Red Cross organisation is one of the most outstanding organizations on the surface of the planet. The American Red Cross has several goals from which one can highlight its assistance to people in need during a natural disaster. Although its aim is benevolent, its structure and operation may become bureaucratic. The aim of this report is to find a way to improve the American Red Cross organization’s operation and performance. Let us begin by understanding the organization to attain this function.
The Red Cross movement began in Europe, with a Swiss businessman, Jean-Henri Dunant. In 1859, Mr. Dunant witnessed a battle in Italy and was horrified to see how the wounded were left to die without help. He quickly gathered the villagers to rescue the wounded and took them to the houses and church to give them the best assistance they could at the time. Most of them had little or no medical experience. From there on, Dunant devoted his work to train international relief groups that would go into aid the wounded in battlefields worldwide, both civilians and soldiers, who were victims it’s important to say, of fighting, that Mr. Dunant had requested that these organizations work independently of any country. Two conventions played very important roles for the development of the Red Cross starting in 1863. The first laid out the ideals of the Red Cross in Geneva, Switzerland, and the second set out the guidelines on how to handle the injured a battlefield and the conduct of war. Initially twelve European Nations signed the Geneva Convention, today the Red Cross organization can work in war zones and battlefield worldwide, under the International Committee of the Red Cross. (Red Cross History. How the American Red Cross Works. Howstuffworks.com)
Clara Barton volunteered as a nurse in the United States during the civil war to support the injured soldiers on the battlefield. Since she was a former school teacher, and then an office clerk, she had no medical background. Her first hand experience with the wounded inside the battlefield, made her realize that these soldiers needed professional care as soon as the battle ended, and later when the war was over, she created a system to track down missing soldiers and bring them together with their families. Later on she made a trip to Europe where she learned about the Red Cross organization and its similarities to her efforts. She stayed in Europe, volunteering to work in wars across Europe. Barton returned to the United States and began organizing the American Red Cross, even though the United States had not signed the Geneva Convention. To Clara Barton, the political issues were not obstacles and move a step forward into enhancing the scope of the American Red Cross and aiding victims of natural disasters. During the 1880’s floods and forest fires, helped to draw attention into Barton’s labor and the U.S. government signed the convention and recognized the American Red Cross. Later on she returned to Europe and convinced the Red Cross federation to enhance its activities during peacetime. Ms. Clara Barton served as president of the American Red Cross for twenty-three years and traveled to locations to personally oversee the relief aids. (Red Cross History. How the American Red Cross Works. Howstuffworks.com)
The main focus of the Red Cross federation has changed over the years, today is to provide relief to disasters victims rather than provide aid to war victims. Also the term Cross is not widely used anymore, there are some Muslims organizations under a Red Crescent. The reason being is that the cross signifies Christianity for many people, there is an organization that uses the red Star of David. In any case, they share the same purpose and are driven by the same seven principles: Humanity, Impartiality, Neutrality, Independence, Voluntary Service, Unity and Universality, which represent their philosophy. (Red Cross History. How the American Red Cross Works. Howstuffworks.com)
The American Red Cross has been focussing primarily on humanitarian relief since 1881. About 95 percent is composed by volunteers and every year about one million people volunteer to work with the organization. Although the American Red Cross is considered the largest humanitarian aid organization, it is a branch of the worldwide aid organization, whose main purpose is to provide relief to people in disaster, to help them prevent and prepare themselves for emergencies. (Red Cross Structure. How the American Red Cross Works. Howstuffworks.com)
The head office of the American Red Cross is based in Washington D.C. built in 1917 and dedicated to the brave women of the civil war. Today it has turned into a museum. (American Red Cross. Wikipedia.org) The American Red Cross is composed by 769 chapters which are based in different cities. Each chapter is chartered by the national board of governors. The directors of each chapter have certain level of freedom in determining which services are most vital within their areas. The government doesn’t fund the American Red Cross but in some relief efforts it pays for facilities. The American Red Cross holds an annual budget of $4.1 billions that are distributed amongst all the chapters. This budget is raised through donations as well as fees for some services. Since the American Red Cross is a non profit, charitable organization, it is tax exempt. (Red Cross Structure. How the American Red Cross Works. Howstuffworks.com)
