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Four Receive Highest International Nursing Award


Four U.S. nurses have been selected by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to receive the 41st annual Florence Nightingale Medal. Thirty-five nurses around the world will receive the award this year.

Nurses Brenna Aileo, United States Army Lieutenant Colonel Steven R. Drennan, Catherine Head and Marilyn Self will receive the award, the highest international honor in the nursing profession.

Every two years since 1920, ICRC has awarded the Florence Nightingale Medal to nurses and volunteer aides worldwide who have shown exceptional courage and devotion to the sick, wounded and disabled in times of war and peace.

“The American Red Cross is incredibly proud of the winners of the Florence Nightingale Award,” said National Chair of Nursing Dr. Vivian Littlefield. “Their dedication to serving people throughout the world in times of need is an inspiration.”

Those selected to receive the Medal are:

Brenna Aileo, a former Army nurse, began volunteering with the American Red Cross in response to September 11, 2001 events. Since then, she has worked at the local, regional and national levels. As the first appointed Service Area Staff Health Volunteer Consultant, Aileo distinguished herself by developing and presenting key disaster training programs. In 2004, Aileo stepped in as health consultant for the Red Cross Armed Forces Emergency Services. In this position Aileo reviews and clears staff for overseas deployment. Since taking on this role, no staff member has returned from a deployment site due to medical reasons.

As a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army, Steven Drennan has responded to conflicts, disasters and the ongoing health needs of communities worldwide. Drennan has worked continually to build collaborative relationships and educational partnerships between multi-national healthcare providers in hostile environments. He played a key role in the development of a course for ambulance teams and a burn management training program for Iraqi ambulance crews and physicians. In addition, he successfully submitted a grant proposal to create the Iraqi National Trauma Training Center, which offers clinical rotations within the Iraqi medical community.

Catherine Head has dedicated her career to improving health outcomes for vulnerable populations. Prior to serving as an American Red Cross volunteer, Head worked extensively as a nurse midwife in urban and rural settings. She then established one of the first full service birth centers in Pennsylvania. Head’s Red Cross work includes teaching classes, responding to local disasters and helping to establish a process for deploying a healthy work force during disaster relief operations. As a result of Head’s work, fewer relief workers need to be sent home in the middle of their assignments. Head is a current member of the Red Cross National Nurses Committee.

Marilyn Self has worked in paid and volunteer capacities with the American Red Cross for more than 25 years. Self has played a key role in recruiting, developing and effectively engaging nurses as health professional volunteers at the local, national and international levels. She improved the quality of health services available to victims of disasters through the development of a partnership to train public health nurses for work in shelters throughout Georgia. In addition, she coordinated the Red Cross health services for Hurricane Katrina evacuees. Self is a member of the Red Cross response team for aviation disasters and has led the health service response for multiple aviation disasters.

The American Red Cross helps people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. Last year, almost a million volunteers and 35,000 employees helped victims of almost 75,000 disasters; taught lifesaving skills to millions; and helped U.S. service members separated from their families stay connected. Almost 4 million people gave blood through the Red Cross, the largest supplier of blood and blood products in the United States. The American Red Cross is part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. An average of 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends is invested in humanitarian services and programs. The Red Cross is not a government agency; it relies on donations of time, money, and blood to do its work.


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