Beyond responding to and planning for large scale disasters, the Red Cross also provides health and safety training for citizens to carry over in case of their own personal emergencies.
"For health and safety, we keep a regular schedule for CPR, aquatic and youth babysitting training," said Diane Chilson, education and training director for the Mid-Dakota Chapter of the American Red Cross. "We're about to start family caregiving and classes for singles in the coming year,"
Chilson said family caregiving, or classes focused on adults who care for the aging or ill adult at home, and self care, or classes focused on those living alone, are classes that will have a growing demand as population demographics change.
Katina Tengesdal/MDN - - Diane Chilson, education and training director for the Mid-Dakota Chapter of the American Red Cross, displays training dummies used in CPR training.
For self care, Chilson said a growing number of individuals will be living by themselves and will need to know how to respond in case of a personal emergency.
"In 2010 in North Dakota, 26 percent of our population will be considered single, not living with a family. We're targeting self-help courses, or first aid for people living alone, for that group," Chilson said.
"In this population it would include college students that have room-mates, or the aged whose spouses have passed on," she said. "According to the statistics, one in five people you meet will live alone."
For the increasing aging population, Chilson explained, many will want to remain at home. The state data center reported some 14.7 percent of the state's population was 65 years of age or older in 2000, with those figures projected to rise during the next 20 years. Caregivers of aging individuals could benefit from family caregiving courses.
"We need to do something to address that now," she said. "We need to start providing a service to allow them to learn to be safe, and remain in their homes for as long as possible."
While these new classes will be added to the schedule according to the demand for them, the Red Cross will continue to offer services to youth as well.
Family caregiving classes can help caregivers gain the confidence they need to continue caring for their loved one at home. The series of classes will cover several issues, including helping an individual with movement, legal and financial issues, and caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's or dementia.
"It's a valuable service because it makes the caregiver more comfortable," Chilson said. "It's a benefit to their loved one to be cared for at home by a family member."
Red Cross instructors are already trained on various aspects of family caregiving, and can offer training on many health and safety issues. For additional information, community members will be called upon to supplement the class series.
"We can give the basic information," Chilson said. "It's set up as a grassroots movement, with other community members coming in and supplementing their expertise in the class, such as the knowledge of a financial planner, a lawyer, or nursing home staff."
"We thought it would be a nice community effort to get solid information out to the aging population," she added.
Individuals can take away information that can help them make every day life easier, as well as the long term. For example, Chilson explained, the section of the course on movement can help caregivers learn how to help their loved one in and out of bed, with walking, and with getting in and out of chairs.
"With the movement section, we're not only trying to provide safety for the elderly person, but preventing back injuries in the caregiver," Chilson said.
For the individual living alone, quick response to an emergency can make a big difference. Chilson explained that self care classes will have a focus on how to respond to a personal emergency and how to recognize the signs and symptoms of sudden illness.
"The more aware you are of the signs and symptoms of illness, the better the outcome is," Chilson said. "That's one focus of the self help classes. Another focus is on what you should do after you've dialed 9-1-1, and what to do until help arrives."
The Mid-Dakota Chapter of the Red Cross is looking forward to providing the new courses to the community.
"Our mission is to plan and prepare for an emergency, and training and education is part of that," she said. "We're excited to offer these classes to the community, because we see the demographic trends are going to be more challenging for adults."