Although the original Red Cross organization had set to be independent of any nation, the American Red Cross is not completely independent of the United States government. The organization runs under a Congressional charter ever since 1905, behaving as an instrument, as where the organization performs tasks delegated by the government and carries out duties and responsibilities set in the Geneva Convention. Also the blood collection and storage process are monitored by the Federal Food and Drug Administration. (Red Cross Structure. How the American Red Cross Works. Howstuffworks.com)
The American Red Cross president is elected by a Board of Governors composed by fifty members. All of these governors are volunteers; however, the president has a salary of $200,000 a year. From these fifty members, the honorary chairperson of the Board of Governors is the president of the United States, who also appoints about eight members. The rest of the Board of Governors are elected at the annual national convention. (Red Cross Structure. How the American Red Cross Works. Howstuffworks.com)
The American Red Cross has four main functions, which are: blood collection, disaster relief, to provide aid to victims of war and soldiers, and to educate community. Blood collection is the most common activity in which approximately four million people donate blood, which accounts for around half of the United States ‘ blood supply. The blood donation process is almost painless, but the unavoidable needle still plays a part, and some donors have been able to play tricks. Usually the amount to donate is a pint, which a human being can be able to regenerate in a period of twenty-four hours, and it only takes about ten minutes to obtain it. One important aspect about this process, is that the professional team in charge, conducts a small physical test on the donor, the body temperature is checked as well as the blood pressure and iron level. The American Red Cross requires this step-in order to make sure they are collecting a safe blood. The Americans require about 39,000 units of blood every day, due to accidents, illness, surgeries, etc. The blood that has been collected is labeled and shipped to two different places, the component lab and the testing lab. The latter performs nine different tests to identify any transmissible disease. Once the results are obtained the component lab divides the unit into red blood cells, platelets and plasma, and distributes to all hospitals, including military) as needed. (Red Cross Structure. How the American Red Cross Works. Howstuffworks.com) From personal experiences, the writer can explain that after few weeks of having donated the blood, the donor receives a card from the American Red Cross organization, indicating his/her type of blood and the presence/absence of any disease tested for.
Up until 2005, the American Red Cross organization was involved in the Tissue Services Program, where the organization provided allograft tissue for transplant. The organization collected tissue from donors and sold them to more than one million transplant recipients. (American Red Cross. Wikipedia.org) Also, the American Red Cross provides the plasma services, where it is a leader by providing reliable and cost effective as well as safe. (American Red Cross. Wikipedia.org) In 1999 the American Red Cross was the first organization to implement the Nucleic Acid Testing (NAT) study, where the genetic material of HIV and Hepatitis C is looked for rather than the body responses to the diseases. The American Red Cross is also involved in the process call cellular therapy, where the cells from the blood of a donor or patient are treated and then introduced into the patient to revive the functions of the dead cells. (American Red Cross. Wikipedia.org)
The second function, disaster relief, it is also considered a very important function. Even though the American Red Cross organization is the only branch dedicated to this activity. The purpose of the organization is to provide the required relief within the two hours of being notified. The responsibility of dealing with disasters, relies on local, state or federal government, therefore the American Red Cross organization must wait until the government notifies it to begin mobilization. The primary duty of the organization, once it arrives to the disaster area, is to provide food, water, shelter and medical support. The medical support can range from first aid to dialysis. The American Red Cross also provides mental health counseling to the victims, volunteers and rescuers. One has to keep in mind that during the aftermath of a disaster, anyone involved is a witness of unimaginable things as well as devastation beyond comprehension, for that reason the American Red Cross has professional members trained in counseling for disasters. The scope of the work of the organization does not stop there, it also helps the victims to resume their lives by providing them with the necessary tools. In some cases, where the government help is not enough for rebuilding, the American Red Cross organization can offer that long-term help. Also, where there are major disasters as the 2004 Tsunami, the American Red Cross organization sends supplies and personnel to supports the efforts of other Red Cross and Red Crescent organizations. (Red Cross Structure. How the American Red Cross Works. Howstuffworks.com) One aspect about this function that has caught the interest of the writer, is the chore of the organization to attempt to reunite families that have been divided during the disaster. Throughout the 2004 Tsunami, we have been witnesses of many heartbreaking stories of happy endings and not so happy as well.
