Many nurses worked
for the Red Cross
Cross organization was formed in response to Henry Dunant's experiences in
Italy in 1859. His book encouraged the establishment of a committee whose main
purpose was to found an organization that could provide immediate relief and
medical attention to those who were wounded or ill as a result of war. The
red cross on a white background was adopted in 1863 as the symbol of this work.
The Canadian Red Cross was not officially established until 1909. As early
as the Riel Resistance in 1885, the work was being done, under the auspices
of a doctor who needed to identify the wagon used to transport the wounded.
He tore up red material and sewed it on to a white background so that the purpose
of the wagon was clearly visible to both sides.
In 1939, the Canadian
Red Cross began preparation for the war that was imminent by establishing
branches and divisions across the country. Nurses have worked since the early
days of the century in the Red Cross organization, but became embedded in
the fabric of society during those horrifying years of the Second World War.
When the war was over, the programs still included first aid for accident
victims, assistance for wounded veterans and education in the areas of health
and safety. And, of course, the Red Cross is most well-known locally for
its blood collection and transfusion program.
Alberta nurses have been
involved in responses to other disasters besides war. In May of 2000, the Red
Cross provided support following an evacuation of 5,000 residents of Red Deer,
Alberta following a hazardous chemical spill. And in July of the same year,
a tornado that devastated a campground in Pine Lake killed 12 and sent close
to 140 to hospital. Over 220 volunteers and staff worked hard to respond
to inquiries, and to provide support and medical aid at the campground immediately
following the tornado.