'Big Family' of Red Cross Volunteers Plays Vital Role During Rose Parade

Published : Tuesday, December 17, 2019 | 5:48 AM


Photo courtesy Roxanne Schorbach

Every year, the local Red Cross plays a key role in making sure medical emergencies along the Rose Parade route are handled with ease. Training for this year’s group of 150 volunteers has already started.

The Red Cross will set up stations along the entire parade route. Besides personnel, each station has blankets, water and first aid supplies.

“Red Cross Los Angeles region has been doing this 40 years in conjunction with the Tournament of Roses and under the direction of the Pasadena Fire Dept,” said Roxanne Schorbach, Red Cross First Aid Station Community and Rose Parade Events spokesperson.

“Our new volunteers come from different places,” Schorbach said. “Some are lifeguards or CERT or come from Red Cross youth groups at the high schools.”

Each year, preparations start right after the Rose Parade finishes for the next year’s Parade. Momentum quickens in the summer and fall when volunteers start refreshing their training.

New volunteers come in and take full training courses on the first Saturday of December. The volunteers meet for a full day of training.

Photo courtesy Roxanne Schorbach

“Whether they’ve been there 10 years or this is the first time, we’ll go over the policy, protocol and procedure,” Schorbach said. “We had four first aid stations set up in the parking lot and we sent teams through with mock scenarios of what they see on parade routes. They were able to practice their radio skills. It’s really good for people who haven’t used the radio before and some of the youth, they work on processing patients and working with team members.”

The Pasadena Fire Department had a rescue ambulance on the scene with a full crew.

“It was a fully encompassing day of how things will work,” Schorbach said.

The Red Cross volunteer group also covers pre-parade events and post-parade events.

The pre-parade events include float decorating at the Rose Bowl complex and also another location in Irwindale, so we have teams at both locations and then we cover Fan Fest a two day event that happens at Pasadena City College.

“Our first aid stations are staffed by volunteers trained in basic life support emergency medical responder training, EMR,” she said. “We have paramedics, and some volunteers are nurses and sometimes we have doctors as part of the team. We have quite a variety of skills.”

There’s a station leader an assistant station leader and patrol teams at each station, and there are stations along the parade route north and south. Each station will have supplies including a couple of blankets, water, first aid and all of the volunteers are connected by radio.

“Any time there’s an incident, let’s say there’s a slip-and-fall for instance, one of our teams would approach that incident it would be called in to medical communications, it would be reported and documented, if that team needs additional support or to transport the patient to a hospital they would call for an ambulance. Ambulances are staged along the parade route so that we normally would have four or five minute response when the call is put in.”

Temperature determines a lot on parade day. Generally If it’s a cooler throughout the parade we won’t have so many incidents. If the temperatures are warmer they get dehydrated.

But in all it’s a great experience. Many volunteers return annually.

“We’ve had volunteers come back with some coming back after going to medical school,” Schorbach said. “It’s amazing the amount of knowledge and the experience the group has. The volunteers come back year after year. It’s like a family. ”

Schorbach offers some tips to  paradegoers to help them enjoy the big day:

Here are tips if you go:

  • Dress in layers
  • Eat a good breakfast
  • Stay hydrated
  • Stay warm
  • Keep a hat on
  • Wear scarf and gloves
  • Sneakers are not as warm as light hiking boots
  • Avoid alcohol as it dries you out
  • Get a good a night’s sleep



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