Archive for the ‘public service’ Category

Times are tough for some of us, less so for others. If you’re fortunate enough to have the opportunity and means to contribute to a 401K account through your employer, you may have topped out your contribution around now. How about putting an extra $25 or $50 of that to work for charity, in time to count for this year’s taxes?

More and more charities have easy monthly sign-up plans now, where you can give $10, $20, or however much per month. That’s like, giving up one latte a week and getting a coffee instead. But over the year, it adds up for the charity you’re helping. Maybe you’d find it’s easier to give up something small to help somebody else than to save it for yourself. Or decide you want to give up two tall mochas a week and buy yourself something nice at the end of the year with the fund from one of them!

Anyways– this is on my mind and I figured I’d blog my own favorites list. I try to add one every year or so, so that I kind of get used to it and can do a bit more. And if you’re not in a position right now to give money, just smile at one more person a day and that will go a long way toward making the world a better place, too.

  • Heifer Project International; Provide farm animals, seeds, honeybees, to people, who then pass on the gift locally. A bootstrap program making a real difference all over the world.
  • Grameen Foundation; Micro-loans that enable small businesses and bring people out of poverty. A $10 – $20 loan can do things like enable a weaving cooperative to market directly from their village, or help people fund a local mill to grind grain.
  • International Foundation of Red Cross and Red Crescent; Humanitarian aid for disaster victims. You know about their efforts for earthquakes, floods, and the like, but did you know they also work locally to do things like house and help families burned out in apartment fires? Note that IFRC is the parent foundation; “National Societies” like the American Red Cross organize the work by country. IFRC has an online directory of National Societies by country.
  • Hesperian Foundation; Publishing books like “Where There is No Doctor” and “Helping Children Who Are Blind” in multiple languages. All of these books are available for download via their site, btw.
  • Electronic Frontier Foundation; Defending digital liberties, fighting vote fraud, and so very much more.
  • Amnesty International; Working to free the unjustly imprisoned worldwide, and providing hope to those who have been shut away in some political oubliette for speaking their mind and trying to change things.
  • Doctors Without Borders; Sending medical help where it is needed, sometimes into great dangers, to help people in need. Volunteer doctors, nurses, EMTs, pilots– but they need gas money for the planes, medical supplies, logistics, etc.
  • Natural Resources Defense Council; Working to protect wilderness, wild areas, animals, plants, biodiversity. Not one of those “don’t touch it, we don’t care if you starve” orgs, NRDC works on transitioning communities to ecotourism, sustainable wild harvesting, and giving people economic incentive to preserve for long-term good rather than destroy for short-term gain.
  • Organic Consumers Association; Promoting sustainability, fighting the dilution of ‘organic’ (eg, factory farm confinement dairies fed on organic corn), working with communities on food safety.

There are a number of other groups I support, but they don’t seem as universal or uncontroversial to me, like MoveOn, VoteSmart, Weston A Price Foundation.

Please comment with some of your favorite charities, it’s always great to hear.


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For the curious, and those considering joining the happy-go-lucky ranks of amateur radio volunteers, here are 15 minutes of live SVECS repeater audio from the October 30th earthquake. One of the SVECS (Silicon Valley Emergency Communication Services) members was doing audio capture of something unrelated when the quake hit, and switched his input to get the repeater traffic. Note that I’m not on there; the traffic is local AEC’s, Area Emergency Coordinators, checking in to pass on reports overall from local nets like SPECS (Southern Peninsula Emergency Communication Services) or Sunnyvale ARES.

If this had been a serious earthquake, the dialogue would have been much more focused, and possibly somewhat grim. As it is, it’s a nice sample of folks following the standard procedures: creating a net, Net Control taking damage reports, etc. Mike and I self-activated, checked into the Sunnyvale SARES/SPECS network, and went to the main clubhouse to set up our comm station in case of damage here in our housing complex. It was a nice test run of our own procedures, and we found some things that need work– such as someone moving the Damage Report packets to an unknown location, and the portable antenna being moved to where debris would have hampered access to it in a stronger quake.

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The Sunnyvale SNAP class last night was a real eye-opener. First of 2 sessions on disaster medical response. Forget what they teach you in Red Cross lifesaving class, because it’s “do the greatest good for the greatest number”. This is the same triage training that firefighters and police get– in fact, we saw a firefighter training video.

It’s fast, efficient, and brutally realistic.

START WHERE YOU STAND. When you enter the scene and become a first responder, whether it’s the doorway of a room, or (as in the film) going through the windshield of an overturned bus.

MINOR: Anyone who can stand up and walk past you, out to where you tell them to go, which is the first thing you do. Retain a couple of the ones that look the least bad and ask if they can stay here a minute, you may need them to help. Get one to call 911, if you aren’t responding to a 911.

Then, from nearest to you outward, you go and do a check on everyone else. It will take less than a minute per person; it may take less than 30 seconds per person. Yes, you or someone else will come back to them later, but you must check everyone.

Are they breathing? Yes, next test. No, clear airway and re-check. No, tag as DECEASED. That was the shocker for most of us. Why? Because when you begin CPR, you can’t stop until the professionals arrive. Which means that someone further on who you might be able to save may die. So you tag and move on. If they’re breathing but unconscious, ask one of your MINOR (walking wounded) to hold them in the cleared-airway position, or use the Recovery Roll to put them on their side so they won’t aspirate if they start to vomit.

Is their circulatory system ok? Pinch the finger of a hand, the earlobe, or the web between fingers hard. If the area doesn’t recover normal skin color in 2 seconds, tag as IMMEDIATE and stop any active bleeding. Get a MINOR to hold and press a cloth or dressing while you move on, or tie one on if you are alone. Not a tourniquet– a tight dressing. Tourniquets are ‘goodbye limb, we must save the person’. Don’t use. Ever. Unless you are EMT or similarly trained. If ok, move to next test.

Mental awareness? Ask questions you know the answer to (what day is it? do you know what happened? what city are we in?). If the person can’t answer, or is mumbling to themselves over and over, etc, tag as IMMEDIATE. Otherwise, tag as DELAYED.

That’s it. Period.

Not office first aid. Give the most people the best chance, because the assumption is that either temporarily or long-term, there just aren’t enough caregivers to deal with all the victims.

Sucking chest wound, but passes those 3 tests? DELAYED
Huge piece of metal sticking out of torso or eye? DELAYED
No breathing, but it’s a child or baby? DECEASED

I have no problem with this. From what some other folks in the class were saying, I wonder if I should have a problem with it. But I don’t. Not sure what that makes me, except, I hope, a survivor.

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