The original function, supporting soldiers and war victims, comes in the form of distributing care packages and holding the contact between soldiers and loved ones. The American Red Cross organization does get involved with Prisoners of War; this is a function monitored by the International Red Cross Committee. (American Red Cross. Wikipedia.org)
The fourth function, educating the community, comes in the form of providing courses for babysitters training, lifeguards training, CPR training and HIV/AIDS certification in education. The American Red Cross teaches about 12 million Americans. (American Red Cross. Wikipedia.org)
As it has been mentioned before, the American Red Cross is a branch of the International Red Cross Organization, and one of the functions of being a branch is being able to support the large organization in international disasters. The American Red Cross is focusing on programs such as measles diseases programs, malaria diseases programs in Africa, disaster responses worldwide such as the 2004 Tsunami, etc. For these events the American Red Cross International relief services has placed two stations, packed with supplies, in order to attend the major disaster or any other event. These two locations are Dubai and Panama. Also the organization counts with a team composed by highly trained professional and pre-packaged technical equipment, known as ERU. Part of the organization’s effort is to get involved in the world’s health program, for now they are focusing in reducing child mortality, maternal health care, combating infectious diseases. The American Red Cross organization has engaged in vaccination programs where child mortality has reduced to 48 percent worldwide and 60 percent in Africa where the incidence was larger. Additionally, this branch has gotten involved in a program where families are reunited or communication has been established. This focuses mainly on those families that had been separated during war or during a natural disaster. (American Red Cross. Wikipedia.org) The writer believes this is an extraordinary effort, since a human being cannot stand the loss of his life, by loosing his house, car, city due to natural disasters and additionally loose his/her family as well.
One of the biggest challenges the American Red Cross organization has to face is to be able to distribute efficiently and promptly the aid required, the supplies and the money. For this reason, the American Red Cross organization does not accept small material donations such as clothing or food. It is considered that the process of organizing and transportation would take too much of manpower and time and the benefits will not reflect that. Also, the issue of safety and cleanliness has to be taken into account since the American Red Cross organization can not take some risks in that area. The American Red Cross takes monetary donation and large bulk supplies, such as water and non perishable foods. The money is turned into vouchers where the affected people can trade in the vouchers, at local stores, for specific required items. With the large donations, the American Red Cross attempts to distribute them by coordinating efforts with the local chapters and human aid organizations working in the area. Sometimes this process can not be accomplished since the devastation is large and communication systems are not available. During a disaster or likely situation, the priority of the American Red Cross organization is to attend the immediate medical needs and concerns. Later it sets a distribution center, in an accessible and stable area, where people can go and obtain their supplies. There are cases where people are not capable to reach those centers, then the organization delivers the supplies through their delivery trucks. (Red Cross Structure. How the American Red Cross Works. Howstuffworks.com)
As it was expected from any large corporation, organization, etc. the operation process has not always been stable. The Clara Barton’s period ended in her resignation after several accusations arouse regarding her bookkeeping. Again, the presidency was under siege during the 1996 presidential elections, where Ms. Elizabeth Doyle was accused to use her power and support her husband’s campaign through the American Red Cross organization. Also Ms. Marsha Evans resigned from presidency in 2005 claiming difficulties in dealing with the Board of Governors, as where some people claim her performance during the hurricane Katrina. Additionally, in 2001 the blood collection process was observed and widely critized since the FDA filed a motion in a federal court and accused the organization from not improving some aspects in the blood collection process. As a response the American Red Cross organization, claimed bookkeeping errors and that the nation’s blood supply was safe. (Red Cross Structure. How the American Red Cross Works. Howstuffworks.com) The result for the previous was a consent decree, where the American Red Cross was fined in the millions of dollars, and after an amendment in 2003 the FDA can impose penalties. The organization now counts with a standardized computer system that maintains the blood donor database efficiently. (American Red Cross. Wikipedia.org)
As part of the blood collection process, the American Red Cross organization performs a questionnaire in order to obtain information and reliable blood, in cases where the individuals have engaged in situations or high risk for blood diseases, they are not accepted as donors for certain period of time and/or are banned for life. This is the case where the individual has engaged in man to man sex, or a woman has engaged in sex with a man who had engaged in man to man sex relationship, then they are banned for life, thus upsetting the gay right groups, who claims discrimination against gay men. Although the restriction has been revised in 2000 the ban has not been lifted. The next conflict arouses when the funds that the people had donated for a cause were diverted or set aside for future incidents. (Red Cross Structure. How the American Red Cross Works. Howstuffworks.com)
