Monday, April 21, 2014

Red Cross circumvents my inquiry to Chicago radio station in order to -- wait for it -- avoid providing potentially lifesaving information to the public


According to the organization's website, "The (American) Red Cross has been the go-to source for more than a century for information, skills and confidence to act in an emergency, at home, in school and in the workplace."

Based on the following, sometimes they're "the don't go-to source."

This starts with my March 14 item, Punk'd by my 94-year-old father, Chicago talk radio host tells listeners to "forget the Red Cross" choking rescue guidelines, about a March 12, 2014 segment on an affiliate station of WGN Chicago.

Here's a clip I stitched together in which my father convinces talk show veteran Jonathon "Johnny B" Brandmeier and his second banana to dump on the American Red Cross because they recommend backblows as an effective treatment for choking.

One fact my father failed to mention? Every leading first aid organization in the world recommends backblows as an effective treatment for choking.

As you can hear, Brandmeier and his banana got peeled.

For a follow-up item, I wanted to know if the show intended to invite a Red Cross representative to respond.

Todd Manley (source)

Look what I received Friday morning:
Mr. Heimlich,

I did not realize you hadn't been copied on a response from the Red Cross on this topic. I will forward that to you. Their spokesperson has indicated there is no need for such an interview. Thanks for your concern.


Todd Manley
VP/Content & Programming
Tribune Radio
Then he sent me this:
From: Don Lauritzen <>
Date: April 11, 2014 at 10:56:17 AM CDT
To: Todd Manley <>;
Cc: Martha Carlos <>
Subject: RE: media inquiry-I don't think you were copied on the response
Mr. Manley:

We’re reaching out to you regarding Peter Heimlich’s recent email.

Mr. Heimlich does not represent the Red Cross and has no affiliation with our organization. We have not requested that a Red Cross representative be invited to appear as a guest.

Our American Red Cross Greater Chicago Region communications team (headed by Martha Carlos, chief communications officer) and our national office want to continue the excellent relationship we have with your organization and provide any support that we can.

Please contact us if you have any questions.

Thank you.

Don Lauritzen
Officer, Preparedness and Health and Safety Services Communications

American Red Cross
National Headquarters
431 18th Street NW
Washington, DC 20006
202.303.4775 (p)
202.303.6604 (f)
I never asked Lauritzen or anyone at the Red Cross to get involved.

And give me a stack of bibles on which to place my mitt, I swear I've never represented myself as a representative of his organization.

Unless I'm missing something, here's what this looks like.

1) Without informing me, Lauritzen -- a communications executive at Red Cross national headquarters -- interjected himself and the Red Cross into my media inquiry to WGN.

2) Without being invited by the station, Lauritzen preemptively volunteered that the Red Cross had no interest in any potential opportunity to provide potentially lifesaving first aid information (and to promote his organization) via one of Chicago's prime media outlets.

3) Todd Manley at Tribune Radio used the Red Cross's lack of interest as a fig leaf to not provide accurate, potentially lifesaving first aid information to his station's audience.

If there's any logic here, it zoomed past me.

How does Lauritzen's action benefit his employer? Isn't that Job One for a communications rep?

And how does Manley's decision benefit his station's listeners? 

Logic aside, the Red Cross and Tribune Radio clearly got what they wanted -- to avoid providing accurate, potentially lifesaving information to the public.

As for me, thanks to Manley forwarding me Lauritzen's e-mail, I got the item you're reading.

It looks like the only losers in this exchange are Tribune Radio's audience.

Oh, screw 'em. If they're interested, let 'em get the information somewhere else.