The passengers and crew of U.S. Airways Flight 1549 gathered in New York City today to honor and thank the American Red Cross employees and volunteers who came to their aid one year ago when their plane crashed into the Hudson River.
Wrapped in Red Cross blankets, survivors of the US Airways plane crash in the Hudson River depart a first aid center in Weehawken, N.J. to board a bus bound for La Guardia Airport, Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009. (AP Photo/Stuart Ramson)
Prior to the ceremony, passenger Dave Sanderson described how grateful he is for the help he received from Red Cross volunteers on the day of the crash. “I don’t know who they were, but a Red Cross volunteer gave me a blanket and helped two EMTs carry me to triage,” he said. “All my clothing was gone – they had to cut them off in the hospital. Again, I don’t know who they were, but someone from the Red Cross brought really ugly sweats and shoes to the hospital. I wore them home and I still have them.”
Red Cross staff in Charlotte supported Sanderson’s family when he finally reached North Carolina. “This (Red Cross) is a national organization that really cares,” he said, “it gives people hope. Hope is what the Red Cross has to offer.”
Sanderson, a dedicated Red Cross blood donor, was especially impressed with the fact that most Red Crossers who respond to emergencies and disasters are volunteers. “These people volunteer their time and efforts during tragic, tough, challenging situations,” he said, “Many [outside the Red Cross?] don’t understand the depth of what the Red Cross has to offer.”
The Charlotte resident reported that he and twenty-two other passengers, along with a first responder and ferry captain, are putting together a book, “Brace For Impact.” Each is writing a chapter about their miracle and what they are all doing with their second chance at life. Proceeds of the book are being donated to the Red Cross. Sanderson has also appeared at several events, telling his story of the help the Red Cross gave to him. “I’m honored to help the Red Cross,” he said.
The flight was enroute from New York’s LaGuardia Airport to Charlotte Douglas International Airport, North Carolina when it struck a flock of Canadian Geese, causing the plane to lose power and forcing the crew to ditch the aircraft in the river. All 155 on board safely evacuated the plane and were rescued by nearby boats.
Red Cross chapters from New York and northern New Jersey responded in minutes with blankets, sweat suits, socks and other supplies for passengers and crew. Red Cross relief workers assisted at the Family Assistance Centers set up by U.S. Airways in Queens and Manhattan, where some passengers were initially evacuated. They provided mental health counseling and further assistance to passengers as needed.
In Charlotte, the Greater Carolinas Chapter provided mental health and health services professionals to help concerned friends and family members after the crash. When an airplane crash occurs, the Red Cross has an agreement with the National Transportation Safety Board to set up family reception centers at the airport where the flight originated, and where it was due for arrival.
Miraculously, all 155 passengers and crew on board escaped with minor injuries. According to fire officials, paramedics treated as many as 78 patients, many for hypothermia, bruises and other minor injuries.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.