During the 9/11 attack, the President of the American Red Cross organization requested the American public to donate more blood. Let us remember that the organization provides almost fifty percent of the blood supply to the country. The supplier of the other half indicated that the quota had been met. The end result, the President of the American Red Cross organization, had requested more blood to maintain an assisting environment. The end result was that some of the obtained blood had to be thrown away. The people had just suffered a major impact, a terrorist attack of such magnitude had never been seen in the country, they felt betrayed, violated, invaded, and in addition they were lied to. Additionally, the American Red Cross set up the Liberty fund and received about $900 millions from which about $200 millions were designated to cover some future disasters. The latter led on to complaints from the donors and force the American Red Cross to modify this policy and inevitably the resignation of the organization’s President. (American Red Cross. Wikipedia.org)
Later on, after the hurricane Katrina, there some complaints that the donated money was not designated for long term rebuild, although that is something the American Red Cross funds are not traditionally used for. The American Red Cross received about 60 percent of the roughly $3.6 billion that was donated for hurricane relief. The American Red Cross received about 60 percent of the roughly $3.6 billion that was donated for hurricane relief. There were complaints that the relief efforts were unorganized, poor and directed to white victims rather than black. Also, they have added complaints about the disappearance of rented cars, generators and up to 9,000 air mattresses donated by a private company. In another situation, a volunteer from Michigan denounced that while using a computer system to track down the supplies, about half of them could not be accounted for. (Red Cross Sifting Internal Charges Over Katrina Aid. Nytimes.com)
After these two major incidents and controversies in October 2006, the American Red Cross announced plans for a major overhaul, which among other things, would reduce the influence of the presidential appointed overseers. Some of the changes can be implemented immediately; However, the main proposals require the approval from Congress, which implies time and politics. (Red Cross announces management shake-up. Msnbc.com)
And yet another conflict that the American Red Cross had to face, where Johnson & Johnson filed a lawsuit against the organization. J&J demands that the American Red Cross stops using the red cross emblem on products being sold to the public. (Johnson & Johnson is suing American Red Cross over emblem use. Herald tribune.)
It is very clear from the overview previously provided where this company has room for improvement. Let’s continue from the start, the Swiss founder’s idea, Mr. Dunant, was to create an independent international organization whose only chore was to provide aid to the people in need. The first flaw the writer finds is that the organization of the American Red Cross is semi-dependent on the United States. government ever since the early 1900’s. Ms. Clara Barton was wise to obtain support from the U.S. government and even obtain a national headquarters a block away from the White House. However, she was forced to pay a high price and that is to allow politics into an organization with the opposite purposes. Within any government, the forces that drive the decision making almost always are the continued pressure applied by different sectors. For example, within the United States, the civil war would had not taken place if the South and the North would had not pressured with their own interests. Hardly any side, perceived the humanitarian sight that human beings were treated lesser than animals, and had into considerations that we all, man kind, deserve our freedom. Additionally, as it was mentioned earlier, Ms. Barton was forced to resign from office due to some bookkeeping issues and friction with other Board members. The same story has been seen throughout the years, including recently after major disaster occurred within the United States territory.
The writer has taken interest in the events of October 2006, where major changes were announced for the American Red Cross organization. These proposals are severe and drastic; however, they are subject to be approved by the Congress. The approval process might take time and money, until an interest finally weighs down and the changes are accepted or rejected. The writer suggests that initially the American Red Cross organization, emancipates from the United States government and stands alone as a humanitarian aid organization and not a political addendum to the government. Due to its size and the amount of money it manages, it does not longer require the financial support from the government and all the strings attached to that support. The writer believes this is a very daring step to make, but should be driven by necessity more than anything else. The consequences of taking this step would be the freedom to elect a board full of dedicated members and not appointed for political reasons. Second, the President of the United States, could still participate as a guest, but no longer should have power within the organization. The American Red Cross organization now should be able to make its own decisions disregarding the political pressures of every administration.
