Story and photos by Dan Santos/Red Cross Public Affairs
When Diane Campbell was 16, her grandmother suffered a heart attack. Her grandmother recovered from the emergency, but it had a life-changing impact on Diane.
Campbell, desperate to seek knowledge on what to do if this were to happen again to one of her loved ones, found the opportunity to help when her high school offered an American Red Cross CPR class. Eagerly she signed up for the class which then led to becoming a CPR Instructor.
“My grandmother’s experience gave me a passion for teaching CPR and first aid,” Campbell said. “It taught me how important it was to recognize the signs of a heart attack.”
In fact, Campbell was able to use her life-saving skills the day she was interviewed for this story. While getting her hair done, she could see that one of the employees was distressed and showing signs of a stroke. Even though the woman said she was okay, Campbell called for emergency help. The woman was quickly treated and avoided more serious harm.
“The decisions we make in the past – the things we learn – they can make a difference today,” she said.
Forty years later, from Pennsylvania to California, Diane has continued a life of service to the community with the Red Cross. She has been on local and national disaster action teams, notably for Hawaii’s Hurricane Iniki in 1992; the Northridge earthquake in 1994; the La Conchita landslide in 1995; the Alaska Airlines Flight 261 disaster in 2000; Hurricane Katrina in 2005; the Camarillo Springs mudslide in 2014; and the Thomas Fire in 2017.
Along with her husband, Hal Campbell, the couple trained hundreds of volunteers who served in 2001 at Ground Zero in New York City. Hal has more than 40 years of Red Cross service himself. The couple met, naturally, on a Red Cross deployment. The Campbells live in Camarillo.
Back in Altoona, when she was in high school at age 17, Diane became an emergency medical technician. After college at Penn State, Diane was a Red Cross employee in Pennsylvania. She followed the Red Cross job to California and was employed there until 1996. She currently works as a project manager for Calyx, a global bio-pharmaceutical company, making sure their clinical trials stay on target.
Campbell now serves as co-lead of Mass Care in Ventura County.
“Over the years, the Red Cross’ mission hasn’t changed,” she said. “In Ventura County, with wildfires on the horizon, we’re in the ‘prepare’ phase. We have to get our community ready.”
With an eye towards reaching 50 years of service, Diane encourages others to volunteer with the Red Cross. “I’ve never been bored here,” she said. “Part of being human is giving back to the community.”
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