Red Cross a big part of Saturdays in Tiger Stadium

When you think of Tiger Stadium, what comes to mind?

While all these elements make up the mystique that is the most feared road playing site in the nation, there are other things just as synonymous with Tiger Stadium as hot boudin and cold coush-coush.

The American Red Cross is as big a fixture in Tiger Stadium as Dan Borne and the Chinese Bandits.

The Louisiana Capital Area Chapter of the American Red Cross has serviced Tiger Stadium on Saturday nights for well over 60 years. Staffing 11 first aid stations in Death Valley, the Red Cross features 10 standard stations and one trauma unit.

"We have 85-100 volunteers and treat 200-300 situations per game," said Louisiana Capital Area CEO Vic Howell. "We have a few more cases than most places mainly due to alcohol. But people do like to party down here."

LSU is one of three SEC schools – Georgia and Tennessee are the others – that have first aid stations manned by the Red Cross. Fortunately, throughout the years Tiger Stadium has never recorded a death on the Red Cross' watch.

"We are very fortunate to have never had a fatality," Howell said.

At the 2003 Spring Game, Kay Planchard, mother of LSU lineman Doug Planchard, faced a life-threatening situation and has the Red Cross to thank for quick action.

As she and husband Doug drove to the game, Kay noticed a tingle on her left side, and her speech began to slur significantly. She knew that an American Red Cross First Aid station was accessible through the same gate in which they entered to be seated, but decided against any immediate attention in thought of missing her son's first game.

As they neared Tiger Stadium, her symptoms failed to dissipate. She quickly realized that this could soon become a very serious situation.

Upon arrival at the stadium, they proceeded directly to the Red Cross First Aid Station, where they were promptly greeted by Beverly Burton, who first responded to Kay's situation. Burton, an LPN by day and volunteer during the football season, immediately assessed the situation and realized how severe it was. Burton knew that these symptoms required immediate attention and quickly called for EMS workers.

The ambulance transported her to the hospital where the Kay was later diagnosed with a brain tumor. The operation to remove the tumor was performed April 16, 2003 and was a complete success.

It was the work of Burton and other's like ‘Nurse Genny' that makes the Red Cross' efforts at Tiger Stadium worthwhile.

‘Nurse' Genny Sheridan is a longtime volunteer and has been a mainstay with the Red Cross in Tiger Stadium for over 63 years. She spent 20 years manning the stadium's stations, during which time the number of stations increased from seven to 10 and added the services of a helicopter.

The Louisiana Capital Area Red Cross' efforts are funded by three different outlets, the primary one being the United Way of Louisiana.

"About 45-percent of our funding comes from the United Way," Howell said.

The other 55-percent comes from self-generated funds as well as fund raisers. Howell said LSU pitches in some funds for certain operating costs and break-even expenses.

The Red Cross is the only non-profit organization that is allowed to hold fund raising drives on campus during the season. Director of public relations Kendall Hebert said on one home game weekend, the Red Cross is on campus collecting money in what the Red Cross calls its "Dollars for Disaster."

Along with Howell and Hebert, the Louisiana Capital Area Chapter of the Red Cross includes three paid employees. Louis Hicks serves as the Director of Health and Safety Services. Chad Theunissen is an instructor specialist. Ross Remmert rounds out the full-time staff. Larry Hofstead is the Red Cross' lead volunteer.

Howell stressed almost all of the volunteers in the first aid stations give freely of their time and most give up the opportunity to watch the Tigers in action to work in the designated stations.

"These volunteers are dedicated," Howell said.

Howell added Tom Stafford, Jeanette Arnold, Joe Forbes, Lynn Perez-Fredericks, Monica Miceli, Bill Matherne, Mickey Sharp and J.R. Madden have five or more years of service devoted to the Red Cross first aid stations.

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