From this point on, the American Red Cross organization requires to enhance public productivity. Based upon the article wrote by Howard Frank and Jill Strube, “Enhancing Public Productivity: A Unified Approach”, the organization requires a reengineering process. According to the authors in order to have an organizational impact, the senior managers must create a climate that encourages the process to begin. Also, to encourage innovation and risk-taking, management should not harm the subordinates in an occasional misstep. (Ammons, 1999) Applying the previous to the American Red Cross Society, the reengineering should focus on the Board of Governors. The 30,000 employees that the organization hires do not require reengineering since their job is specific (mostly nurses) and cannot be penalized. The volunteers under each chapter cannot be penalized nor awarded. The upper management, including the president, is the group that should be encouraged to take further steps into innovation and risk-taking procedures, without loosing sight of the original purpose of the creation of the organization. Also, in this journal, the writers believe that if the organizations are accountable for performance, then the employees should be subject to appraisal instrument performance. (Frank & Strube 2007) In the American Red Cross organization case, the performance of each member of the Board of Governors, should be subjected to an evaluation. The same should apply to the President, and the evaluation should be performed by the Board of Governors, people directly affected by his/her policies and performances, and employees working directly under him. As part of the reengineering process, and specifically in this case, the question whether or not the President of the American Red Cross Organization should perceive a salary, arises very often. As any organization, whether it is a profit or not profit organization the job that the president executes should be rewarded according to his/her responsibility. Although this is an organization made up mostly of volunteers, the job of the president is constant with several objectives. The job of a volunteer is for short periods of time, depending on the size of the situation, and is definite, does not require more than he/she was trained for. Therefore, the President should perceive the salary in order to reward him for his or her performance, but should also be subjected to constant tests and evaluations to maintain him/her focused on the organization’s primary goals.
As we have seen throughout the history of the organization, many of the leaders involved have lost sight of the original purposes. One aspect than needs to be taken into consideration, is that the personnel to perform the evaluations, need to be carefully selected. For example, the people working directly underneath the President could be good candidates as well as bad candidates. He/she would know first hand the type of job performed by the President, on the other hand, the President is the boss and could easily dismiss him/her. The evaluations should not be anonymous either, since the situation creates a freedom environment and the individual or tester releases his inner personal feeling rather than his professional opinions. The original statement suggested that the President should be evaluated based upon the performance of the organization, the writer believes that in this case, this situation is also unfair, since the American Red Cross organization depends upon the U.S. government. For example, during the hurricane Katrina disaster, the American Red Cross could not intervene immediately until being notified by the U.S. government. The notification arrived several hours late, and the organization was criticized for its tardiness. In a different scenario, if the American Red Cross organization was independent from the government, and it would count with a specialized team to assess management on when to intervene or how soon the response should be to the natural disaster. Therefore, the responsibility of a bad performance or an outstanding performance would fully rely on the organization’s leaders and not political leaders driven by personal interests or misguidance from his/her advisors.
The re engineering process also includes the workflow revision. (Frank & Strube, 2007) “The analysis of workflow is simple but frequently overlooked.” (Morley 1998; Ammons 2002) The previous statement implies that general a manager and his subordinates have a tendency to behave as machines and perform his/her duties automatically. In the case of the American Red Cross organizations, many people have complained of its performance during the hurricane Katrina disaster, mainly afterwards where the victims were not attended to as they should have. The American Red Cross organization follows standard procedures to set up relief facilities where they distribute the necessary supplies to the victims. In the case of the hurricane Katrina, these facilities were set up and instruments and supplies such as brooms, cleaning utensils were distributed where the victims were left homeless due to the flooding. This is a very good example of how the workflow is not being revised constantly, and in the process, the volunteers are reminded of their duties based upon the nature of the disaster. Also, there has been information regarding theft of supplies, if the workflow had been revised constantly, there would had been very little room for anyone to take advantage and take items such as rented cars, up to 9,000 air mattresses.
According to Frank and Strube, the biggest stumbling block to enhanced productivity is to make the computer system work as intended. As we have seen it previously the American Red Cross organization, was filed a lawsuit against for not even having a computer system to maintain the database of the blood donors. The problem has been partially taken care of; however, the challenge relies now on running the system successfully and making sure is constantly updated and maintained. From previous paragraphs we have been able to see how the American Red Cross organization has incursion into newer fields regarding the analysis of the blood, the different services that the blood can provide, etc. These risk-taking steps must always be accompanied by good computer systems that can track down the processes involved, the amount of resources required to its successful completion and the number of beneficiaries from that process, taking into account that they are really benefits and not beliefs. Additionally, the leader of this organization must always be informed of these systems and he/she should always attempt to come to a good understanding in order to contain reliable basis for the decision-making process.
