker said. “What do you do with the research lab? What do you do with all the animals? Does everyone go home except the guys that feed the animals? There is so much else besides the students and the faculty.”

According to US News & World Report¸ between 2003 and 2004, the OSU Medical Center had 29,200 admissions, 612,584 outpatient visits and 53,294 emergency room visits. As such, closing the university would certainly affect the hospital.

Walker agrees that what to do with OSU Medical Center would be a major concern.

“One-third of our enterprise is the hospital,” Walker said. “Ohio State University has a $3 billion budget, $1 billion of that is the OSU hospital. There are people in the hospital who had just had heart surgery and who are having chemo for cancer and so I guess the hospital stays open if the university shuts down. There is just so much to consider in an enterprise this large.”

Platz also said a pandemic would definitely have an effect on school events, such as football games.

“If the worse comes there’ll be a lot of cancellations,” he said. “I think if the worse comes people wouldn’t want to crowd together in the football stadium. I think we would forbid that from happening even if people wanted to go. I think we can expect cancellations of a lot of public events.”

Whether or not an avian flu pandemic hits, Platz said the university’s planning and preparation will not be for nothing.

“It’s important for the university to go through the exercise because what we learn from the exercise isn’t limited to avian flu,” Platz said. “It would be also used in case of a dam breaking, a flood, a terrorist attack, or any other disaster scenario you could imagine. The hope is that what we learn here will be transferable to other events.”

via OSU prepares for possible bird flu pandemic – Campus – The Lantern – Ohio State University.


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