The Bermuda Red Cross was formed on 1st August, 1950 as a Branch of the British Red Cross Society. Originally a Nursing Reserve, it has grown over the years to provide other community based programs focusing on the most vulnerable.
In 1955 the late Dr. Everette Shaw, KEMH Pathologist, together with several volunteer nurses conducted an Island wide blood typing project with some 14,000 residents being typed. This produced a Register of over 2,500 Volunteer Donors who were then matched with patients as the need arose.
In 1965 when the new hospital opened, Bermuda Red Cross was asked by the Bermuda Hospitals Board to manage the Blood Bank. In Bermuda all blood is provided free to both residents and visitors. In 2009, Bermuda Red Cross and the Bermuda Hospitals Board jointly announced a move to paid nursing and technical staff in the Blood Donor Clinic in the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, with on-call volunteer support from the Bermuda Red Cross for emergencies. The decision was made by both bodies due to accreditation requirements and a gradual decline in the number of qualified volunteers. The Bermuda Red Cross continues to promote blood donation in the community.
In 1967 we started the Hospital Equipment Rental Service. This provides all types of medical equipment such as hospital beds, wheelchairs, walkers, commodes as well as children’s equipment for use outside of the hospital. To date we have over 900 pieces of equipment and serve some 800 customers. Excess supplies of this equipment are frequently sent to our sister societies in the Caribbean. In January, 2003 we relocated this service to the main Red Cross property where there is now ample storage for the equipment and space for repair work. There are 15 dedicated volunteers assisting in this area.
In 1970, to mark the 100th Anniversary of the British Red Cross, we started our Centennial Transport Service. Volunteers used their own cars to provide free transportation to the elderly, needy, handicapped and blind. We drove to doctor’s offices, the laboratory, X-ray, Dialysis, and physiotherapy. Each year 10 volunteer drivers make approximately 800 drivers.
We sponsor the Golden Hour Club, a senior citizen’s group that meets every two weeks for fellowship and entertainment. They also have entertainment provided by the various school choirs and bands and enjoy an annual picnic in the Botanical Gardens. 4 dedicated persons assist the group. There are between 30 – 40 seniors who attend the Wednesday functions.
Effective September, 2009, Bermuda Hospitals Board and the Bermuda Red Cross moved to paid nursing and technical staff in the Blood Donor Clinic in the Kind Edward VII Memorial Hospital, with on-call volunteer support from the Bermuda Red Cross for emergencies. The Bermuda Red Cross will also continue to promote blood donation in the community. This decision was made by both bodies due to accreditation recommendations and a gradual decline in the number of qualified volunteers.
In 1996 we became the “umbrella” organization for the promotion and distribution of Organ & Tissue donor cards together with information about this life-giving contribution. The Bermuda Organ and Tissue Donor Association is affiliated with the New England Organ & Tissue Donor Bank, and Bermuda is categorized in their #1 priority group. This high priority results from Bermuda’s close proximity and accessibility. Several transplants are done at KEMH by local ear and eye surgeons, and many organs and tissues are donated and received by Bermuda families through the New England affiliate.
In the area of Disaster Management, our role is to assist with providing supplies in the event of an extensive natural disaster and also to assist the King Edward Memorial Hospital in Mass Casualty disasters. In 2012, we commenced a Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) program that actively takes us into the community, collaborating with many organizations in order to assist with reducing risk at community level. Our Approach to Disaster Management is to empower communities to take charge of their own recovery. Preparedness and recovery is vital to any disaster management plan. Disaster Risk Reduction helps communities identify the most significant hazards in their environment and to understand the patterns of vulnerability to them. We advise communities on how to devise ways to manage the hazards and reduce vulnerability. Through this process we are empowering communities to become more resilient and be less reliant on others.
As a globally Trusted organization, we are a member of the Emergency Measures Organization sub-committee.
Historically we have come to the aid of victims of natural disasters around the world. If an appeal is launched by the International Federation of Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies or from the country itself, we will also launch an appeal to the Bermuda public seeking financial assistance. To date just over $7 million has been raised in the community through the Bermuda Red Cross.