The writers Frank & Strube, also mention the necessity to take “Concrete Steps to Improving Practice: A De facto Receivership” (Frank & Strube, 2007) Within this section the writers provide several steps to improve practice, the first one being significant upgrades to the physical plant. In the case of the American Red Cross organization, that step has been taken care of by finishing the largest blood center in the country in California. (The American Red Cross. Wikipedia.org) The second step would be the upgrading of training, the American Red Cross organization masters this step, since they constantly train volunteers and Americans countrywide. Nevertheless, during the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, the experienced volunteers have proven to be taking everything for granted and made very large mistakes. For that reason, it is believed that the expertise personnel should follow strict schedules of training to overcome such situations presented in Louisiana. The third step would be through attrition and elimination of temporary positions, reduce the headcount. It is not believed that this step should apply directly to the American Red Cross Organizations. The elimination process should be stricter when signing up the volunteers. Again, the case is during the hurricane Katrina disaster, an ex-con was signed up in Louisiana without a thorough investigation. (Despite Katrina efforts, Red Cross draws criticism. USA TODAY) The fourth step would be to establish a quality assurance section, which, in the writer’s opinion, is very important. In the case of the American Red Cross organization, it is more than imperative to count, due to its size and the number of people employed within the organization with a quality assurance section. This section would also act as a control / measurement device of how the company performs in different situations. The fifth stage, the agency must exhibit heightened customer satisfaction issues, is already implied in the organization’s main purpose. We need to remember that the American Red Cross organization comes into people’s aid during difficult situation, and it is driven by the idea to provide help, satisfaction, comfort, to the best of the organization’s possibilities.
The writers Frank and Strube believe that Crisis is a Re engineering effort’s best friend, and Leadership may have to admit “systems failure” before the System can be repaired. (Frank & Strube, 2007) Both of these statements are highly related within the American Red Cross organization. Ever since its foundation, the organization has presented some critical situations that could be ignored or resolved, they went for the first choice. As time passed and the organization grew, the critical situations have multiplied and can no longer be ignored, therefore in 2006 the management called for major changes. Finally, the leaders have admitted a systems failure and have called for revamping. However, as it has been mentioned earlier, this process cannot be fulfilled completely, until the organization emancipates from the government.
In previous paragraphs, the question whether or not the President of the American Red Cross organization should perceive a salary arouse, a journal titled “Improving Employees’ Self Esteem” by Joel Kirshbaum, should be able to improve our previous response and enhance our understanding. According to Kirshbaum, there are inexpensive ways to increase employees’ self – esteem. The first one is to praise. Within the American Red Cross organization, the employees are being praised constantly, due to the nature of the job they perform. On the other hand, it seems that the Board of Governors are under constant political pressure, that they have hardly anytime to analyze the events and praise each other for the performance of the organization. The latter should change, since they perform very hard activities that require integrity to help out other human beings. The second one is to create Illusionary promotions and pay increases. As it has been mentioned earlier, within the American Red Cross organization there are hardly any spaces for promotion; therefore, management should follow the suggestions presented by Mr. Kirshbaum and reorganize the positions creating more gradations in titles. However, this cannot be applied to the presidential position for obvious reasons, there is no space to be promoted. The third step would be the presumed power, where the organizational charts should show somebody supervising somebody else. Within the American Red Cross organization, this task can easily be done, since there are always new volunteers, who are here to learn and to help, therefore last years volunteers could supervise the new arrivals. The next one would be Prestige from courses and degrees. It is considered that the organization also works on this aspect. As mentioned before, when a person donates blood, he/she receives later one a small card where the American Red Cross organization thanks the donor for his time and commitment to the cause and then it states the type of blood of the donor and the condition of his/her blood.
