By Tom Horan, Public Affairs Volunteer
If she had not attended a Volunteer Recognition Event in 2006, Liz Odle would probably not have spent the last 14 years helping others in times of disaster. “I was a working nurse and volunteer First Aid CPR instructor for the Red Cross.” states Liz, who became an instructor in 1992. “I attended the recognition event and heard about all these people helping out during disasters and said, I can do that!” Liz was previously active with her local Boy Scout troop and saw a need for providing first aid training. “In the early ’90s they needed a medical person at the local Ventura Council Boy Scout Camp in Lockwood Valley, and I became the Camp Nurse for about six summers,” comments Liz.
She credits Eleanor Guzik with getting her involved with the Disaster Cycle Services team in Ventura County.
“As nurses, we have two primary roles during a disaster. First, we ensure the safety and well being of both those staying with us and our volunteers. It can be stressful for both.” Liz adds that the second role nurses provide is to make sure that families who are in recovery mode during a disaster maintain their care plan moving forward, even if they are in a shelter. “It is very important that patients do not regress during a disaster, and it is easy for them to fall back and lose ground.” She says that nurses do all they can to provide a calming influence on patients. She adds, “calmness promotes health and recovery.”
In her years of supporting Disaster Cycle Services, Liz has worked many incidents. Most recently for the Woolsey and Thomas fires, where she scheduled nurses and resources during the recovery phase. “It is a special skill set to deal with all the forms, procedures, and people,” she states. She notes that a critical, but little known, aspect is the post-incident support provided by nurses as they assist clients in returning to normalcy as soon as possible.
When asked why she volunteers with the Red Cross, Liz does not hesitate with her answer. “It is so rewarding and gratifying to hear people say, ‘thank you’ as they let us know how much our efforts have meant to them and their families.” She also says that being a Red Cross volunteer is like having a second family. “We have a great bond and sense of camaraderie,” she adds. Liz also mentors nursing students at Ventura College as part of a joint program where nursing students volunteer to serve with the Red Cross.
But most gratifying of all Liz says, “is the great feeling I get helping people – that’s what being a nurse is all about.”
Thank you Liz Odle for your almost thirty years of dedicated and caring service to our community through the Red Cross!
May 6-12 is National Nurses Week, and the American Red Cross is pleased to highlight the vital role our nurses play in helping to achieve our humanitarian mission.