In earlier paragraphs, it was mentioned that the American Red Cross organization does not get involved with war prisoners, that is a role for the International Red Cross Committee. The writer believes that in this situation the Red Cross organizations across the world should take a more aggressive measurement. For instance, due to its experience and job they perform the American Red Cross organization should pick up the job where the IRCC has not been able to do so. There is a case of a former Colombian presidential candidate, Ingrid Betancourt abducted over six years ago by a radical group FARC. Lately there has been some reports that she is in serious health conditions and might even die if she is not taken care of (Colombia willing to free rebels if hostages are released)
The International Red Cross has been on stand by, waiting for the negotiations from the Colombia’s government and the FARC’s leader. As it is imaginable, the conversations have not have a satisfying result, the International Red Cross cannot enter the jungle and provide medical help for her, without rescuing her, and not knowing whether she is alive or not. Once again, the politics are playing bigger roles than the lives of human beings, it is important to mention that FARC has kidnapped over four thousand civilians, from which there are several tourists and three American citizens. The suggestion presented today, is that since there are United States citizens involved, the American Red Cross international should step up and negotiate a fair treatment to both sides. Not long ago, a reporter under the name Dick Emanuelsson, was able to go to a rebel camp and interview a FARC leader. (Dick Emanuelsson, the prisoners are extremely dispirited) This reporter, was blindfolded to the site and then was permitted to take pictures of the leaders and soldiers. Using similar procedures, the American Red Cross Society could enter the jungle and provide for medical help to both sides, since in the long run both parties are victims of the tensions between all the countries involved, including France.
Once again let us state how the American Red Cross organization can be improved from a public administration point of view. The organization is in immediate need of a reengineering, where all the conflicts that have arisen in these past years, could be used as experience in reengineering the organization. In order to have a successful process of reengineering, the American Red Cross organization, needs to emancipate from the U.S. government and begin its functioning as it was intended in the beginning, independent from any sort of government. Once the government is out from the decision – making process, the organization will run on a smoother track and will become a very efficient.
There have been serious activities that have damaged the image of the organization, to mention some of them, the resignation from the founder due to bookkeeping issues, the political campaign of Bob Doyle and the influence of his wife as President of the American Red Cross organization. The lies to the American public, during the terrorist attack of September 11. And the slow response after the hurricane impact on the city of New Orleans by the Hurricane Katrina, to mention some of them. The organization, as part of the reengineering process is required to change its image by providing more accurate information to the public upon the activities on process. Present a new strategic marketing of what needs to be sold, not just products, ideas and requirements, to the public. And hire a more efficient, honest, charismatic president, who can feel identified with the purpose of the organization, who can really behave as a leader and not a puppet of the political parties. Also, he/she needs to take responsibility of the mistakes committed in the past by the organization that he represents now, and turn those mistakes into learning experiences to be passed on to every single volunteer and employee. This leader as well as the Board of Governors should interiorize themselves with all the services and process actively current within the organization in order to have a better perspective and to be able to advise on changes or not changes, without loosing track of the original mission which is “to provide relief to victims of disasters and help people are stopping, planning and responding to emergencies “(Questions frequently asked American Red Cross)
Additionally, the President and the Board of Governors should hire an assessment team, which would indicate when to intervene or not intervene, and not have the same situation as New Orleans, where help arrived later than it should have, even to mitigate the impact of the flooding. Also, this team should help them on the decision – making process on how to distribute the funding and how to inform the public opinion on those well base decisions. Also, a department of quality assurance should be created, and this department should work at all levels including the President and Board of Governors.
The American Red Cross Society is an incredible organization that should be supported and helped always, it is an organization that crosses borders and attempts to reach every single human in its path, lending a hand. It is a pity that is image has been tarnish with several attitudes and activities, but within this paper, it has been proved that it can be helped and given a little pushed to continue with its marvelous work.
Works Cited Page
- American Red Cross. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. May 7, 2008. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. May 8, 2008. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Red_Cross>
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- Ammons, D.N. (1999) A Proper mentality for benchmarking. Public Administration Review, 59 (2), 105 – 109.
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- Despite Katrina efforts, Red Cross draws criticism. USA TODAY. September 28, 2005. Associated Press. May 4, 2008. <http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2005-09-28-katrina-red-cross_x.htm>
- Emmanuelsson, D. The prisoners are extremely dispirited.Interview with Raul Reyes, FARC leader. July 5, 2005. Betancourt.info. May 9, 2008. <http://www.educweb.org/webnews/ColNews Mai05/English/Articles/Losprisionerosestansumame.html>
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